A blank slate

A few months ago, after watching a group of my peers doing a light run of one of the pieces that will be performed for the very last time this evening, I jotted down these observations:

There’s something special about watching a group of dancers rehearse. But let me be more specific. There’s something about watching a group of dancers who love and support each other, who have worked closely together for a number of years. There’s something about taking a community with these sorts of relationships and putting them in an informal rehearsal setting, one where there’s nothing to prove, no one at the front of the room to impress, just the space and sound and moves and, most significantly, each other. Then there are sudden glimmers of smiles between friends, startled laughter over near misses, approving whistles when someone grabs a motion out of the void and makes it into something. There are quick bursts of conversation and inside jokes woven within the sequence of the choreography. And sometimes in the midst of the casual camaraderie the air is sucked right out of the room when the group spontaneously arrives together to create a moment out of nothing, coalescing and collapsing in the breath between the crash of one wave against the next.

My awe for the superhumans I work with every day has only grown since then, because they are all so beautifully flawed and human and brilliant. Now, four months later, we are a few hours away from our last performance together as a class. Some of my classmates have already booked their first jobs. Others are in the midst of final round callbacks. Others still have yet to make it past the first cut at any audition. Some of us have been auditioning since December; some of us are only just revving up. Some of us are looking into further education, or to forging our own paths. And that’s before I start thinking about my friends outside of the Department of Dance. The future, right now, is a wonderfully, terrifyingly blank slate.

Here is what I know: we are, all of us, going to be okay.

I have been thinking a lot about auditions this semester. Not just because I’m in the midst of trying to get a job myself, but also because I have been helping in the office at Tisch Dance with auditions for the incoming class. I can remember my own audition experience vividly for a lot of reasons, but the clearest is still the way I felt myself settle, somehow, once we started class. Was I nervous? Sure. But something about the faculty, the space,  made something in me calm. It felt right to be there. So I knew, if I were to be fortunate enough to be offered a place there, I would say yes.

Auditions are a frustrating process, and as anyone on the other side of the table will tell you, you cannot possibly get to know a candidate at the level you would like to in that kind of format. A lot of it is unfortunately based in quick decisions that have nothing to do with you or your value as a dancer or artist or person. There’s been a lot written on how to approach auditions, and I won’t bother reiterating all of it here–just the one thing.

The best piece of audition advice I’ve ever been given is this: you might be auditioning for them, but they are also auditioning for you. Artists, in my experience, tend to have pretty excellent instincts when we give them a chance. The same is true of most people, really. You will know when something is right. And remember that never, ever, are you out of options. There are so many choices for you to make. You just have to explore until you find the one that feels right.

Sitting in the Jack Crystal Theatre, getting ready for my final performance as a member of the Second Avenue Dance Company, I don’t really know what is going to happen next. But I look around at this space that has seen me change and fly and fail and live and I know that, regardless, this was my right choice.

I don’t know what will happen next. But I know that I’m going to be okay. And so are you.


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