This past Sunday, I made the trek down to Tucson, AZ with my good friend Ashley to Audition for the Alonzo King Line Ballet Summer Intensive! I’ve wanted to audition for a bit over a year, but this time around I actually had time and felt a bit prepared to do so. Little did I know that there was almost no preparing for this thing called Contemporary-Ballet
The class started off with me having a higher bit of confidence because I felt like my barre work was solid, and my musicality was on. The instructor of the class gave us the task of finding a more creative way to showing musicality at the barre, and through the rest of class really, and not become robots with our connection to the music. She said, “the pianist is giving you so much texture and quality to play with and emphasize so fill the space with that in mind but through your body, and don’t forget to still dance”.
We tried this task out on the tendu phrase and by the end I felt like I was getting the hang of it…. Nope. The instructor told us we were not achieving what she was asking of us and then spoke directly to by saying, “I need YOU to dance! Because, I know once I tell you to improvise across the floor you’ll be a completely different dancer. So show me that dancer at the barre.”
GAH! I loved and hated her for the publicly isolated feedback/encouragement, but it definitely inspired me to take more risks at the barre. I tried feeling the music, losing myself in the phrases, adding some more torso action, and letting my skin feel the texture of the space around me. Even though it felt awkward.
Through the rest of center and class I struggled where I struggled and focused on applying feedback whenever she gave it, even if I flopped in everything else in the phrase. But it wasn’t until improvisation across the floor that I felt fully confident.
She asked that we let go of the ballet, trick, extensions, and control because she had seen enough of it at that time and to show us something different. I immediately ripped off my ballet shoes, tossed them into my bag and let my bare feet kiss the cold marley below.
I was sixth to go across the floor, and besides my friend Ashley, who was second, no one took her suggestions to heart really. And you could tell when she lost interest in someone’s performance by whether or not she waited for the dancer to finish their improvisation or not before queing in the next dancer. She waited for my friend Ashley.
When I was called in, I turned on all of my sense and crumpled into the floor. I live for the ground. When I’m down so low I feel like I could safely fly, and flip, contort with ease and finesse. So, I brought out everything I could muster at that moment. I tried playing with timing, purposefully focusing with my eyes, different textures of movements, using angles and shapes in the most unorthodox way all before ending flipping off if the ground with a one armed back cartwheel from a sitting position. Everyone before me that had finished had wide-eyes.
After class, I thanked the woman and asked for her name (forgot it like a dunce). But, when I asked for clarification on some of her feedback she to explained and added that she believed I have great technique and to keep working on what I’m doing… “great technique” rang in my ears. I have never heard that honestly spoke from someone’s mouth at that level of professionalism and I am still in awe by it.
Hard work pays off! I’m crossing my fingers that I get that acceptance letter, because I know this will be a great fit for me. Why must I wait 2 weeks!? UGH!