Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I Dream of Complexions

It was a gorgeous day; a preview of the summer months to come. The sun was beating down through the cracks between the skyscrapers, and the heat could be felt from all around. I was in New York City, briskly walking to DANY studios for the Complexions Contemporary Ballet audition. I had just grabbed a smoothie and granola bar from the wonderfully healthy Green Symphony, and as I was power-walking down the street, it felt like I hadn't even skipped a beat since the fall when I was living and dancing in NYC. Navigating the city is like riding a bike; once you've done it you never forget, and I felt at home in this crazy environment.

To be honest, regarding the audition, I was terrified. This is Complexions Contemporary Ballet, one of the most influential and major ballet companies in the city and the country. I had only ever been to one other audition in the city, so I'm still gaining experience. I didn't know what to expect going in, and it's very intimidating seeing over a hundred other extremely talented ballet dancers waiting for the same opportunity that you are. But, that's all a part of the business. I think everyone gets a little nervous and compares themselves to the other dancers no matter how much experience they have, but the best thing to do at an audition is focus on yourself.

We went in groups of 30 and I was in the second group, so I had somewhere between half an hour and an hour to prepare myself. Usually when I have a lot of time to wait, I feel like I have to be warming up constantly and that's when I start comparing myself to the other people in the room. After I warmed up and stretched everything that I needed to, I relaxed and closed my eyes for a couple minutes. This calmed me and got me centered and focused on the present moment. I thought positive thoughts and when I opened my eyes, I felt strong, confident, and ready to go. A few moments of silence and contemplation does wonders before an audition, performance, or any event.

After we were taken into the studio and introduced to the artistic directors and ballet master, the first thing they said to us was, "I know it's an audition, but everyone relax. Just let it go!" I thought an audition for a company of this caliber would be a lot more intense, serious, and stressful, but everyone made us feel comfortable and at ease. We did two center combinations and one across the floor, and they were actually pretty simple. The goal was to judge our basic ballet/pointe technique and take it from there. It felt amazing to be dancing with all of these talented dancers, and I felt inspired and learned a lot from watching them. Not only were we auditioning in the greatest city in the world, but we were dancing for Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson (the artist directors). They are both amazing dancers, choreographers, and artists, and I felt honored to even be in the same room with them.

As we were waiting for our turn to go across the floor, we were standing in front of an entire wall of windows overlooking 8th avenue. As we danced, you could hear cars, people, and city sounds in the background. These things constantly reminded me where I was and what I was doing, and I felt utterly grateful for all of it. It also felt good to be truly dancing again when lately, I've been doing a lot of teaching and haven't had the chance to take class. Surprisingly, I didn't feel the least bit rusty! After I went across the floor and held a balance at the end, one of the other dancers watching said, "Girl, you betta werk!" which was quite a confidence boost. Everyone seemed supportive and nice, despite the fact that we were competing against each other.

After about 20 minutes, they called maybe 5 or 6 numbers, then dismissed the rest of us. The people that got called were to stay for repertory later in the afternoon. The majority of us didn't get to stay, but I am still so glad that I had this opportunity. The nervousness and fear was worth it because I had a great time and I learn a little bit more every time I put myself in this type of situation. Gaining experience is key, and the more you audition, the more practice you get. Practice makes you a more confident, strong, and prepared dancer. I would like to possibly participate in the Complexions summer intensive this summer since being a part of Complexions is one of my dream jobs as a dancer.

If you aren't familiar with Complexions, here is a montage of some of their more recent work:

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