And so do I...
By Jen Littlefield (writer, choreographer, your best friend if you have two left feet)
I love college audition season. Probably because I'm on the other side of it all, watching and rooting, and in the end, evaluating. At Pace, we see about 80-100 kids a day, and after this week, we will have had 7 days with the final two at the end of the month. Pace has even come so far that applicants must submit video auditions to gain a spot at the in-person auditions. It's hard to believe the program started with a class of 8 students.
For the past few years I've run the dance call, and for most kids (or people in general), the dance call is a version of hell they avoid at all costs. People are terrified to dance. And then they meet me. I'm like the Julie Andrews of of auditions, I can make anything fun. (Yes, even ballet combinations for non-dancers). Don't get me wrong, my audition choreography is hard - and this year fast - but I create a room where you are free to do your best no matter how "good" that is.
And I'll let you in on a little secret. The ones I remember most are not the best dancers. The best ones blend together into a conglomeration of flexible limbs, quick spots, and knowing grins. No, the ones I tell stories about, catch my eye with their personality and love for this fickle art we practice. Every year I tell a story of one student who was (and still is) not a dancer, and how he filled my audition room with so much joy while performing that I couldn't take my eyes off of him. He picked up maybe 40% of the actual dance steps, but he never stopped, he never got mad because he wasn't as good as some of the other dancers, and he acted the sh*t out of the movement. He became my number one pick that season. Oh and he's a current student btw.
I am constantly on the lookout for more of those souls. the ones that are filled with love and excitement, and courage for this business. I've found a few in the days we've already had (like the guy who gave me Elvis as he improved before the start of the combo, or the one who slid on the floor to whisper in the ear of one of my assistants at the end of the combo, now that is brave) and hope for more this week. They, in all their focused drive and hope, remind me of what's really important: to love something in this life so completely that nothing else matters. It doesn't have to be the same thing your whole life, but it must exist. And if you lose it for a while, do whatever you can to find a new love. It will keep you young and excited and courageous and maybe even happy.
JEN LITTLEFIELD is a freelance choreographer and writer with a few steady teaching gigs at Pace University and Concordia Conservatory. She is the associate artistic director of The Hive Theatre Company and loves cheese and wine. If you see her at a bar, tell her to put her book or writing away and talk to someone, they probably like cheese and wine just as much and would love to talk to her about it.www.jenlittlefield.com
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