So, I made it back to Vegas for the other RC audition. The first one I flew down for in November was cancelled because the choreographers were stuck, snowed in at the Chicago airport.
That was my first time being in LAS VEGAS and boy did it make me appreciate home. I know that there’s more to Vegas than the strip – there are jagged red mountains, quite unlike the ones from my home, and clearly there is stuff that’s not related to the horror show that is the Strip.
This post will talk about the audition – I promise. But right now I’m going to bitch about Vegas.
It’s probably like judging NYC just on Times Square. I know that. But I was just not very happy about the strip. I thought that it would be at least entertaining enough with all the people and the big casinos and billboards and shops.
It was more like the state fair and “people of walmart” all crammed into dark casinos, which all look pretty similar from the inside. The smoke didn’t bother me, but the greasy stench that hung over the majority of Excalibur certainly did. There were McDonalds and Starbucks everywhere, Chilis and Applebees and other national chains that you could find anywhere. Nothing was unique. Again, this was just the strip, but I thought there must be some appeal to Vegas – why go all the way there when you could go to your own Applebees at home????
The upbeat music that played everywhere couldn’t distract me from all the garbage on the streets or the lack of breathing room that came from the huge number of people on every bit of the sidewalks. People more chill than me walked around with beers and seemed to be having a pretty okay time. There weren’t any real beautiful people hanging around, though, so that was also disappointing.
I’m also not into gambling, nor can I afford any of those shiny-bling type of stores that make up a good deal of the shopping. So clearly, I’m not the target audience.
But the audition. It didn’t get cancelled this time around (hurray) so at least I got to experience that.
There were about thirtyish dancers there, and people started showing up about 30-45 minutes before the advertised registration time. It was easy to make small talk with other dancers while we all kind of warmed up and stretched (dynamically, of course). I love dancers. I make friends at every audition because everyone is so chill and supportive.
I asked some of the ones who lived in Vegas how they liked it and how they liked the scene. The general consensus seemed to be that there was a lot of work, but it was all kind of the same. I can see how, as one of them put it, it would get old after awhile. With all the shows that are choreographed to be either crazy in terms of risk/gymnastics/contortion/danger or danced in an audience pleasing sort of way, I can forsee the problems with trying to settle down there. There are 42 million Vegas tourists a year, but most of them are probably not looking to see a Doug Varone type of piece, for instance. They’re a certain audience with certain expectations.
The upside, though, is that if you’re a dancer here, you can probably find work if you can do the jazzy, broadway type of shows. You get paid for this.
When the audition people were ready, we moved into a small studio to warm up. We got in line and filled out a form with our name and email addresses, and we got a number. When they had gone through everyone, we went into another studio (still small but not quite as small as the first) and the choreographers introduced themselves. They were very warm and created an atmosphere that wasn’t scary or intimidating.
We were taught by a man with an accent, and he gave us about a 4-5 eight count combination with 2 counts of 8 for improv at the end. The music was a pop song remix, so it was hella quick.
The choreography itself was simple. I could write it out – drag, step step kick ball change, grab, high batman with a low release into a double pirouette…etc. It was very simple. It was by far the easiest choreography I’ve ever done at an audition.
It was all very jazzy. Not contemporary, not modern, no. Jazzy. Your body was very upright the entire time, and your face needed to have some sort of showmanship on it (this is where I totally failed). They wanted to see you do the movement on the correct count, quickly enough to keep up with the music, and they wanted to see you turn and jump/leap.
There was plenty of time to pick up the choreography, and we did it in three big groups a few times before going in pairs across the floor while they videotaped us. We went through twice before they made cuts.
Personally, I had a really difficult time getting my performance quality to what they wanted. After doing modern dance for so long, and for immersing myself in it the way I have, it was difficult to go up there and be a ham. Of course you have to be able to keep the audience’s eye when you’re a modern dancer and you’re performing, but it’s just a different sort of quality than they wanted. I’m not used to smiling and winking and being a ham (which is totally not a bad thing – I’m not slamming it – it’s just different from my focus). I also was very shaky and fell out of my turns and I leaped a count too early and then a count too late 😐
We got to watch everyone dance, which was nice. Watching everyone improv made me realize that I was in a very different dance world, though. These people didn’t take improv class and use, say, the texture of the floor to influence their movement. They were smiling and doing high kicks and crazy turns. One guy did like ten toe touches in a row. People did tricks without much “dancing” in between. It made me, again, appreciate the training that I have gotten from my teachers and from my school, which definitely produces thinking dancers and artists.
However, all that training has not supported this endeavor, apparently, since I was cut. I appreciate the way they cut us – they had us all leave the studio while they deliberated, and we went back to the smaller studio to talk. Everyone put their clothes back on.
So the dress at this thing was also very different from any other audition I’ve been to. I’ve been to a lot of auditions, but they have all been for modern or contemporary endeavors where people would wear flannel and harem pants and whatnot. At this sort of thing, you want to wear way less. I wore short shorts and a very tight tank and was quite outdone by all the girls in bras (literally one girl was wearing a normal, lacy, VS type of bra with her shorts) or sports bras (some were sequined). One girl wore these briefs that I could tell were obviously dance briefs but paired with her bra top just made it look like she was wearing underwear. One girl wore a leotard and nude fishnets. More than half of the girls were in crop tops.
Anyway, back in the waiting studio, people were complimenting each other on their dancing and their improv (some of them were hella good), and again, it was easy to make friends. Pretty much everyone was in college or just graduated. It was that age group.
Anyway, so then after like 15 minutes one of the RC people came in and read off the numbers of the people they wanted to stay. This was nice because there was no “walk of shame” out of the studio while the chosen ones just watched you go. So I did appreciate that. I also appreciated that my low number meant I didn’t have to wait forever for them to get to me (the first like four or five of us didn’t make it, actually) so the suspense was short.
They cut about half of the dancers, and along with me were some people who I thought for sure were getting in and who I liked to watch, so I really didn’t feel that bad about it. There were really only two people there who looked like they needed a few more years of training, so everyone was quite competent at least.
I’m not daunted by this experience. I’m thirsty for more. I want to do more auditions and try again because I know I can get this sort of work, especially now that I know what to expect. Next time I need to chill the hell out and stop shaking so hard, do more “showy-offy” type of improv and less funky jazz/modern, and wear more makeup. I need to look up and smile more. I can’t even remember if I was smiling the entire time or if I stopped after the kick…
It’s important to know your audience, as a dancer, and what your “type” is. I certainly can fit into this mold, but for the last 4 years I have been training in a different way. The choreography is not hard, but you need to be perky and have that wow factor. So I need to work on being more of a ham.
Overall, it was a positive audition experience, and I’m hoping to go again soon.