Living the starving artist dream without the starving part (but for real, I only still go to Starbucks because the holidays left me flush with gift cards), rehearsing, auditioning, going to hole-in-the-wall theaters, working on my not-next-great-American novel in coffee shops.
I’ve been going to every audition I can, and I’ve had a decent amount of success there. A surprising amount, in the same way that I’m surprised and baffled every time I manage to do the petite allegro in PNB’s class without falling over. I’ve gotten better at reminding myself that I’m not a beginner anymore, but I still feel weird when I see myself in the mirror, my body moving like it’s pulled by imaginary strings, because I didn’t have that sort of control even two years ago.
Right now I’m working with three different choreographers for two different shows. They’re both modern, both the sort of modern I’m familiar with. Two of them are a bit more classical, and the third is decidedly contemporary, but I’m within my skill range even though I’m not the best one in any of the casts. Dancing with these other new people – some of whom are stunning in a why-aren’t-you-performing-at-the-Joyce sort of way – has given me new fire to continue my own progression.
It’s challenging to make it all work with life going on. Continuing to work enough to make money while scheduling rehearsals means that I’m in rehearsal for six days out of the week, and I’m often starting at 9:00am and finishing after 9:00pm. There’s less time for technique (still going 3x a week) and yoga (1x a week) and running (2x a week), so I’m worried about getting too soft and weak, but that’s just part of the balancing act. This entire thing is a marathon, not a sprint, and taking it week by week and month by month helps with a crazy schedule. This isn’t something you can just do on a whim, it’s a crazy lifestyle choice.
This situation can lend itself to complacency. With the stress of just trying to get from rehearsal to work and back to rehearsal (seriously, fuck Fridays and Mondays) means that you’re tired, and sometimes you’re just trying to get through it so you can get to the next thing so that you can get to bed. Again, it’s sometimes a day by day strategy, but being surrounded by people who are better than you and just as gaga over dance as you helps push your boundaries if you’re open to it.
I wish more than ever that I could get into more modern classes, but my rehearsal schedule lends itself to the ballet classes. On one hand, I’ve never been so on my center, and my balances are Grade A sexy. On the other hand, I feel myself slipping on things like personal innovation in my improvisation, my deep deep second position plie, and pelvis powered floor work.
These freelance projects create casts that are composed of dancers picked for 1) being good dancers and 2) their schedule availability. You won’t always be paired with the best partner; you might be paired with the only other person available Wednesday nights. It’s a fact that you just have to deal with. Struggling builds character as much as planks build your core. You need a flexible and non-fussy personality to make it like this.
There are more and more auditions coming up, some of which I plan on attending. My ultimate goal is still to find at least a part time gig that would pay enough that I can cut down on my office administration hours (commercial dance, here I come), but I’m dancing often and I’m not in a bad spot.
I’ve found more than ever the embrace of the unknown – the unknown of when you’ll get the next gig, of when your rehearsals and shows will be, if you’ll be physically capable of what you’re asked to do, if your quads will make it through the week. They probably will, and so will you.