Sunday, December 6, 2009

Professional Auditioner.

Last night I was having dinner with friends and was talking about how our lives as performers directly affect our “non-dance” lives. We spoke about the amount of discipline that is instilled within us from a very young age and the level of respect we are taught to give to those people who constantly put us down. We stand in ballet classes for hours a week and are taught to say “thank you” when we are given a correction.

Lesson for young Keltie: when someone tells you what is wrong with you, say thank you. Don’t talk back, don’t fight it, just fix it, or do your best to try.

The same thing happens even in my professional life, each day when I arrive at the arena to get ready for the show I have not one, but 3 dance captains with pages of “notes” for me. It is their job to sit in the audience and pick me apart. From fingers, to eyeballs, to legs to kicks each move I make on stage, every single time I get on stage is judged.

Lesson for Keltie: Remember that time you were on stage and you were having so much fun and you felt amazing? Well, Your hand was one inch to high and your head was 0.00004 seconds to early in the kickline. You are never 100% right.

I was talking about what it is like to audition. An audition really consists of me walking into a room, presenting myself (hopefully the best version I have), presenting a headshot, a resume of everything I have ever done- TV! Training! Special Skills! I can rollarskate and do kartwheels! and I have literally 25 seconds to win an entire table of directors, producers and choreographers over. I have learned how to walk into a room, lay out every single thing I have to offer someone within 25 seconds, and how to win them over with only that.

In the dance world, this is an amazing skill to have. So often dancers make the mistake of thinking that they have time to get these important people to “warm up” to them. As a choreographer I know who I am going to book the second they walk in the door. The advice that I always give dancers when I teach master classes is to just “leave it all out there on the floor”. Take the few moments you get to shine in an audition and spill yourself so that when you walk off, there is nothing left to give. Our industry is so competitive, you can never hold back.

Now, having worked most of my life to cultivate these skills, it makes sense that this seems to be the exact same way I walk into every other area of my life. I walk into a date (aka audition) and I lay all my cards out on the table. I am an open book. I can give you A GREAT 2 minute summary of me. I swear it amazes even me that I don’t enter into these things with a head shot and a resume. Can you imagine?

Special Skills: making pancakes, crafting awesome presents, being incredibly busy, talking about myself, kissing, stealing your over sized shirts.

I am working really hard on learning to separate my dance life skills and my normal life skills. Since, I really have only been doing dance life thus far, it is seemingly difficult. This is something I see so much of in the entertainment industry, no one really knows how to shut-off. We are all, just always on. We have been trained to be salespeople, selling ourselves and our talents at all times. This habit leads to very successful careers and being very confused thoughts about all the other stuff.

Someone asked me if I have ever been chased. This sentence belongs on Mars. (ROCKETTES IN SPACE- the space spectacular- right shushu?) I have bitten my nails, and pounded my way through and hustled my way through everything, ever. It is what I do. Who I am. But, I am learning about finding the things that work, and finding the patterns that do not. The 2 minute audition works great for dancing. But perhaps, if you are looking for someone to spend a lifetime with, it might be smarter to use that lifetime to show them all your special skills.

Maybe, to someone out there, being with me is a dream, and so while I am chasing, tooth and nail, my own dreams, they might be chasing me. Or if I turn around, and the only person chasing me is the crazy homeless dude on the subway who wants my sandwich, I am fine with that too. As long as he doesn't take my 'wich.