4-25 / 10:13
As I leave for the 5 hour drive to Paris I feel hungry. Not the normal meaning or feeling of hungry. Hungry for change in my life. Hungry for different circumstances and outcomes in my career. Hungry to move out of potential. Please do understand that there’s a difference between hungry and thirsty individuals. So let’s just leave it at that. This is who I am, I’m 21. Queer. First Generation Sudanese American. Living in France. Urban Contemporary Creative Director and Choreographer. And, probably nothing important to say in your opinion. Here’s the thing though. I’m not here to change how you think. I’m here to change how I think.
I bet your asking now what did you audition for? How did it go? This is so exciting right! Well, I arrived to a room around seventy five full of the elite commercial and contemporary dancers in the entire country. In France choreographers and companies don’t usually do auditions it’s really about who you know. Plus how well you know them. The audition you have to get invited too, but I prefer that over a cattle call any day.
The audition process is nothing new to me. Before entering the room I must already have the mentality that your not what they’re looking for. Especially if your black. Representation for black artist in France are at a all time low. It’s almost like they search for an urban aesthetic from non urban individuals. I was one of five or six people of color in the room. I entered understanding my disadvantages. I believe we all did.
The first cut was a Hip-hop cut of course a lot of B-boy mechanics and floor work. This definitely wasn’t my thing but I’m an optimist so… This was the most difficult cut of the day for me but surprisingly I passed. About fifteen dancers left with embarrassment and disappointment featured on their faces. I remember thinking to myself I’m glad I wasn’t one of them.
The next cut was a super breathy Contemporary across the floor. It had of center moments but many falling moments as well which is my favorite. In those breathy combinations I get to choose to expand my movement. Go to the end of the experience or not. More confidently I passed again. Being chose over the next 30 males to leave the room. Many from this cut even tried to sneak back in stay and blend in with the rest. Some were successful. That’s how bad they wanted this. We all did. None of us were ready to knock on the door of defeat.
From here, the choreographer announced that we should take an hour lunch break. After hours of dancing I was happy to sit my ass down. I quickly went to my bag and grabbed my headphones. Went to the nearest couch and called my boyfriend. Who was having lunch with a friend at the time. He gave me his usual words of encouragement, not realizing he no longer understands the hunger games of what dance professionals call auditions. After our conversation I listened to music and ate my quino. The room was so tense most people left for a smoke. I joined in on the tension instead of braking its curse. After lunch it was finally my time.
The choreographer entered the room while I was stretching again. He began going through his repertoire not even announcing to begin. We trickled to the center of him like sheep. We didn’t want to miss any information at this point. It was very few that was left, Im almost sure some more people left during the lunch break. Yes I can assure you that it was that stressing. We learned the repertoire and now were selected in ABC order in groups of five. This was the moment to show up. When it was my turn of course he couldn’t pronounce my name correctly. Yes I corrected him. In these specific instances a unique name could be a gift and a curse. I go and I do well.
We repeat this cycle 3 times in a row. I do well. Finally we are called to sit in the middle of the room. Maybe we were tomorrow’s selection or maybe this was another cut. It was. He called out around 20 names including mine and said, Thank you for coming, so I knew it was my time. Before standing to leave he stopped me and asked me where I was from. I told him the United States. He told me about his sister that lives there. Then he told me that I was a great trained dancer but for this creation I had to much control over my body. Also that it’s very time consuming to break down the body of a classic dancer to meet contemporary artistry. I understood. I’ve heard this many times before. I thanked him for his unneeded explanation for why he cut me. He didn’t have to do it.
So I began on my journey to my walk of shame. That didn’t quite feel like shame. It actually felt rewarding. To even be considered in a room with some of the best male dancers in France. To have made it past so many cuts. To have gained more knowledge. Experience. Information. To have had a human interaction with the choreographer. It all was a complete honor. And after another rejected experience I found hope that I was one step closer to my dream. We take these experiences in our lives and understand their value in the very end when it matters. It is important that dancers hear those no’s in their lives. So when that yes comes along. You are humble. Filled with grace. And integrity…