by Alexis Branagan
A few weekends ago, I went to a hot yoga class. I felt amazing afterwards, so, naturally, I decided I would become a total yogi and right then and there purchase an unlimited 30-day pass.
Well, I'm not a yogi, and I'm definitely not a smart impulse buyer. Turns out I had plans, a performance, or work literally every class time throughout the 30 day period except for a class this past Sunday. So, I got up early that morning to take my second hot yoga class and to rekindle my inner yogi (who has done yoga about ten times in her life, feels uncomfortable chanting "Ohm", doesn't own a mat, and probably doesn't even own enough Lululemon to fit in).
The class was SO sweaty. Not the gross, clammy gym socks kind of sweaty, but the kind of sweaty that opens you right up. Your muscles are ready to do anything, and your mind seems to free up, as well. I was in the zone.
As I flowed through the poses, I realized this was the same "zone" I'm in when I dance my best. It's a place of total self awareness, unfettered by distracting thoughts. And, I'm usually sweating, and it feels good.
It's the heart of the ballet audition season - both for summer intensive programs and companies. When I think back on my best audition experiences, I don't specifically remember sweating in them, but I do remember that they had a sense of flow for me. I wasn't thinking about the director sitting in the front as a merciless critic, but rather as a person I have the chance to show off for. During my best auditions, I let myself get into the movement and beyond the hectic, stressful feeling some auditions can have. As you walk in a studio crowded studio weekend after weekend, believe in yourself and your dancing enough to get in the zone. Warm up enough so you're at your physical best. Sweat, and "don't sweat it."
"Sweating it" is like the clammy gym socks. It stinks! It's uncomfortable and cold. It's not helpful; it's just unpleasant. You're "sweating it" when you're letting your thoughts and insecurities get in the way of your confidence and endorphins. You're "sweating it" when you're thinking, "I need to do at least a triple pirouette if they're going to watch me over the perfect turner I'm standing next to." Get into YOUR flow. Like in yoga, focus on your breath and your practice. You have something to offer, and somewhere somebody is going to like it. You're not going to succeed or grow if you waste time comparing yourself to others in a self-deprecating way.
When you're "sweating it", you can't dance with the skill, risk, and artistry you want to show off during an audition. Of course auditions come with a little extra anxiousness, but try to channel your nerves into excitement in your movement, rather than letting them contribute to creative paralysis. Warm up thoroughly, with full attention on what your body needs. Stand tall, dance hard, sweat it out. No matter the result, at least you'll know you gave it your all.
Merde! and namaste.
As you plan out your Summer Intensive audition schedule, check out my article in the current edition of Pointe Magazine: "Summer Study Sleuth"