I had a very interesting experience at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina Mary Poppins call the other day. Prior to the dance call to which I had been invited (don’t ask me how), I had informed the team that I was, in fact, not a tapper. I wasn’t even a dancer! A “solid mover” is the term I believe I used. Regardless, after a harried yet somehow successful audition, they wanted to see what I had in the rug-cutting department.
As the other actors sauntered in, it quickly dawned on me that I was way out of my league. All around me were tall, strapping Broadway bucks who had all donned their best leotards for the occasion. The stretching began. Much like The Hunger Games, this is the time when everyone sizes each other up. Even Cassius and Brutus were all smiles and hugs as they sharpened their blades. Then, from the monitor, comes my favorite quote of the day:
Now it’s bludgeoning me about the head and shoulders that I’m out of my league. Do I look like I own a leotard? And, again, I am not a tapper. Alas, as we were lead from the holding room I couldn’t help but think, “Yea, this is happening…”
Long story short, I got cut. Hell, I'd have cut me! But, it’s what happened in between that peaked my interest. Two thirds of the people at this call already knew the combination and after he reviewed it with everyone, the choreographer very generously sent the newbs back to holding to review with his assistant. Kudos to Nic Thompson for his consideration. No matter how many times we did it as the whole and/or smaller groups, I wasn’t going to get this dance. I don’t have the technique, or even the shoes. But, after we had reviewed it several times, I went up to her and said,
She could not have been more kind and encouraging about it. She reassured me and proceeded to break down the combination step by step, reviewing each part. She simplified some of the more technical steps and helped in such a way that, even though we both knew I wouldn’t make it past this call, I could go in knowing I gave it a shot. And having gotten a free tap lesson out of it, I felt strangely accomplished.
The real drag were the other dancers. To be fair, a few were kind and even encouraging to this tenacious, albeit hopeless schlub. I was even offered a low five by one dude after my group went. For the most part, however, my efforts were met with downward glances and contempt as if to say, how dare I present my two left feet at their Equity country club tap call?! That negative energy is so palpable and creates the most toxic of atmospheres.
This is by no means a pity party. I’ve got pretty thick skin and absolutely no disillusions about my dancing skills (or lack there of). I merely wish to highlight the dichotomy experienced on this particular morning. On one end, the choreographer’s assistant (and it kills me that I’ve forgotten her name as she deserves proper credit) who not only reviewed, but also broke down a tap combo for a struggling actor to give him a fighting chance. On the other end we have…well, to quote Louis C. K., a bag-o-dicks. Just a bunch of assholes who’s cancerous holier than thou attitude continues to infect this business and makes auditioning a chore rather than a challenge worth celebrating.