Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Chorus Line

Normally I tend to stay away from talking about auditions on my blog and social media, but I decided to make an exception for this one. 

A little bit of good luck from my roommate!!!

On October 1st, I got in line for the open call for A Chorus Line, West End. I was 1 of 700 people that auditioned, number 172 to be exact. I woke up at 5:45 in the morning, after not getting much sleep due to nerves and packing. I had everything all laid out and ready to go. I ate breakfast and put on my full stage make-up, minus the lips. No one should ever wear that much make-up so early in the morning. I looked out my window and of course it was raining! I layered up: hat, scarf, gloves, and umbrella and head out the door. For those of you that know me well, you will know that I'm not a morning person. I repeat I am NOT a morning person. 

The line behind me. Although it was tough getting up early, I am so thankful that I did. 

I ended up arriving at the Palladium Theatre at about 7:30am, to find that the queue wasn't too bad. I grabbed a tea and got in line. It wasn't long before I met my first audition pal, Nicola. We started playing the game of guessing who was joining the queue to audition. I'm telling you now, this game proved to be very entertaining, partly because you can spot a dancer from a mile away. We later met another new friend, Mel. It was so nice to meet such lovely people, especially in such a stressful situation. It was great to have new pals to joke with. 

Excited, tired and very nervous! That's Mel popping out from behind me. Laughs! 

The queue started moving around 9:15am. We didn't get our audition numbers till about 11am, turns out that the small looking line in front of us was actually 170 people. Hurry up and wait was the name of the game. I kept saying that it was like going to the airport, but we had to wait outside in the rain. The 3 of us were so excited that we got in, it didn't matter much. We got into the 1st holding room where there were already dancers trying to warmup from outside. I quickly changed, put on my red lipstick, and started stretching. It was just like the documentary Every Little Step. In round 1 they wanted to see a double ballet pirouette on each side. I had to keep reminding myself "You've pirouetting for about 15 years, you can do this". Although I was forcing myself to think positive, it's hard not to get nervous. We waited for around an hour, then finally it was our turn to turn. 

"Can we get numbers 150 - 200 on stand-by, please." That's us, we quickly grabbed our things and headed into the theatre. That was my first time ever in the Palladium, one of the biggest theatres in the West End and I headed right up the stars, onto the stage.  I tucked my things away and got into the right line. Baayork Lee (the original 'Connie' and choreographer of the revival productions) herself explained what they wanted to see from us. "Please say your name. Tendu prepare, clean double on the right. Land in a lunge. Tendu left, prepare, pirouette on the left." We were off to the races and it was terrifying. I tried to keep smiling, but it was difficult as I saw people battling the Marley floor and character shoes around me. It was not an easy feat. I could feel my breath get shorter and shorter as it came closer to my turn. Finally, it was go time. I decided to introduce myself. "Hi, I'm Chelsea Preston", I was the first, and I believe only 'American' accent in my group. I tendued, prepared double to the right - nailed it! Hooray! Now for the left...tendu, prepare, double pirouette and I landed it. Not as smoothly as the right, but I landed it. I was shaking from the nerves. That was definitely one of the most nerve-racking things I've had to do in my career/life. Do a double in from of about 70 people in dead silence, I'd be alright if I never had to do that again. I waited for everyone else to finish turning and then they had a few minutes to discuss and organize themselves about who was moving on. It was exactly like the film. "If we don't call your number, thank you for your time". All I was thinking was "I just want to dance! Please, just let me dance!"

They called my number! I got to move onto round 2, the opening jazz combination! I grabbed my stuff, said goodbye to my new friends and heading into the 2nd holding room. What a great feeling. I was very proud of myself. I waited for another hour and a half before for the 2nd round. All of the people that had made it through round 1 were adding up in the holding room. When it was time, we all grabbed our things and heading down to the stage once again. Everyone dropped off their belongings at the side and we waited as they put us in our new lines. I happened to be in the very 1st line. It was pretty crazy looking back up stage at about a 100 very talented dancers, knowing that there's only room for a handful. It was time for the combo. Baayork Lee, along with her lovely assistants started teaching us the iconic opening jazz combination, starting with... you guessed it, "ah, 5,6,7,8". We got right down to business, learning the first 6 counts of choreography and then we rotated lines. We kept repeating this action until we had had learnt the entire combo. My friends, let me tell simply as that combo may appear to be, it is not the easiest thing in the world, especially in heels. I loved how specific Baayork was with the steps. I felt really lucky/honoured that she gave me specially a few corrections. That may not sound like a good thing to a non-dancer, but getting direction like that usually means that they care! After we had learnt the whole thing we kept doing the combo in rotation for what felt like a good 8-10 minutes, realistically it was probably closer to 5, but who knows!

Then Baayork announced "That's it! You've just done A Chorus Line! Now onto the audition. Now I'm watching!"

Talk about internal freakout. They then told us that we would be performing the combination 2 by 2, no big deal. This is when I wished I had a different number. I definitely would have liked to have a few more people in front of me to get settled, but alas! These are the things that we have no control over. I was paired with another girl, and before you knew it, it was all over. There were was 1 step I know I could have done better, but other than that I managed to keep myself together. Waiting for everyone to finish audition, I could feel myself starting to crash and the lactic acid in my muscles beginning to settle. We were told to talk amongst ourselves while they figured out who they wanted to bring back tomorrow for the ballet part of the audition. This was another tough part of the auditions, the "God, I really blew it, I really blew it" part of the audition. Unfortunately, I didn't hear my number get called.

 I'm not gonna lie, I was heart broken, but at the same time, proud of myself for making it as far as I did. My new flatmate was telling me that quite of a few of her friends that have done many West End shows, didn't make it through to the ballet audition. It was a long and hard day, but I can check West End cattle call off my list of things to do while in London!

Like I said, normally I don't talk about specific auditions, but I feel like my A Chorus Line audition was more of an experience. Overall it was a very positive day. I really felt that all of the creative team was rooting for us. They wanted you to do well and succeed. It was a pretty great feeling. Also, a big congrats to all the dancers who made it through! I can't wait to see the show!

Wow, that was a long one...thanks for reading!


1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an amazing experience ! Very Proud of you ! xx