Audition date: October 27, 2012
Link to casting notice: Show Boat Dance Audition
I’ve danced in 5 productions at Washington National Opera and loved every single experience. We always want the job, but truthfully, I only remember 2 other auditions for WNO where I wanted the job as badly as I wanted Show Boat: The Pearl Fishers (my first opera with WNO) and Iphigénie en Tauride (Starring Placido Domingo). There were rumblings a year and a half ago that ShowBoat would come to WNO after opening at the Lyric Opera of Chicago last spring and then going to Houston Grand Opera this winter. I’ve waited anxiously for the audition since receiving the company’s 2012-2013 season announcement on March 6th!
With all of this build up, I felt extremely calm throughout the process! I woke up early and used hot rollers to curl my hair then headed to ballet class at my favorite D.C. locale: Maryland Youth Ballet. After barre and a few combinations in center, I finished getting ready and caught a ride with a friend to the rehearsal space, which is located in Takoma Park (my sweet home away from home!).
Auditioning at WNO is usually fairly comfortable because I know the space and half the people in the room. For this audition, I got dolled up quite a bit more than usual because of the musical theater aspect of Show Boat (officially an operetta), wearing my polka dot halter leo, bare legs, a little black skirt, and a matching polka dot headband (with hair down and curly thanks to lessons learned during Oklahoma!). Sign in started at 11:30 with the audition beginning at 12:30.
At about 12:45, they called the union dancers into the audition room where we were met by:
- Michele Lynch, Choreographer
- Eric Sean Fogel, Associate Choreographer
- David Foti, Director of Production WNO
- Stephanie Wallace, Rehearsal Coordinator WNO
- Eleni Kallas, Mid-Atlantic Area Representative WNO
- One chorister from WNO whose name I don’t remember but who is super sweet!
I heard from friends who did the show in Chicago that Michele is an absolute sweetheart. This is too true! Plus, she’s really fun. I know Eric (Associate Choreographer) from Zvi Gotheiner’s ballet class in New York. Before the audition we were chatting it up, exchanging class info. I told him how glad I was that he was there because I didn’t see a lot of tall Caucasian men (as in…I needed him to partner me). Um, I didn’t realize that he was the Associate Choreographer! Woops!
Show Boat has separate tracks for the African American and the Caucasian dance cast. We’re talking 1927 Mississippi River here! The first piece of choreography we learned was for the Caucasian cast and involved some really beautiful, fun movement that included high leg extensions, a few jumps, and coordinated por de bras that made the sequence flow nicely. I felt great! High legs….absolutely!
The second piece of choreography was more for the African American dance cast so they did it in a hoofing style while the Caucausians danced it more upright, show tap style. I also enjoyed this movement and had fun learning the rhythms. Even though I haven’t taken tap in 6 months, those lessons sure paid off!
They did a cut and got us down to about 12 Caucausian women and 3 Cacuasian men. The show needs 3 Caucasian women and men, each. We got send back to the holding room while they saw the non-AGMA/Equity dancers.
For the call backs, they split us up and taught different choreography. The Caucasians learned a little partnering. There were 4 tall girls and not a single tall guy so Eric stepped in like a trouper! Thank goodness!
My first pass at the partnering didn’t go well. Eric took full blame and even expressed concern that I hurt myself. What a kind and professional partner! We figured it out on the second pass. Then Michele asked for special tricks. A few of us tried a few cartwheels in place with moderate success. But I’m sure that I could learn this trick or aerials if needed since the show doesn’t even open for another 6 months!
I waited for a week after the audition to hear back. I felt absolutely amazing about my audition, which is a rarity to think let along admit! I danced great, looked great, and loved the vibe from the Michele and Eric. What more could you ask for? Well, I was terribly worried that I might not get hired just because there wasn’t a tall Caucasian guy that auditioned and could partner me. Sometimes that’s all it takes to lose a job to no fault of your own!
But not this time! I got called a week later and offered a contract for Show Boat. I am so so so EXCITED! Now I’ll just have to patiently wait until the show starts rehearsing in the spring.
- Be nice to everyone you encounter in New York and everywhere else you go. You never know if they will reappear in another role at some point. Fortunately, I think I’m almost always nice to everyone in a pretty genuine way!
I love the look of this video!