Hey there Beauty Shaker,
Previously, in Chapter One of “My Journey”:
I moved to the concrete jungle of NYC right out of college. My days were hectic with technique classes, auditions and teaching group fitness. It was constant rejection after rejection, trying to make ends meet and hoping for that “big break”. (if you missed Chapter One, you can read it HERE)
This is Chapter Two…
I was born from Israeli parents of Arabic heritage and raised on Long Island (aka Lawngiland). Pretty much a natural born hustla’. Although my early years trying to make it as a dancer in NYC were rocky to say the least, I still had a tiny voice inside that told me, “I know I can DO THIS.”
Every Monday I religiously bought the Back Stage, a newspaper that posted all types of auditions for artists. One day I saw an open call for the traveling cast of STOMP, a super high-energy show that played music on unconventional instruments with some dance fused in. My heart raced with excitement because I knew I would be perfect for it! I mean, I’m pretty funky, I’m ethnic, I have big hair, and not only was I a dancer, but a trained musician as well! Having learned classical piano for 13 years, played the clarinet and of course being of Middle Eastern heritage, drumming was commonplace… I knew I’d be a shoe-in! I was going to go.
Three days later I arrived at the audition and realized there was a little problem (actually a big one). There were tons of people at the open call – musicians and dancers just like me. Six hundred and thirty-two of them to be exact – and I was number 501.
I’ll never forget that day. It was a sunny, fall day on the lower East Side. Everyone waiting to be called in to an empty warehouse in groups of ten to learn the choreography and ultimately audition what we’ve learned. We had so much ‘shpilkes’ (nervous energy in Yiddish) that we just had to move our bodies. Someone started to drum on their thighs, another joined in clapping, then another stomped their feet, and before we knew it, we reincarnated the opening intro of the hit TV series, Fame! It was so friggin’ cool! (those of you who don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, or born after 1980, here’s a link to the dancing street scene…)
I had to wait about 4 hours until I finally was called in. I handed the director my headshot and resume, immediately took my place in front, and we started rehearsing a short routine.
I could tell that the director was type casting everyone while eyeing everyone in the room. Luckily my hair was out – full, big, and free, had my Doc Martins on, a pair of funky ripped jeans and a cute top. I totally fit the part.
The choreographer started to teach the routine and I immediately pushed my way to the front (hey, a short gal has got to do what she needs to get noticed). I was really feelin’ it. I was like, “Heck yeah, I got this!”
Then it was time. We all did it twice through. They cut the peeps they didn’t want and thank god I wasn’t one of them. (I did back flips on the inside) For the peeps they didn’t cut (including me), we did it twice through again. Well guess what, I made the cut again! I nearly peed my pants. I was one of 3 people they asked to come back the next day! Hot diggity! I was so stoked! We were told to come back the next day at 10am. I had a smile from ear to ear all the way back to my dump on 44th street.
The next day I went back, I checked in, grabbed my audition number and the staff person said, “Congratulations on making it to the top 50”. What?! Out of 623, I made it to the top 50??!! OMG I couldn’t stand the excitement. I asked how many people they needed for the cast. She said 30. I thought that this could finally be my Big Break!
So, all 50 of us went in and were told we’re auditioning the same routine and had 10 minutes to practice. I was like YAAAAS!!! I’m gonna rock this! I walked a few feet away to get in the zone and practice on my own. Everyone was in the zone.
Then it was time. We auditioned in groups of 10. I thought to myself, “Damn! Everyone’s kicking ass. But I’m a natural born hustla’, so I GOT THIS!”
It was then my turn. I walked right to the front line. The choreographer cued, 5, 6, 7, 8… and I gave it my all! Slapping my body in syncopated precision, stomping my feet like a world-class stepper, and getting my big fro’ in the action (hey, when you’re small, you gotta’ use every part of the body to stand out). I was feeling the heat, the passion and the sweat dripping down my back.
Then it was time.
Time for the final cut.
All 50 of us stood in a line. They called out names to step forward and I was one of them. I knew I made it because I stepped forward!
Then the director said, “Back line… Congratulations! Front line, sorry, but you didn’t make the cut. Thank you for your time. Please take your things and exit left.”
Just. Like. That.
My heart sank and all the color drained from my face (and color is hard to drain when you’re already brown).
I was like “WTF?!” This was going to be the break I needed, but actually ended up being the heartbreak that I didn’t need. I thought my career was over.
I walked to the subway crying. I cried on the subway. I cried from the subway back to my dump on 44th street. And cried for a week straight after.
What happens next? Stay tuned for Chapter Three of “My Journey”.
Hey there Beauty Shaker,