Originally Written March 2015. And yes, this all actually happened.
When I’m nervous about something, I have a few tricks that I do to calm myself down–basically, I just sit in my car and talk to myself in my dashboard mirror like a militantly upbeat life coach. I might even be able to out self-talk Oprah. (Maybe that can be a future reality show for OWN–”Motivational Coach Melee”…take like 5 motivational coaches, lock them up somewhere, and whichever is the first to be negative & show self-doubt is off the island.)
But the thing I’ve been learning about nerve-wracking situations is that most of the time, they’re completely self-inflicted. If you did something illegal and you’re sitting in an interrogation chair at the police station, you’re probably nervous as hell–why? Because you did something bad. If you’re about to go on a promising first date with an actually fun accountant (apparently those exist) and you’re 30 minutes early and wandering around the nearby Target like a dazed person who just came off an acid trip, it’s YOUR own fault. You scheduled the date! You murdered the person! You didn’t have to do anything.
And that’s exactly where I found myself this morning: in another completely self-inflicted nervous situation and even worse–coated in other people’s dance sweat. Not my own dance sweat. Other people’s.
I was at an audition–my first in over ten years–and by the first six minutes there, I immediately knew that I was not competing anymore. I was in it for fun. Everyone there had dance shoes and impressive resumes and actually laminated headshots…I was wearing old tennis shoes, carrying a headshot printed on cardstock (I couldn’t find glossy paper and was, frankly, too lazy to buy any), and sporting a resume whose crowning glory was playing “Mary Sue Betty Bob” in the gloriously underrated children’s musical “Dear Edwina.” I’m clearly no “Broadway Baby”–maybe a cousin once or twice removed.
My nerves were soon soothed by the utter ridiculousness I felt learning choreography for the musical numbers we had to learn for the judges. For the first song–”Money Money” from “Cabaret”–the choreographer was constantly calling out instructions with phrases I wasn’t familiar with, things like “Show your Fosse arms” and “Look seductive.”
My audition group had eleven others, all older and more experienced than me, but, like Fanny Bryce, I soon found my place as the “wise-cracking funny girl.” These quips came in handy when we got to the second number we had to learn: “New York, New York,” which came complete with jazz hands, jazz squares, and jazz regrets on my part. My eleven comrades and I were even forced to do a Rockettes style kick line. Kicking isn’t really a problem for me, but remembering choreography is another story. We were to do three alternating kicks and then add a “kick ball change” and repeat the previous foot. For those of you unfamiliar with dance terms, kick ball changes are just another way of saying “Kelsy will forget the direction and accidentally kick the people standing next to her every single time, especially when the judges are watching.”
I’m very positive that I will not be asked for a callback for this musical; I mean, would YOU ask back the girl who accidentally maimed two of her fellow auditioners? Maybe I could chalk it up to the spirit of competition, like “All About Eve,” but I still don’t think that would help my prospects.
Through all this, I learned a very important lesson. I prefer comedy FAR above acting. Those little moments making everyone around me laugh were far more gratifying than that one millisecond of remembering the correct choreography–give me a laugh over a jazz square any day!
Update: I did not, in fact, get a callback. Because duh.