Editor’s Note: I am excited to introduce the first in what (hopefully) will be an ongoing series, SYTYCD: Princeton, chronicling our writers’ experiences trying out for various dance groups on campus.
I’m pretty much one of the most coordinated people you’ve ever met. If, that is, you’ve only met people like this:
I’ve also pretty much been dancing my entire life. Between the ballet lessons I took when I was five and the mandatory dance section we had in 8th grade PE (I was an expert at the Hukilau), I consider myself a seasoned dancer. So it was to everyone’s concerned surprise that I decided to audition for several of the million dance groups on campus.
eXpressions is probably the only dance group on campus where I have a better chance of getting in than a guy. Which are about as good as my odds are ever going to get.
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Also known as “The Pink One”, because it’s all girls and we’re being gender normative and all the dance troupes have like gang colors, right?[/caption]
Walking into the hall, for a second, I thought I had landed into some alternate talent show competition. Girls lines the edges of the walls, chatting, filling out the audition form, and putting on their audition numbers. I noticed some milling around in full ballet outfits, leotard, tights and all. I, on the other hand, had decided it was a good idea to wear soccer shorts and my residential college tank. (For the record, the proper attire for a dance audition is spandex shorts, or leggings, and a tank top.)
The beginning of the audition (AKA the warmups) went well. At least, until we got to the splits section. Immediately all the girls around me slid down nonchalantly to the ground into a split. I, too, tried my best, ultimately sliding down to a comfortably uncomfortable position that made it possible for me to be roughly the same height as all the others if I ducked my head down low enough.
When we got to the middle splits, however, my legs had started to revolt. Watching as everyone else around me lay flat against the ground, gracefully and peacefully, their butts and legs forming a perfectly straight line, I knew that I was about to be exposed as an impostor.
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What everyone around me looked like[/caption]
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What I looked like[/caption]
The Things Across the Floor
By the time we started actually dancing, my stomach muscles and legs were all pretty much dead from overexertion. (Somewhere during the warm-ups, we also did an intensive set of ab workouts, wherein I discovered that flailing around was a good enough substitute to actual sit ups.)
The first part were simple ballet moves across the floor, moves that somehow always seemed to escape me. I’m pretty sure they were speaking in a secret foreign language during this part, throwing around words like “tombé pas de bourrée, glissade, jetté” with the same familiarity that I use the words “eat, sleep, and eat” in my daily vocabulary. Ultimately, my favorite part were the leaps, where I could mindlessly jump up into the air and hopefully land, albeit loudly, onto my feet. To make up for my lack of technique, I smiled the entire time.
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What I was supposed to look like[/caption]
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What I actually looked like[/caption]
We then learned two choreographies – one lyrical and one hip-hop. During the lyrical section, I somehow managed to bruise the entire bottom of my legs and knees. I wondered how clean the ground was as I rubbed my body against the floor in graceful, artistic motions. I kicked my leg like a donkey and wondered why music had to go so fast.
After everyone else had sufficiently learned the routine (which meant that I could roughly do every third dance move), we performed in small groups. The worst part? The 8 second improv section at the beginning of the song. I felt an existential crisis coming on. WHAT IS BALLET? Did sweeping my arms and pointing my legs ostentatiously count? How many turns could I do before it was clear I knew no other moves? Luckily, by the time I had remembered that I was still doing a dance audition, the improv section was over.
The hip hop section went much worse. By then my brain was already fried from learning the first choreography and I was starting to get sleepy. Unfortunately, all the freshmen girls had left by then due to a mandatory frosh week event, which meant there was even more personalized attention for each of us.
Which just meant that more people probably saw this.
To my great, utter surprise, I was not offered a spot on eXpressions. (To be accurate, I didn’t even get a callback.) For a few days, I fell into a mindless depression, crushed by the realization that my dreams of becoming a world class ballerina were pretty much over. I barely moved, because any movement would recall a sharp pain to my legs (which had still yet to recover from the splits). I barely laughed because my abs were too sore for such a rigorous workout.
Of course, this didn’t mean that I had given up all my dance dreams. Just because ballet wasn’t my thing, didn’t mean that there wasn’t hope for me in some other realm…