I have some memories of Disney World in Orlando, Fl. My parents took my brother and me there for vacation once in our childhood. I had the opportunity to take my kids there once as well. The biggest memories I have in terms of Orlando, however, are the times I’ve traveled there for the chance to dance either in the amusement park itself, but more for the chance to dance aboard a Disney cruise line.
A dancer for any cruise line needs superior technical skills earned from years of ballet and jazz AND they need to have an awesome physique. I have had both at different times in my life, but never at the same time. In my younger days, I was very thin with the right amount of muscle that is aesthetically pleasing for commercial dance. My technique was and still is not as strong (in terms of ballet and jazz dance) as it should be, due to the fact that I made up for my lack of formal dance training with energy and passion in order to keep up with the prima ballerinas of my class.
Somehow, I squeaked by and graduated college with a dance degree after enduring painfully embarrassing performance in my required ballet classes. At some point in later years, even after giving birth to my children, I was able to “show up” at a jazz dance class and was the “star” student of the day. What I’ve learned about technique and how a dancer late in formal dance training can achieve it is that you have to give into it and BELIEVE you have it. All the hard work a self-made dancer goes through can only be achieved if she/he realizes that it’s in their body already. You must let go of any excuse or forbearing of your situation. Perhaps, this philosophy can be applied to many things in life.
My last audition was a couple of years ago. I had driven hours from Georgia (where I was staying at the time at my in-laws shared home on Jekyll Island) and tried again. More than anything, an audition should be seen as the best forward facing dance class you can take for free. If you practice your best in class always, auditions should be a breeze, however, if you aren’t what people are looking for, prepared to be cut.
Are auditions based on looks? Yes, definitely. Your dancing might touch some people and it always should, but for commercial dancing, you have to have the looks. A lot of people are beautiful and attractive, especially dancers, but there are so many dancers, you need a cut physique. That is a lithe, youthful body with very little fat and the right amount of toned, long muscles.
The dance industry has been faster in social progression than the fashion industry. It’s always been a fair employment for minorities, genders, and sexual orientation, but the bottom line is you have to fit the costume. The companies are not going to make a custom one for you.
As far as technique goes, it needs to be spot on. There is no room for a waiver in confidence. When it comes to jumps, leaps, and any “wow factor” dancing, there can be no hesitation. If I could do it over again, I would do it without the self-doubt and definitely stay in shape! By in shape, I mean dancer in shape, which is on a different level than socially acceptable in shape.
I’m not at all obsessed anymore about body issues. If a dream causes that much drama, give it up. You cannot define yourself as solely a dancer even if that is all you are. You must have other things about you that make you who you are. The instrument for dance is the body and the body runs down, eventually.
There are many types of dance where the perfect dancer physique isn’t a requirement for a paid gig. Teaching, other dance genres (the professional technique still required), dance theatre, and dancing for joy are all options that might relieve a normal bodied dancer body pressures. Life is too short. Enjoy the journey and not just the destination.