Last week in my Modern Dance II class, we had a chatting session with this choreographer. His name is Darell (pronounced D-ER-E-LL) and he graduated from Julliard and has done many Broadway productions. He told us a brief synopses of his life story and then we were able to ask him questions which he would answer in great detail. I wanted to write down some of the things he said. I wish I had had a pen and paper with me when I was there, but I did not. So, sadly I have forgotten a lot of what was said, but I will try to remember . . .
Q: You talked earlier about following your heart. How do you get to the point where you an trust your gut feeling?
A: It is not something that you grow accustomed to. You have to just go for things. If it's the wrong choice, then you will know what that disappointment and sort of "failure" feels like. Then, the next time you go to make a choice, think of how that gut feeling felt last time you made the wrong choice and it will help you to make the right decision. You are never going to fully trust yourself. We are all human and we have that constant doubt, especially about our own abilities. But if you don't try, then how will you ever know?
Q: Can you tell us about the rejection process in the dance world?
A: Rejection is something that is everywhere in our industry. We are constantly having to stay up on our A game in order to stay fresh and able to compete with the next "best" person. If you go and try out for something it's most likely a 50/50 chance of success. If you get rejected then it's okay to take a day or two to let the sadness take its toll. Everyone has a hard time with rejection. There is no point in trying to hide the fact that you are hurt. Pretending to just shrug it off does not make you strong. What makes you strong is when you let yourself have a few days, eat some Ben and Jerry's, relax, take a break. But then after a little while you have to let that invisible hand pull your shoulders back and stand you up. You have to move forward. But be patient with yourself.
Q: How do you dress for auditions:
A: Auditions are scary, but you have to stick out. You have to be on top of your A game and stand out. Wear something that is easy for you to move in. You don't want to show up in tights and a leotard with a bun if you aren't comfortable in that. And really, I bet no one is comfortable in that. If you want to wear a leo and tights go ahead but you want to look professional, presentable, comfortable, and confident. Wear blacks and greys if you want but also wear a splash of color to stand out. Wear a color that you like.
Q: What makes a dancer stand out?
A: I think that every dancer who truly loves to dance has that quiet fire in them. It's in their eyes. It shines when they move. They have this sort of hunger that they don't care if they are a good dancer, they just want to dance and try to become good at it in the process. They don't care what others think. They just move. They don't compare themselves in a negative way. They always have that constant quiet fire inside of them reaching to burn something else. They don't dance for anyone but themselves.
ADVICE: Don't be ashamed of your roots. Own them. Be not necessarily proud of them but confident that those are the things that shaped you into what you are and continue to shape you into what you will become.
I don't know how to explain it. But his presence alone was just powerful. He had so much confidence. I got to watch him work with the Dance Ensemble for a while one night. I was so amazed at how someone like that could come out of anyone in the world. They just have to work for it. They have to work to become what they want. He has had to work his whole life, but he got to where he wanted anyway. I can't wait to be in his shoes . . . someday. First, I have to figure out exactly what I want to be when I grow up. ;)