|A and me onstage after a Nutcracker performance in 2014|
I took my son to an audition.
I watched the mom-me and the dancer-me (two identities I work hard to keep separate as much as possible) collide spectacularly and peculiarly over the course of a six-hour drive across two states and eight hours of dancing, acting and singing in front of a couple dozen producers.
It's not as crazy as it sounds--my husband came with me to take care of our two-year-old while I tried to disguise my lack of singing ability and convince directors to cast me. The audition hall was overstuffed with 18 to 22 year old actors, most looking for their first professional job, and many of whom had traveled to the audition with their parents. For most of the day, my husband waited in the designated "parent lounge" with our son.
"Hey, I am a parent," Graham joked as he wrestled our two-year-old child away from the complimentary snack table. I hadn't thought about what it would mean to take a toddler to a unified audition. It meant that along with focusing on the song and monologue I prepared, I'd also be worrying about my son--whether I'd packed enough toys for him, whether he'd have an accident requiring a total wardrobe change, whether any of the middle aged moms in the parent lounge would be annoyed by ten thousand recitals of The Itsy Bitsy Spider. It meant that I'd have to yell things like, "Don't throw snowballs at the actors!" on the front steps between a dance audition and a callback. Several times.
It meant that I'd have a severe mid-dancer-life crisis right there in my turquoise leotard and three-inch character heels. There I was, the oldest dancer in the building (at age 25), feeling everyone's eyes on me as I exited from the dressing rooms with a small child on my hip, wiping his boot prints off my tights.
"Is he yours?" one rosy-cheeked teenager asked. When I replied affirmatively she said, "Oh. Well, it's great you're still trying to do this."
She was probably being sincere. I know that in my head. And it is great I can "still" do this dancing thing.
But her sympathetic expression and the fact that few producers seemed interested in me only magnified my own growing doubts. What am I even doing here? I thought after every unsuccessful callback or slip up. The inner audition voice I was trying so hard to keep positive suddenly got real with me. I didn't belong here.
Truthfully? It was a voice I needed to hear.
The fact is, I'm not a recent BFA grad looking for her first job out of college. And as the weekend wore on, I felt more and more grateful for that.
I have an identity outside of cattle calls and 16 bar cuts and contrasting monologues that show type.
I have a dance and teaching career that's a little unconventional but a lot fulfilling.
I have a little boy who loves me whether or not I nailed the tap combination.
And those things are wonderful.