©Megan Elyse Fulmer 2014
It’s almost 2pm. The men flood into the holding room. They begin to prep for their first round of dancing. You have two rounds under your belt, and an hour and a half before you have to come back and warm up for round 3. Time for a light lunch.
After eating just enough to refuel without slipping into a food coma, you step back into the holding room. The leftover ladies join the remaining men. Your headphones are in. You are listening to your “Calm” playlist. You breathe into your zone as you place your bag down on one of the chairs that surround the studio. You stretch into a split on the studio floor. As your eyes wander, you notice there seems to be more women than men. The men will be working overtime during this partnering call. While the creative/casting team shovel their lunch in 15 minutes, the monitor walks in.
“Hey everyone! The creative team wants the ladies to wear heels. You will be learning a salsa combination. We’ll call everyone in as soon as the team is ready.”
4pm hits and you file back into the studio surrounded by every eager auditionee. The team is still behind a table at the far end of the studio. To your right, the mirrors are still foggy from the heat and sweat pouring out of the dancers that have given their all throughout the day. You step into a line formed shortest to tallest. Ladies line up side by side in front of the men. Now facing the mirror, you begin to eye the men behind you. Each man will partner two ladies that best match their height. You have to pay extra close attention since you won’t be working with your partner consistently. Focus on retaining the foot work. The man has to lead. If he’s a good partner, he will guide each move using the correct signals. The creative team will be able to tell who is leading, and who is following. If they notice you trying to lead the man, they will see you as an uncooperative partner, and there goes the job.
This combination is much faster than you anticipated, but you luck out with a great partner. The team watches interactions between every pair in the room. They see that you are personable and easy to work with. You continuously follow and support your partner. This is the first time you have ever met this guy, and you are trusting his hands with your body. The dance ends with you sitting on his shoulder as he walks in a circle. A lot can go wrong. Everyone’s getting tired. He’s lifting two of you over and over again. You are doing a great job of pulling your weight no matter how run down you have become over the last 11 hours of being awake and on the go. If you both want the job, you have to keep it together. Feeding off of adrenaline, you continue to drill alone and swap sweat as you share your partner with another woman. You can’t wait for a long shower.
It’s almost 5pm. “Alright everybody, take another minute to work through the number with each partner, and then we will call you up two couples at a time.”
You have two chances to get this right. The men get four. If he misses a step, you have to try your best to keep going without leading him. Above all, breathe. You have been doing some really great work all day. Just a little longer to go. Don’t let the momentum slip now.
You join your fellow dancers in a clump along the right side of the studio. You review each step as you go. You look to your left, and your partner is there. He gives you a nod, and an assuring pat on the back. Everyone eagerly waits to be called up to the center of the studio.
“Up next we’ll have Allie Donaldson and her partner downstage, and Megan Elyse Fulmer and her partner upstage.”
You and your partner grab hands and walk to your spot in the center. Immediately, you two get into the zone. There is a lot of intro music, and the choreography is intimate. You begin free styling a moment of just meeting in the club, connecting on the dance floor, and doing your own salsa steps. After all, you two did just meet each other an hour ago. Your story line isn’t far from reality.
You two are killing it! You feel so free as he guides you into every step. There is something so liberating about being spun around and swept off your feet. Before you know it, you are already on his shoulder spinning, truly feeling like you are “every woman”.
“Awesome you guys. Now switch positions. Allie and Brendon upstage, Megan and Jason downstage.”
You already nailed the combination one time. You know you can do it again. Out of the corner of your eye, you can see the team truly taking interest in you. You can feel their serious consideration of putting you in this show. Just one more. You are every woman. It’s all in you.
The intro music plays, and you appear to have the same backstory, but with totally different moves. It’s still within the style of the rest of the dance. You guys got this.
You two start off strong, but his foot work slips from his mind. As you two continue to hold eye contact, you give him the nod of reassurance. In your mind you tell him “It’s ok. We’ll keep it going,” and you can see he got the hint. No matter what, you must let him lead. You trust that he can get it together. With that energy, he pulls through and you make it through the last four 8 counts. Before you know it, you’re back on his shoulder feeling more confident than ever about all of the hard work you’ve put in today.
“Thank you guys! Next two partners.”
You two head to the far right corner of the room hand in hand.
“Sorry I got tripped up. You’ve been an awesome partner.” he whispers.
“No problem at all. You’re a great partner as well. I’m glad we got to work together.”
As the last four couples dance, you feel this release. Your body is telling you to start relaxing already, but your mind is telling you not to get too comfortable. The team could ask you and your partner to do the combination again once everyone else has danced. If they call you back another day, you will most likely be doing this choreography again. Keep drilling it so that you wont forget it tomorrow or the next day. The rule of thumb: always be present.
“Thank you all for the work you’ve done today. We will be in touch with you if we need anything else. Enjoy the rest of your evening.”
Applause ripples through the studio. Everyone grabs their waters and towels and makes their way back to the holding room. Almost everyone takes their turn to nod their head and say “thank you” to the creative team.
As you enter the holding room, the energy softens. It’s as if everyone just took a deep breath in and released it in unison. Some people are mentally preparing themselves for the fact that they still have to work tonight. Some people had to find someone to cover their shift last minute because they didn’t want to risk missing the call back. Some people had to take that risk. There is rent to pay. They missed this round to run to the restaurant they’re hostessing at, hoping this doesn’t ruin their chances of being considered for the show. You can relate. Luckily you got your morning shift covered at your first job, but you still have a Zumba class to teach in an hour. Take one more breath, pack your bags, change your clothes, and forget about all of this until after your class. Review the choreography for a bit before bed, but don’t get too caught up. Although everything went so well today, there are no guarantees. The waiting game has commenced.