Audition Adventures: Paul Taylor Edition

During spring break, I took a class at the Paul Taylor studios with a friend, and some people were talking about the company auditions which were taking place this weekend. To which I responded “I kind of want to go, for fun. I mean what’s the worst that could happen: me still not being a Taylor company member? (Spoiler: that’s exactly what happened, and that’s totally fine.)

So I went online, filled out a registration form, and got my time slot . . . 7:40 AM. Yep. I consider myself a morning person, but that’s just a bit extreme, and the Taylor studios are quite a hike from Morningside. And of course, if they have the need to start at such ungodly hours, they must really be expecting a lot of people.

Not that this really bothered me. After all, this was the Taylor company*, so I knew that a major chunk of NYC’s dancers would be there, including all the serious Taylor junkies (I like the Taylor style, but I haven’t really studied it or attended their intensives for years like some other people there), and I really wasn’t expecting anything.

Which is really liberating: going to an audition not just with nothing to loose, but also with almost certainly nothing to win. I know that this no stakes attitude toward auditions might not be possible when I’m out in the “real world” needing a job, so I’m really taking advantage of the luxury now while I’m in school.


The audition itself was surprisingly fun. After waiting in a long line and warming up in the hallways, they took us in groups of 20 into the small studio to learn a piece of repertory from some company members. It was a very dancey, expansive, technical phrase with somewhat confusing timing–in 12s (which few people actually got right).

They taught it really fast at first, which gave me some momentary thoughts of “I won’t get this. Why am I here? Is it too late to leave?”, but once we started going in groups, I realized that everyone else was struggling just as much as I was, and I felt pretty comfortable with the material by the time we went into the larger studio to perform. (I think this is a good example of how easy to assume that everyone else is generally a more experienced, capable adult who has all their shit together, when this usually isn’t the case if you just look around).

So Paul Taylor watched us dance. I’m not someone who gets starstruck by famous people, dance or otherwise, but I think that’s still a pretty cool thing to say. Actually, first he watched us walk, one by one across the floor. I’m not really sure what he was looking for–I tried to go for confident but relaxed, but in retrospect I may have overdone the latter.

We then did the phrase in groups of four. After practicing in a tiny studio with the whole group, it felt great to get to take up the big, open space (the studio is huge and gorgeous) and just go for it.

One of the prettiest dance spaces in NYC

And then it was done. And I didn’t get a callback. And I left.

But I left feeling like I had belonged there, if just for that hour. And that if I can find joy and confidence in my dancing in any new and challenging situation, maybe the real world is a bit less scary than it seems.

*Or I guess now it’s “American Modern Dance.” I’m still trying to figure out what that means, considering that not all of the choreographers are American. Then again, I’m no longer really sure what it means for something to be “American,” “modern,” or “dance” so…


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