I had been taking dance classes from my new teacher for about two months when she announced that an audition would be coming up. A musician was looking for a couple of dancer’s for a venue at one of the local casinos. I was very nervous and unprepared. As a dancer I needed to know what the music sounded like and how to prepare a simple choreography to that music. I wasn’t trained yet to dance to anything that was non-choreographed, much less live music. However, I wanted to audition. I figured it would be a good experience whether or not I got the gig.
I didn’t have a professional costume at the time. This was a great opportunity to purchase my first professional costume. I met with a local vendor that had a shop inside his home. There were so many pretty and very expensive costumes. Everything I loved was over my budget of $300 dollars. I would soon learn the name Eman Zaki, a designer, whose designs were beautiful but expensive. I tried on several costumes, none of which I could afford, even though I was told I would be getting a deal since the owner was good friends with my teacher. I said, “Here is the thing, I only have $300 with me.” He took out some costumes which looked very similar to the”Desert Swirl Brand.” The Desert Swirl brand is known as an inexpensive alternative for dancer’s on a budget. They were not as heavily beaded or filled with crystals but it was in my budget and it was a beautiful hot pink color. He said, “These are not professional costumes, but you might like them.” As many dancer’s know, there are very few times when we try on a costume and it fits perfect. The skirt was about 5 inches too long for my 5 foot 2 inch frame. It was also a little loose for my hips. I would need to speed more money on a seamstress to add elastic at the hips and hem it from the bottom. “I’ll give you $250 for it.” I offered. “Well, for you I will let you have it for $250, you will have to check the room for any accessories that go with it.” He said happily. “Thank you.” I replied, ” I can’t wait to wear it!”
The audition was a week away, I found a seamstress who would fix my costume. In the meantime, I needed things I rarely purchase like make-up and hair products. I also needed a mani-pedi and a eye-brow waxing. In the process would also practice putting on stage make-up. The word stage make-up just feels wrong. It reminded me of Drama Club in high school and how much foundation I would have to wear when I played the Wicked Witch of The West. BLEH!
I never learned how to put on everyday or evening make-up correctly but M was a pro. She is one of those girls with perfect hair, perfect make-up, laced with the newest Dooney and Burke purse. Everything opposite of the Sketchers and Old Navy Jeans girl that I am. “Close you eyes Reina and don’t squint, relax.” M said, “I am relaxing. Please don’t put too much on my face.” I said like a child getting her hair brushed too hard. “Remember, you put on the liquid liner after the false eyelashes.” M repeated, making sure I was paying attention. “I know this.” I said. “Ok, look in the mirror.” M said both excitedly and relieved. “My God M, I look like a whore! I don’t look like me!” “You are so weird, you look pretty.” said M, ” You are just not used to wearing it.” M tried to assure me. “I can’t do this, I look ten years older.” I said. “No, you look fine. You don’t look like a high school student anymore.” M laughed. “I am washing this off. I’ll just figure out how to put my own make-up next week.” I said as I ventured off to the bathroom.
A week passed ,and my make-up finally washed off (who knew that you really had to buy make-up remover?) It was time for the real thing. I put on some red lipstick, a little eye shadow, false eyelashes and was ready to go. Luckily, I have naturally rosy cheeks so I don’t buy blush. I put my costume on;my seamstress did a great job and I felt good. I felt good about auditioning.
I drove to the studio where the audition was being held. There were already about eight dancer’s there, all from the same studio. The musician walked in and we all greeted him. I didn’t have any special props with me, in fact I wasn’t at the stage where I was using props at all. It didn’t matter, I don’t think he was looking for the best dancer – he was looking for lovely ladies. Why the hell not; doesn’t every musician want a hot girl near him? We danced in two by two in front of him, it wasn’t that big of a deal, I was fairly happy with my performance. When we finished dancing he thank all of us and left. I had overheard him talk with my teacher about which two girls he wanted. I was a little hurt that I was not one of those girls. ” Oh well”, I thought,” not too big of a deal, something eventually something will come up again”. All of the girls meet up afterwards for drinks. It was a fun time and everyone seemed happy. However, that was not the case.
I went back to the studio and found that the classes were empty. Then the news came quickly that the studio would close in a month unless business picked up. “What?” ” Why?” “What am I going to do now?” I thought. It turns out that after the audition, some of the girls had felt as though they were not being judged solely on their dancing but on their beauty, body and complained that the audition was more of a “Meat-Market” then anything else. I thought about the dancer’s who had been chosen. They were beautiful, perfect hour-shaped glass figures, but they could dance. Hell, I would have picked the same two if I had been him. I wasn’t sure what to say to my teacher, except “Well, in the business you must have a thick skin.”
I am so happy that I have a small amount of thick skin, I needed it to continue dancing. As for those other dancer’s, who did not make the audition, I haven’t heard from them since.