“Some Brand of Crazy” – Katie Florez

“Some Brand of Crazy”

By the lovely Katie Florez (year-round program)


Auditions. Auditions!

What feels like an out of body experience becomes real when I wake to a line-up of texts from friends, dancers and non-dancers. A techy barrage of good lucks, merdes, and kick some ass from at least 3 different time zones. And I spring out of bed and say, “Time to make dreams come true!” And then I immediately get a job and everyone cheers and I’m amazing all the time.


The texts are real. Everything else is just the juicy sweetness of ‘success’ that I’ve imagined the taste of a million times. I don’t really feel like talking about auditions straight so I’m going to talk around them and toss them a coy look over my shoulder. And bring you two positive insights that I’ve wrested from the entire process thus far.

For me, dance is a very social endeavor. It’s why I jumped the tracks on a professional piano career. Being locked up in a practice room for 8 hours a day would quite literally drive me mad. Unfortunately (fortunately?), going on auditions and being on planes alone, and getting lost without Google Maps has made me equally as insane. Audition season brings on a whole new brand of crazy.

This brings me to my first audition insight: hanging out with yourself. Being alone is such an incredibly scary and important skill to develop. A wise mentor explained the importance of feeding your passion and making sure that how you stoke your fire isn’t dependent on the environment that you are in. I know what feeling the butterflies of learning a phrase in 60 seconds is and being called by a number and forgetting that my name is Kathryn, not Katie, during important formal events. Over the past year of travel in and out of the states, I’ve realized that I have a lot more practice dealing with being a dancer than I do dealing with being by myself. And how beautiful is it when we can learn to be ourselves by being by ourselves?

As I mentioned earlier, I enjoy the social aspects of dance and life. I could sit down on a bus, train, sidewalk, plane, bench, or barstool and talk to just about anyone. I’ve found that being alone is a rare experience for me, mostly by choice. But, as my wise mentor explained, you have to figure out how to maintain what you are regardless of what or who is around you. My increased comfort in being alone, although I have a long way to go, has brought me much satisfaction. The frame that it provides for ‘dancer me’ as it grows stronger, undoubtedly enhances my ability to present myself in any studio in the company of both familiar and unfamiliar dancers.

With my penchant for sociability and passion for moving, the question has never been why do I dance. That has a long, obvious, universally understood answer. And if you’re reading this blog post you probably are a dancer or know a dancer, and you ‘get it’ to some extent. The question is how do I keep dancing. I’ve heard rejection via poorly written emails with generic greetings, firmly spoken ‘no thank you’s’, and even snail mail ‘we hope you find your ways.’ I also get thumbs up emojis, let me know how it goes, and you’re gonna kill it texts before an audition and it’s like bread and water in a desert. There’s something so sweet and pure and untainted in people’s well wishes for you from outside of the war zone. Their words seep in through your eyes and ears and turn into a chanting audience surrounding a passion that you continue to feed and hold internally ever closer.

My other insight: support. When I step into an audition I know that what I am doing alone was crafted and enabled by so many others. I always feel such a sense of generosity when I can share my dancing. It fascinates me how bottomless that reservoir can feel. The support that I receive from people outside of the ring encourages me to be fearless about diving deeper and deeper. There’s something about this art form that feels dangerous as if we’re living on the edge of ecstasy and suffocation and it’s truly immense. And you kind of just keep going because you know that you have this fan section in the back of your head that will always save you if you need saving.

What I’m realizing is that auditions haven’t taught me much about dancing. I rarely take away any revelations from being in a stressed out room of men and women who are grasping for that juicy bite of success. However, I often feel a sense of personal achievement when I return home. Don’t underestimate the feat of being happy being alone and risking yourself out into the universe as a dancer and more importantly, a person. Auditions are practice for the extreme times in your life when you are expected to be amazing in unrealistic situations and you are alone. And after all of that if you can come out on top, I am convinced that your potential to be magnificent is limitless.


Adventures Abroad: Andrea Thompson

Good friend and Conservatory alumna Andrea Thompson reports from her travels abroad, which started on a Birthright trip to Israel and continues this spring with a string of auditions.  Here, she writes about her experience after Batsheva Dance Company’s winter Gaga intensive and the first round of auditions for the Ensemble.

DAY BEFORE AUDITIONS: I got to experience a Batsheva ballet class! Claire, the Ensemble director, taught the class which was mainly for the Ensemble but overrun by people from the main company. Bobbi took ballet 🙂

It felt much like the Conservatory in terms of environment: safe to go for things, push pirouettes and beats and things you don’t get to do there on a daily basis. I’m really glad I got to see what the once-a-month ballet there is like. I must admit that during the intensive and in fact my whole month-plus in Israel I have not really missed ballet because Gaga and Batsheva’s rep have felt so full and complete on their own. Though in the four ballet classes I have taken since November I can definitely tell that it’s been a while…

After ballet, Faith [another Conservatory alum] and I stayed to watch the Ensemble rehearse “Tabula Rasa,” a piece to gorgeous Arvo Part music that Ohad made in the 80s, pre-Gaga. In structure, the piece is closer to classical organization than his more recent works: lots of formations and duets and patterns and some unisons. I loved it. If there were a part of me that would miss classicism, this piece satisfies that appetite. The music alone holds enough “beauty” in a traditional sense–as opposed to the “finding beauty in things that are grotesque, extreme, or exaggerated” category–that I was immediately and unquestioningly hooked into watching. It is exactly what I want to dance: inventive and surprising movement accompanying fantastic music that picks you up and sweeps you off your feet.

Faith and me after the winter Gaga intensive, looking BEAT!

Faith and me after the winter Gaga intensive, looking BEAT!

AUDITION, DAY 1: There were three sessions of auditions throughout the day, each with about 60 people. I was in the earliest group from 9-12:30. We started with a Gaga class taught by a girl in the Ensemble–obviously, no one watched. Then we learned a bit of rep from  one of the company members, a tiny firecracker in the main company. She didn’t tell us what it was except that it was a solo she does in some piece. I liked it a lot. She taught us the material and the co-associate director of the main company and rehearsal director for the Ensemble chimed in with more information about qualities and dynamics to get us juicing everything there was out of the movement.

We did the phrase in groups of 11, and being that my number was 5, I was in the first group for everything. We spent probably an hour and a half learning and then doing the phrase in groups, then each group got 2-3 minutes for improvisation. No interacting, just improvising in your own box of space.

And that was the end! We went upstairs and half an hour later Claire came up and read the list of numbers for the people who they wanted to see the next day. The good thing about being #5 out of 60 was that I had very little suspense! I was called, so Saturday I returned.

DAY 2: There were 34 of us; my French friend who also did the Gaga intensive and I were the only non-Israelis there. A former company member of 10 years taught Gaga. It was perfect because my nerves were a bit higher that day, and with him I got to bomb around and get some jitters out–sweaty time! Then another company member taught something from Humus! I had learned it from Bobbi at SFCD summer 2009 and good thing, because I was #2, in the first group for everything and had to look sharp. We worked for about an hour and a half on it and they made a cut.  Then the last 20 of us did that together with the phrase from yesterday. Ohad came for the last hour or so, and he saw both phrases and then a three-minute improv (four people at a time: “Show us what kind of creature you are,” he said).

They made another cut sort of–15 out of those 20 people were invited to the February audition, including my friend and myself. They said that some of us don’t have to go if we can’t make it because they know us now.

So excited to return and keep putting myself out there!

Suzanne Dellal Center

A view into the Suzanne Dellal courtyard from Varda, Batsheva’s biggest studio and the one we used for the intensive

View from the other side of Varda on a cloudier day- overlooking the Neve Tsedek neighborhood and beyond the street lights and palm trees, the Mediterranean Sea!

View from the other side of Varda on a cloudier day- overlooking the Neve Tsedek neighborhood and beyond the street lights and palm trees, the Mediterranean Sea!