“Reinvention” by Ms. Mighty
On a day and a bit’s notice I heard Madonna was looking for dancers, including breakdancers. I had to be there.
After harassing the casting agent and some last minute travel plans, I flew from Toronto to L.A. When I arrived, it was pouring rain. I mention this because it didn’t help the mixed emotions I was feeling. I called the agent to find out what time I should show up at the studio the following morning. No answer. I called again an hour later. No answer. And again. No answer. I was beginning to get a little worried. I finally got through to her …
“Hi Rita, it’s Sara, the b-girl from Toronto. I’m finally here… in LA.”
After what felt like a long silence she replied, “Oh! I didn’t think you’d actually come.”
“Well, I’m here! I’m just calling to find out what time I should show up tomorrow.”
“Um… yeah… I don’t think I can let you just audition”
“But I came all the way – you said it was – I …”
“We made lots of cuts today, I can’t just let you join in. It’s not even up to me. It’s up to the choreographer.”
My heart sank. What had I done? Was this a huge waste of time and money? Was I so silly to think that I could just fly to LA on a moments notice and be let in to an audition for Madonna what was at this point the second day?
I pleaded my case.
“Just give me 1 song. If you don’t like what you see, I will leave the audition, nothing further. I came all the way from Canada, just give me one song!”
She told me I could show up to the audition but there would be no guarantees of anything.
I went to bed with butterflies in my stomach. If given the chance to dance I was under huge pressure to prove myself!
I arrived at Focus Fish about 40 min earlier than the time she told me to show up and walked into a room full of super-hot gorgeous dancers already rehearsing a number with huge batons and hats. It was fast, high energy choreography. I walked in trying not to look as intimidated as I felt.
Rita informed me that I was welcome to join right in to the group and I’d be asked to show my specialty to the choreographer at the end of the day. Wow!! That was way more than I’d expected. I was handed a number and I tried to blend in as much as possible which was kind of tough given that most of the dancers looked like they could have been models AND rock stars.
First up on the menu, a 4-5 hour session with a tango couple. Good thing I brought my heels. I faked it as best I could. I’m no tango expert but I’m pretty sure no one else there was either. After stepping on my partner’s toes to Die Another Day, we then moved on to reviewing the piece they learned the previous day. With the props. It was one of the trickiest I’ve had to pick up because you not only had to think about your dancing, you had to pay attention to your hat, twirl your baton, spin your hat on your baton, all without batting an eye.
It then came time for the “specialties” where you demonstrated your special skills in front of everyone. There were tumblers, flamenco dancers, Indian dancers, Irish dancers, baton twirlers, step dancers, contortionists and this is where I come in.
I put on one of the mixed break CDs I was given at a jam somewhere. The other dancers were clapping to the beat and encouraging me as I toprocked. I hit the floor, did a little footwork, did my head glide to mini headspin to push up to hollow back. I stuck everything! It was well received.
We were all told that they would not be making any cuts until tomorrow so we should show up ready to dance everything we’ve learned over the past two days. They asked us to arrive at 11, saying that “she” would be arriving at 2pm.
Some really lovely people (Dawn, Liz, Katie & Ryan) agreed to stay late after the audition and helped me learn the dance from the first day with the props. I was so tired from dancing for 7 hours full out that I was having a lot of trouble retaining any of it.
I practiced with Ryan later in my hotel room. I was as ready as I’d ever be.
Minus the outfit.
You see, at auditions in Los Angeles, the outfit is very important. Most dancers had different outfits for each dance that we had learned. So, I made my way to Hollywood Blvd to find myself something I could tango in. I came upon “Centerfold Fashions”, and well, the name says it all… I picked up a tiny black number for $25 and went home to bed.
I arrived the next morning, very nervous but the choreographer assured us that we’d be rehearsing for awhile before “she” got there. “She” as in, who? Word was spreading that Madonna herself was expected that afternoon!
You have to understand how big of a deal this was to me. True Blue was the first cassette I ever bought and I played it until it broke. Auditioning in itself is stressful enough, let alone in front of one of your idols!
We waited for Madge, and rehearsed some more, and waited for Madge and rehearsed some more. I was taking a breather near my bag and bending down to get some water. When I looked up, there she was! Dressed in a navy pantsuit and a navy beret. She looked right at me. I froze, then I smiled and moved to the side as she walked into the room. She’s very small for someone who is so larger than life. Hush came over the room and she calmly thanked us all for being there.
We were split into groups and told we were going to be doing the dance with the batons and hats first. I was in the 6th group. The music came on and the first half of the routine was great! It came to the part where you have to spin the baton around your neck. I started the spin and went to catch the baton and I missed it completely. I stood in horror and watched while my baton crashed to the floor in slow motion. I scrambled to pick it up and managed to pick up the routine a couple of counts later but I’d lost my composure and wasn’t giving it what I know I could have.
Needless to say I didn’t get called back to do the second dance.
I came back to Toronto pumped and energized to learn all types of dance, twirl all types of batons, anything to prepare me for the next time I’d be offered such a huge opportunity. I’ve been working hard since. Now I’m preparing to head back to California and hopefully this time I won’t drop the baton.
Ms. Mighty is currently in Los Angeles dancing her heart out.
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