I gasped! I'm still here! The audition was only beginning. Tension shot up with every elimination. Dancer after dancer left with disappointed faces. I glanced around and I was one of only ten left! In the audition's last moments my mind was racing. I had to stop myself from getting caught in the moment or my make-up might smear! For the fifth time everyone formed a straight line across the foot of the stage, and listened. "The numbers I call - please stay. The rest of you - thank you. I'd like to congratulate you all. Oh, before we go any further, Miss Douglass, how old are you?" (15) "I'm sorry, come back when you're older!"
That morning at 8:30 a.m. I had hesitatingly entered the backstage door of the Barrymore Theatre to audition for the Broadway production of "Cats." (Subconsciously I was aware I was still too young to fit any of the cat's paws.) Quickly my eyes scanned the room, judging the dancers, eliminating them as my competition. I analyzed everyone's appearance and composure. Ralph Waldo Emerson came to mind. He reassured me that my constant analyzing is not neurotic, but unique. Then, I signed in, warmed up, and sat for an hour.
The time came to go on stage. I walked in front of the older dancers so my little body could be seen. My chance came to do the historic preliminary pirouette. Somehow I was able to deliver four pirouettes from the same stiff body that had been waiting for hours. Shortly thereafter several hundred of us formed straight lines across the stage. Before me glared a blinding chandelier that brought tears to my eyes. The first numbered dancers were called to stay. My number was called!
Dancing and performing has fostered my independence, selfmotivation, and discipline. It has helped me to solve problems, to investigate, and take time before I judge people. Emerson, a writer who I admire, taught, "No one can know the meaning of any life that is not first his own." I learn from other people's strengths and try to add something from within to my performance, "inside each admired individual in turn is always the soul of the admired." Being an artist has also let me become comfortable with myself and therefore, more focused in real-life situations. It's also helped me to overcome fears, allowing me to pursue dreams and reach goals. I believe, as Emerson said, "You need to take risks alone." There is a great importance for one to "stress upon the extreme value of private self." This creates the individual and, "only individuals can give an inside to the world." The arts have added an enormous amount of energy to my personality and love to my life. I am eager to communicate my love and understanding to all types of audiences. The arts will always fulfill my inspiration by awakening my feelings and reaching people. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.