The Audition

December 2, 2007
Just keep breathing. Go on, take in deep, tranquil breath. Breathe in slowly, out even slower. Only fifteen spots, over fifty girls trying out. The pressure: it drains their concentration. The nervous sensation creeping down their spines: it fades their memorization. To succeed is defined as more than remembering each step, each chant, each count. To transform their ultimate dream into a reality is to turn a simple routine into a performance of perfection.

The unbearable pressure: it’s almost too overwhelming to endure. So many girls- tall, elegant, beautiful, and daunting. Who will be chosen? They would die to know. Now don’t mess up, don’t space out. Millions of thoughts burning into one single skull like a lightening bolt striking the bark of a willow tree. Just keep breathing. She forgot a step! How did it go again? She cannot remember, how could she forget, it was so simple, so easy. The nervous sensation is crawling up her neck. Glancing around, she spots the girl with the least daunting presence. She moves closer to the girl and quickly she asks, “Do you remember what comes after the leap before the first chorus?”

“Well of course, that’s easy,” responds the confident stranger. She demonstrates the movement with perfect grace and ease.

“Thank you,” the shy girl responds in embarrassment.

The unpleasant creature smiled with the least of sincerity and continued to practice her pirouettes. Sweat is trickling down her chin. Hair whips her cheek after each graceful turning motion, catching the glistening beads of sweat. My whole life could be changed by these tryouts, she ponders in secret. To every young woman in the small space less room, that day could make or break their happiness for the rest of their high school year. The pressure is rising. To focus is to fly without wings. Just keep breathing, in and out, in and out.

The clock is ticking. Tick, tock, tick, tock. Time is running out. Five minutes are left until the first girl is up.

“I can’t believe I forgot the steps,” the shy girl softly whispers to herself. She knows she is worthy of being apart of the team. How can she prove it? Perfection of performance is the key. They can’t mess up; one wrong step means one point marked off their score. So many girls with too much talent to let any flaw slip by. Only fifteen spots, over fifty girls trying out.

As time passes everyone’s faces start to look the same. Differences begin to fade. The beauty and intimidation vanish with only the numbers they wear separating them from each other. Without these numbers they are all frightened , nervous, and determined young woman all with the same ambition: a chance to be on that spirit line they always dreamed to be apart of. The opportunity has become the real thing; now its time to make the dream a reality.

The butterflies are fluttering in their stomachs. Just keep breathing, they think to themselves. Just keep breathing.

“Number thirteen!” The coach calls out into the warm-up room.

Number thirteen wipes the sweat from her forehead, takes a deep breath, and briskly walks into the gym. The girls can faintly hear the music protruding from within the auditorium.

Hours of practice went into only a few minutes in the spotlight. Each turn, each leap, each chant, each kick: perfected to their greatest ability. All of it was for this chance, this opportunity. What happens next? To be on the team means endless practices, training until the body can’t go on any longer, until it only desires to stop, shutdown and die. It is all for the hot sunny days out running on the track, going over their routines again and again. Being on the team means frustration, hardships, and holding on to their initial determination.

“Number twenty-four!”

Just keep breathing. The nervous sensation is sneaking down her spine.

“I’m next!” The shy girl exclaims. She grabs her water jug. Down her throat the water runs; the crisp, refreshing sensation satisfying her body for only a moment. It’s too late now to perfect any further. Now is the time to relax, take a deep breath, just stop being so nervous. It’s going to be ok, she tries to convince herself. Tick, tock, tick, tock.
Why would they put themselves through such stress, such anxiety? Is it all worth it? The strenuous practices, sprained ankles, all the bruised knees and hips. A sensible girl would figure she shouldn’t waste her time.

“Honey, being on the spirit line costs a lot of money. You could be doing something so much better with your time, like Interact Club or band. Why do you always insist on dancing and cheering?” The shy girl’s mother desperately protests.

“I don’t really know, I just have to. It’s apart of me. I can’t live without it, no matter how much it can hurt or how insensible it might be. I guess I was just born with a need for it.”

Tick, tock. “Number twenty-five, you’re up,” calls the coach.

As she walks through the door, a rush of excitement hits her. Maybe there isn’t anything to worry about. Maybe the next few minutes in the spotlight could break or make their lives, but with the determination or love for their ambition, why should one audition matter? To dance, to cheer; one can’t survive without the passion. Dance, even if it doesn’t make sense. A passion has no rules, boundaries, or limits.

Sweat glides down her cheek like teardrops. Muscles yearn for relaxation. Endure. Keep breathing. In, out, in, out. Heartbeats explode rapidly in their chest ; they blind all concentration. So many girls, so few spots offered. Keep in control; don’t abuse your mind, for the obsessed are the weakest. Practice, practice, practice. It is all about staying on count, feeling the music, and smiling. Confidence is the key to success. They seek the strength to diminish the fear, the uncertainty, the nerves choking their minds and bodies.
As time slowly passes by, the sun gently begins to set into the distance. Finally, the last girl finishes her routine for the judges. Now, the girls must go home to sit, agonize, and ponder. Ordinary life freezes in an era of wonder and hope. Who will make it? Who will grasp the opportunity to transform their dream into a reality? Perhaps the deserving individuals won’t be the fortunate ones. Life is never fair. Judges represent opinion, not truth. Not all will succeed, but the passion will continue to burn in their souls like fire; only the souls can blow them out. Just keep dancing. The real failures in life are to give up trying. As time goes on, their lives will as well. One audition with only fifteen spots; one life with endless opportunities.

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