>by Judith Smith
In late October, Rodney, Janet, Sonsheree, Alice, Sebastian and I flew down and back to Burbank for an invitation only audition for Paula’s new show Live to Dance. They found us via the internet and contacted me. I really wasn’t convinced it was the right thing for us to do for many reasons. But after many calls back and forth with casting directors and producers, they convinced me that we needed to do this.
First, Son and I got together to map our piece, 90 seconds total! I called it our 90second aim for fame. We decided since partnering is a definite strong point that we do a series of duets drawn from our favorite moves out of pieces by Sonya Delwaide, David Dorfman, Joe Goode, Alex Ketley and AXIS. We used music composed by Michael Wall and Albert Mathias for David Dorfman’s piece. I contacted all the choreographers to let them know what we were up to and to get their permission. We wore costumes from Vessel—black and sparkly. I’m still finding glitter everywhere…
We got together for three brief rehearsals, sketched out our piece, video’d it, made adjustments and showed it to Mollie, Annika, Christy and Kat. They were quite entertained by the three ring circus atmosphere!
We arrived on time at Burbank, found our shuttles and off we went to Dodger Stadium—luckily no rain. It was a scene. We were first sent to a tent w/ a rubber floor, some water, porta potties and lots of dancers everywhere. We put on costumes and did make up. Our few minute wait turned into 70 min. We did a ton of paperwork and ‘shortly’ after were whisked to the warm up/interview tent. Warmer, carpeted and yes, full of dancers and cameras, lots. We were filmed warming up and got set up to be interviewed.
But no, they needed us in the performance tent so off we went! We were crammed in this smaller tent with – you guessed it—lots of dancers, lots of crew, a monitor for the stage action and the host Andrew Gundsburg. We watched on the monitor as a very young ballerina performed and her parents watched. Then, we got instructed about what was going to happen.
We were assembled, interviewed by Andrew and then asked to look at the ramp to the stage—it was steep! Then they gave us a countdown and up the ramp and onto the stage we went. The ‘stage’ was round, plexiglass with a large star in the center that lit up. We got into places, our music started and we did our 90 seconds w/ the audience cheering thru most of it. The wheelchairs slid on the surface and the feet stuck so it was ‘interesting.’ Iva, our AXIS tour assistant said we were all beaming through it and when they panned to the panel of experts, Paula, Travis Payne, who worked on Michael Jackson’s “This Is It,” and former Pussycat Dolls singer-dancer Kimberly Wyatt were sitting with there jaws dropped. Anyway, we managed to not kill each other and actually had a blast. We got a standing ovation from audience and panel.
We were instructed to assemble on the star—which was all lit up– and I was given the microphone. There was this weird, awkward long pause. Paula had turned around to compose herself—she was in tears and Travis was wiping his eyes. Paula turned back around and they stared at us, we stared at them for what felt like forever. I finally said ’are we supposed to say something?’ and they all hit their buttons and three stars lit up. So, we went crazy—we were told to celebrate if we got stars. Then, they all said some great things and asked us a few questions.
Paula ‘this is not about disability, it’s about A+ ability.’ ‘I know you’re a professional contemporary company but your work translated to the pop culture beautifully.’ She also said she was honored to show such innovative dance on her show and asked about the choreography. So, I got to talk about the structure of the piece and who the choreographers are.
Travis said he prided himself on knowing what was going on in dance but he had no idea. He also said we were on our way to half a million dollars.
Kimberly said she loved how the choreography started out strong and built and built.
That’s about all I remember of the comments.
We were rushed back to interview tent to be interviewed. Every AXIS dancer was so articulate and lovely. Then we rushed to our shuttles—in costume and make up— and off to the airport we went.
Sadly we weren’t chosen and you won’t be seeing us on Live to Dance but we’ll definitely be watching!