I decided to write this entry while sitting in the lobby of the San Francisco Ballet School, waiting for Cameron to audition for the School of American Ballet’s (SAB) summer program. Just a few minutes ago, applause broke out when the SAB staff arrived - the applause was because their flight had been significantly delayed, and they were more than 2 hours late arriving.
As a result of the delay, the schedule was a mess. The lobby was jammed with dancers and parents filling every chair and most of the floor space because the 12- and 13-year-olds (who were supposed to finish at 4:30) were still in the lobby waiting to be called in, and the 14- and 15-year-olds were arriving for their 4:30 audition time. Shortly before the SAB folks pulled up to the curb, the 12-, 13-, and 14-year-olds were taken back to work on filling out their audition forms, as well as to get started warming up. The schedule for the rest of the afternoon was still up in the air.
To add to the lobby scene, it’s raining, so the parents who would otherwise stroll over to Hayes Valley to enjoy the shops and restaurants there (like me!) are choosing to stay indoors instead.
I’m enjoying looking at all of these teenagers and guessing if they’re first-timers or veterans of the summer program audition process. I remember last year, when Cameron and his friends were of the first-timer variety, watching them trying to hide their nerves.
Many of the kids here in the lobby seem to know each other from other summer programs or even just the auditions. I asked Cameron if he saw anybody he recognized, and he said there were a few that he recognized from last year’s auditions.
It is possible that Cameron may end up auditioning at about the time he was supposed to, since it looks like they have collapsed the age groups to try to catch up with their original schedule.
They just announced that they are indeed trying to collapse the age groups from three to two. Many parents breathed a sigh of relief, just knowing what the plan is now. Undoubtedly, some of them had post-audition plans that have now been dashed.
I must admit I take an almost evil delight seeing teenagers forced to be a little uncomfortable and nervous. I think it’s good for kids to get out of their comfort zone once in a while. I know many of us adults are sometimes - often, for some - thrown into situations out of our own comfort zones, so it’s probably a good idea to get some practice in while you're a teenager. When the kids survive this experience - actually, they usually thrive - it teaches them that dealing with the unknown or unexpected is not only tolerable, but, in some respects, downright fun. For one thing, at some point during the audition, they realize they’re all in the same boat. They also figure out that being nervous can be a good thing if they can channel that nervous energy into positive energy.
A few minutes ago, they called the 15- and 16-year-olds back, along with any of the 14s that weren’t here for the early call to go with the 12s and 13s. Yes, it’s confusing.
A 16-year-old girl just walked in with her mom, and hurriedly (yet calmly) signed in and went back to where that group was gathered to warm up and fill out the paperwork, etc. I noticed that neither the mom nor daughter seemed bothered by the change to the published plan - they are likely veterans of the auditioning process, and have had these experiences happen from time to time. I imagine the daughter’s past “out of comfort zone” experiences from these auditions probably helped. She didn’t freak out when she looked around and realized everyone in her age group was already back there somewhere getting ready.
Watching the older dancers (the 15s, 16s, 17s, 18s) come in and out is quite interesting. These young people just ooze self-confidence. This seems to be a common product of years of ballet training: you can’t be out-of-shape, you can’t be shy, you can’t have a poor self-image. When you’re dancing on stage, you are very much exposed, both in terms of dance movements and physical appearance. Plus, just like in sports competition, kids figure out that it doesn’t hurt to have a bit of a swagger when you walk in the room.
The scene is pretty quiet. Most of the older dancers have arrived and gone back to tackle the administrative steps, so it’s just those of us parents who opted to hang out indoors left. The first group is expected to finish up the audition itself in about 20 minutes. Then they’ll hand in their info cards, payments, and finally come out to greet us.
I notice that many of the parents have struck up conversations with other parents. This is always enjoyable for me because the vast majority of the parents are very nice. I’m sure there are some overbearing ones who believe their son or daughter is the next superstar of the ballet world, but I haven’t actually met any of them yet.
Cameron, sporting a stick-on number “20” on his chest, just came out to get the cash he needed to pay for the audition. They didn’t want the kids bringing cash back to the audition with them, for fear they might lose it. He was smiling, so things apparently went OK.
I was chatting with a mom of a 7th grade girl, when the girl and her friends emerged from the doors leading to the studios. The friends were bubbling over with excitement: “She got a scholarship!!” Sure enough, the audition team had pulled this girl aside after the audition class and not only offered her admission on the spot (which apparently does happen with various companies/schools on occasion), but offered her a full scholarship! The mom was kind of speechless, admitting that she really didn’t know much about ballet. She told us that her daughter was really thinking of this specific audition just as “auditioning experience” (a common mental approach that can be valuable), but now they’ll have to reconsider. Who wouldn’t want to spend a month at Lincoln Center on someone else’s dime?! A reporter from the San Francisco Examiner was there to cover the audition, and interviewed the mom for her article.
Cameron finally finished up with making sure he was appropriately signed in, and joined me in the lobby. I got the quick run-down of how things went, which was pretty well. Later, he noted that the combinations they had to do were more complex than in some other auditions, which usually favors him because he picks up choreography very quickly.
So now the wait begins - for SAB, they say they will email acceptances within three days of the audition, with all results being mailed within a couple of weeks. Last year, Cameron was not accepted, which didn’t bother him at all. I don’t think it would bother him this time, either, but it sure would be nice to spend a few weeks of the summer in New York....
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Great Marty, but I expected perhaps a photo of you in a tutu?
Posted by Daniel John Para, M.D. on Feb 10, 2010 2:12 PM
Very funny Dan! So it takes me writing a blog for old friends to come out of the woodwork?! ;-)
@ Joji... Wow, having looked at the schedules for SFB School when Cameron was invited to join them last year, I can't imagine doing that while going to Stanford - holy cow! Thanks for the comment....
Posted by Mr. Marty Beene on Feb 10, 2010 2:03 PM