I woke up on Sunday morning a few minutes before my alarm was set to go off at 6am. This was the big day, our audition for the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. I gave myself some extra time this morning to meditate, stretch and do my make-up. But let me tell you what happened on the way the theater! My partner, Bo, agreed to drive us to our venue, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Lam Research Theater in San Francisco, so we could just hop out and not worry about parking. We made it to the Bay Bridge toll plaza in record time. As we pulled away from the tollbooth, the front left tire hit something in the lane. Deep breaths and silent prayers all around. By the time we were halfway across the bridge, it was painfully clear we had a blowout. We slowly and safely made our way to the Fifth Street exit, left Bo with the car to wait for AAA and got out to catch a cab to our venue. There we were a sparkly sight on the street corner on Sunday morning in full stage make-up, sequin melaya dresses mostly concealed by our cover-ups, pom-pom bonnets, carrying our garment bags. After walking to a couple of different corners, we finally hailed a cab successfully and made it to the theater on time. Whew!
Just like that the audition is over. Those five minutes on Sunday are now a blur of movement and music and expression. We are so proud of what we presented. Tammy and I started seriously working on our audition set for the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival in October. Have you seen the meme that illustrates “the performance” as the tip of the iceberg and “the preparation” as the invisible sizeable mass below the surface? That graphic depicts our experience perfectly. When we started visioning the piece, returning to a beloved piece of music, Saad El Soghayar’s shaabi hit, El Enab, we knew that we needed to stretch ourselves to a new challenge. We decided to pair El Enab with a live original drum solo. We worked with Bay Area musician, Nader Shahin on our live drum piece. From attending the auditions for years, many of the acts that we loved were those that had a live music element as part of their presentation. We knew we were taking a risk because we were not working with canned music. Live music has the element of surprise. Will the rhythms be played the same as we rehearsed? We are pleased with our presentation and working with Nader was a great learning experience for us. We look forward to additional opportunities to include live music in our sets.
There’s an old saying that nominees for the Academy Awards use, “It’s an honor just to be nominated for an Oscar.” People laugh, believing that the actors are just shining the public on, that in their hearts they want to win! Yes, it’s true. We would love to be part of the June festival. After years of dancing and pushing through the barriers of race, gender and body politics that others have placed before us, dancing in the festival would be a feather in our bonnets. But what is also true is the great appreciation for the level of care and professionalism that we experienced throughout the audition process. The informative and timely emails, the thoughtful check-in process, the care given to lighting and sound, and even a follow-up phone call to ensure that our staging was correct, all of this for an audition was astounding. In many ways, we have already won. Through hours of rehearsals, flat tires and the blur of the performance, we gained a lot of confidence, pride and support. That feels like a win to us!
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