Paris By Night/Alexander Technique
Updated: Jun 8, 2019
It's looking like I'm Vegas-bound this month. I'll be dancing with the Dynasty ensemble of Paris By Night. PBN is a decades old Vietnamese televised variety show, and Dynasty will play at the Zappos Theater in Planet Hollywood June 29/30. I'm excited to work with choreographer Shanda Sawyer and some very talented Asians (pumps fist high in the air).
My audition experience at the Paris By Night call was honestly f**king terrific... I had spent several weeks in a massive open call circuit, learning combinations with 600 other people, rehearsing in parking lots and on street corners in outfits that tried too hard, only to sabotage myself in the room with the belief that I'll never be good enough. F**k. The dance industry can be a savage jungle that preys on your slightest insecurities and I was getting through it with a copy of 'Can't Hurt Me' by navy seal David Goggins, meaning I was preparing myself to suffer as much as possible.
But something unexpected began to change the way I now operate in any audition room. Let me introduce you to a little saying called I Have Time.
"I Have Time" is a basic principle of Alexander Technique, a body-mind practice utilized primarily by actors to create more ease and freedom in our posture. When fear chokes up your voice or you blank on your next line, you have more time than you think. You have a choice to gather your thoughts and continue, without locking your head and spine into fight-or-flight mode and giving up on the hurdle before you've even jumped.
Like most, I had no idea that this was something Alexander Technique could help with, and I showed up to an intro session hoping to get the 'one weird trick' so I could stand up straight.
Spoiler alert: there's never 'one weird trick' for anything that both works and lasts.
After a few weeks of A.T. training, I noticed that I 'lock up' in a lot of dance auditions when I'm worried I won't pick up the choreography in the allotted time. I sabotage myself before the teaching part is even over because I tell myself that old story, go into physical fight-or-flight, and wonder why I can't remember the choreo. My body thinks this shit is life or death! But you know what works surprisingly well? Noticing early on when those old stories surface, and telling myself I Have Time. I have time to use my training and learn this combo just as well as anyone else in here. I Have Time to feel how my body moves into the next thing, and perhaps most importantly, I Have Time to let it be fun, and showcase my joy as a dancer even if my grasp on the hastily-taught choreo isn't perfect (because no one's is). That moment requires about 5-10 seconds of rebooting. 5-10 seconds is all I need to come at the whole thing with a fresh perspective and share the skill and style I've been honing for decades.
Dance Technique + Being Half Asian + I Have Time = Booked!
Alexander Technique can help anyone with stress, chronic pain, or old stories.
Los Angelinos: check out Jennifer Schulz at Presence & Poise. :)