Lindy Focus XII – Life in Audition Land

Last year, I played a behind the scenes role on Lindy Focus‘ audition team. This year, I soon realized I lacked last year’s anonymity once people found me immediately after track badges were passed out. We had several people wanting to appeal immediately, some with legitimate issues (computer glitch, illness), others not so much. Sorry, everyone, but please take tomorrow’s classes and come to appeals at Foxfire between 6-7pm.

Lindy Focus XII brought new experiences, responsibilities, and happenings into my life. Based on last year’s performance, I was asked to be this year’s Lindy Focus Auditions Coordinator. This included old responsibilities (judging audition heats, evaluating class levels, auditioning latecomers) and added new ones (training the audition judges, bumping class outliers, running the appeals session). Along the way, I learned new things, was reminded of past experiences, and am motivated to give advice.

First, it’s difficult to please everyone auditioning. Audition judges must score 20-40 people within approximately 6 minutes. That’s a short amount of time, but that’s why experienced teachers like Dax Hock, Casey Schneider, Nikki Marvin and more were judging the audition heats. In some cases, Mike Roberts and Shesha Marvin were doing extra scoring.

Immediate feedback included some people really enjoying the auditions process, remarking how they liked having two warmup songs. This allowed them to settle their nerves and get comfortable with their peers, so they were calmer during the next three judged songs. Some students didn’t like their audition heats because their peer followers/leaders didn’t allow them to truly showcase their abilities. However, these are your peers and the vastly skilled judges will be able to recognize your dance-ability. We all look good dancing with superior dancers, but it takes talent to standout among your peers. Others, as stated above, wanted to appeal immediately.

When you choose to appeal, you must stand out among your fellow competitors who are also seeking the same limited spots (1-3 available depending if leader or follower). However, as Sosh Howell and/or I said during appeals, and I paraphrase: “We will only pick a few of you due to limited space. We also want this to be the best Lindy Focus experience for you. If you are truly unhappy, please talk to me (Sosh). I may not be able to move you to your desired level, but I will try to help in some way. ”

Lesson #1: Lindy Focus cares.

The Lindy Focus organizers are sincere about wanting to make this a good Lindy Focus experience for you. During the registration process, Lindy Focus gives you the opportunity to accurately describe where your dancing is at. You’re placed within 1 of 3 groups comprised of 4 heats each and then given five songs and nine plus minutes of music to show us where your dancing is at. Then I visit each class looking for exceptional students deserving a level bump. If you’re still dissatisfied, you can come to appeals and dance to 2-3 more songs. And if you’re still unhappy about your placement, I will personally evaluate you.

Lesson #2: Looking good benefits you.

During auditions (I’m the only person that judged every partner role in every audition group) and class evaluations, I visually judged. I was looking at posture, swivels, rocksteps, body flight, triple steps, momentum, pattern transitions, arms, rhythms, and more. Each audition judge, including myself, has taught a thousand plus hours across the globe to many different skill levels. We know what to look for and how to look for it. That being said, it would benefit many people to videotape themselves, take a private lesson, and get outside perspective on how their dancing looks. One judge was booked with two private lesson students after auditions.

Lesson #3: Work hard during classes…

(especially during Lindy Focus’ first two days of tracked classes). Well, work hard all the time, but this is when I’m evaluating classes, making general notes (Track 6: “demonstrating more rhythm, started creating”), and noticing any outliers. We want to reward deserving dancers, those standing out in their tracks. I watched everyone as Track 4 tried Andy & Gaby’s slide variation, Track 7 tried Pontus & Isabella’s multi-wall swingout variation, Track 8 tried Todd & Ramona’s Texas Tommy chase variation, Track 3 tried Mike & Casey’s heel toe swingouts, and much more. I saw students struggling, most doing the patterns, some actually getting it and dancing the pieces as a whole. This leads to…

Lesson #4: Strive to be a better student.

I feel that some students only touch the surface of what’s being taught. Are you listening to every word assuming that the information is directed toward you? Are you studying the instructors’ movement as they demonstrate? Do you ask for personal feedback from your current instructor or partner? If you’re alone for a rotation, are you practicing? Do you remember that student being praised by the teachers for practicing on their own when waiting for a partner? That happened in Track 2. When the music plays, are you testing your leading/following skills without the teacher calling out the pattern(s)? What’s the class theme and can you expand on it? Are you doing enough to improve you?

One day I was watching the Track 4 followers during a Dax & Sarah class. They were working on rhythms traveling forward and backward. The two most distinct followers were slightly behind their leaders while still carrying nice through momentum and actively contributing. Other followers were tentative, passive, or mentally checked out. Tune into class and improve yourself. We all have something to gain from any  class.

Lesson #5: Check your ego.

Once you register for workshops, you’re asking for someone else to evaluate you. Can you be honest about your strengths and weaknesses? Are you comfortable having someone you may not know assess your dance abilities within 10-15 seconds? This is similar to what happens during a Jack n Jill competition. Regardless, I encourage you to check your ego, refrain from blaming others, and seek to improve you.

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Overall, I had a great time being the Auditions Coordinator. Leveling is tough business for everyone involved. Lindy Focus does have one of the best auditions processes from the front end operators to the behind the scenes workers. We do care about making this a good experience for you from the beginning until the end.

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