Dancer Diary: Am I in Callback Purgatory?

October 17, 2023

If I were to label the current stage of my dance journey, I’d call it “A Season of Callbacks.” For the past few months, I’ve had a consistent stream of in-person appointments, callbacks, and even final callbacks. On the one hand, that’s a fantastic place to be. I feel validated that my work is worth taking a second (or third, or fourth, or fifth) look at. On the other hand, I haven’t booked anything yet, and that feels discouraging. I’d really like to just enter the season of being booked and blessed. (Can anyone relate?)

About a month ago, I re-signed with my agent, Lucille DiCampli. As part of our annual check-in, I asked her how she felt about my work thus far. I was nervous she would be concerned that I hadn’t booked yet. Instead, she said that I’m actually in a positive position. “This is a common timeline,” she told me. “Especially since things have been slower post-COVID. If my clients can get callbacks within the first year, I’m thrilled.” And she reminded me that I’m making progress, building relationships with choreographers/producers, and sharpening my audition skills.

Despite those words of encouragement, she recognizes how frustrating it can be to get so close without actually closing the deal. Take an invited call that I had last month. I felt right at home in the choreography, I could tell the choreographers were happy with my work, and I even got positive feedback from the other dancers in the room. The casting team was looking to hire seven dancers. By the end of a long audition day, I was one of 10 they were deciding between. I had really high hopes that this job could be mine.

But alas, when offers went out, I was left hanging. When Lucille and I hopped on a call to discuss what happened, she said the choreographers went out of their way to tell her how much they liked me. “They really wanted to hire you, and even fought it out with the producers, but they were looking for someone taller,” she said. “Choreographers don’t have to give me feedback, but these guys wanted me to know that they really liked your work, and that they hope they get to work with you in the future.”

I felt a mix of emotions when I hung up the phone with her that day. It’s tough to know that despite having the technique and talent that the casting team was looking for, there was nothing I could have done to book the job. It all came down to a couple of inches. At the same time, it was so validating to hear how much these choreographers wanted to hire me, and that they hope to work with me in the future. Who knows what doors may open because of this one closed door?

When I was sick and struggling for all those years, I would often think about my crushed dance dreams and say, “I just wish I could try. I never got to try.” Well, here I am, trying. I’m making it through multiple rounds of audition processes. I am doing things that, even one year ago, I would have been so jealous of.

So, am I living in callback purgatory—or am I on the brink of paradise? I suppose it all depends on how you look at it.

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