Why am I even auditioning for a total stranger? Who would want to watch me dance? What gives me the right to even be on a stage? WHAT AM I DOING halfway across another city?

These, and a thousand similar questions arose in my mind in the middle of an hour long commute from City Centre Drive in Mississauga all the way to Toronto’s Union Station. Above all my greatest fear would be of being late to this audition because then I was afraid that this “Ashima from Limitless Productions” lady would call. Why wouldn’t she? I was scheduled for an audition after all. But the concern was that she’d call my home and would probably speak to my parents. That is a bad thing because I did not have a cell phone as I could not afford one, my parents did not know I was going to an audition, they didn’t know I was taking dance classes for the last three months, but more than anything else my parents did not approve of dance in the family.

All of these thoughts were also in the back of my mind in addition to the many times people from my community and my family who had expressly frowned upon the performing arts both as a hobby and as a profession. To them, the limelight was supposed to evil, the stage was like a room inside a brothel and the artist was a prostitute. I was oscillating between two mindsets – one that reflected upon how this world of performance arts was evil and beneath me and dignified folk, while the other tried to frantically put together a combination of dance moves borrowed from the dozen or so hip hop dance classes that I had attended. As I glanced down at my watch I realized I was going to be at least a half hour early for the audition.

I was NOT well dressed to brave the elements of this weather. While the windtunnel like surroundings underneath the flyovers leading to the Gardiner Expressway were hostile with bitingly cold and merciless winds blowing against me, away from them the sun was scorchingly warm, almost to the point of feeling like a long and drawn out stab of the molten blade of a sword. Add to that the labyrinth like arrangement of the apartment buildings and the distance from the Union Station to the building that I was supposed to go to, I had decided in favour of, and against, “ditching” the audition.

My parents were right, I kept thinking, this isn’t my cup of tea. I am not the kind to survive in that environment of hedonistic exhibitionists. I possess neither the ability, nor the drive, or even any shred of talent to be able to move to music let alone dance.

Remember the last performance in high school from almost ten years ago and how neither I nor my parents could face the audience after that because I had danced? My misery was further compounded by the insistence of the venue of my audition to remain hidden from my sight. I had decided to give up when suddenly I found myself intently squinting at the building number of the apartment complex where I was to report for the audition. I walked towards the main entrance while desperately holding on to the last shred of courage that remained within me. As I walked through the main entrance I came face to face with what I had least expected. The dark haired lady dressed in black with her auburn haired companion in a wheelchair and two taller gentlemen who exchanged some last words with the pair and left them to receive me. By now there was this nagging thought that had fully assured me that this was my last mile before a disastrous and assured failure and that I should just enjoy the process anyways instead of taking an early vacation to Shame-ville.

I have attended four dance auditions since then and have been selected for all of them. Each of those times I have had to face doubt and fear. Doubt in my abilities, and fear of being found out. The difference each time from that first audition for Limitless Productions now is that the doubt and fear are considerably less. This time I know that regardless of how well or how badly I fare, I shall always have a family of dancers in Limitless Productions who will always be supportive, kind, helpful, encouraging and cheering me on. I do not claim to be the best dancer or the most experienced one either. I do not claim to have even one-thirtieth of the knowledge of any form of dance. But with my work with Limitless Productions and three other dance companies that I have been a part of, I have realized that while talent and experience are essential and greatly valued, it is the set of ethics that an artist brings to the rehearsals that is paramount. I have learned that no amount of dance classes from the best teachers or earth can rival the rapport of hard work, training, punctuality, trust, reliability and over all professionalism that an artist is able to build with his/her choreographer. While I have learned to put aside the voices of discouragement and do my work truthfully and dedicatedly, I do still remember and treasure my conservative upbringing and all of the ten years that I had coasted through life without dance. It is those memories that helps me stay grounded and enable me to cherish every opportunity that I get to dance. That adversity from my community and parents is the thing that has clarified it to me that the moment I take this freedom for granted, I could stand to lose all the dance and my most personal means of communication within minutes. I am very clear that be it Contemporary Ballet, Hip Hop, Jazz, Rock n’ Roll or even the Indian classical dance of Kathak, hard work, dedication and enthusiasm are key. While I might have some minor and insignificant edge when it comes to Indian Classical dancing I have learned that to be good at what I do, I will have to put in immense hard work, breathlessness, sweat, frequent bruises, occasional cuts, possible minor dislocations and spasms and even blood if I am to go from being a bare minimum contributor to a compelling and competitive performer.

At the end of the day, it all becomes worth it when you see yourself perform at your best and achieve far more than your own wildest expectations. It makes it special when you have someone by your side who is always cheering you on and praises you with genuine happiness just glittering in their eyes. I have found these special people in my Limitless Productions family. And to think it all began with an audition for “Ashima” lady and it took Ashima Suri’s congratulatory acceptance email to kick start the beginning of a new life where even the journey of the horizon itself was Limitless.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *