Tag Archives: audition

While Your Were Dancing…

Yesterday, our daughter had a dance audition. It was about a half hour’s drive, and faced with the choice of hanging around for a few hours or driving home, I packed my camera, Dicken’s Little Curiosity Shop and my journal, and decided to stay. I watched her disappear into the studio with a number pinned front and back. The wait began.

The audition was held near a wetland area with well-maintained walking trails and it was clearly a perfect opportunity for me to fit in “my walk”. However, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that my walk was cut short. Instead, I recruited one of the other dance mums and we went to the cafe where I had a scrumptious passionfruit cheesecake and a cappuccino… quite the antithesis of a brisk walk.

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However, with another hour to go, I set out again armed with my trusty DSLR and followed my eye.

It’s Autumn here now and while most days are still warm and beautifully sunny, there’s that chill to the air. I must admit that for many of us, it’s a much welcome chill. Not unsurprisingly, the Summer heat can be just a little too intense, and the sun too bright. Personally, in that Goldilocks kind of way, Spring and Autumn are just right.

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A single leaf dangling in the blue sky…a striking beauty in old age.

 

In Australia, many, if not all of our native trees, don’t lose their leaves in Autumn and if it weren’t for the immigrants, there wouldn’t be any flashes of Autumn colour at all. Older, more established areas tend to have more deciduous trees than newer areas, which tend to go for Australian natives. Where we live near the beach, you have to look pretty hard to find any Autumn colour.

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However, as I was strolling around near the cafe, I spotted a plane tree with a single golden leaf, which looked rather striking and photo-worthy, particularly in the absence of much competition.

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I also found this fallen down leaf which had so much character and a lifetime of stories stored inside its veins.

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However, I didn’t just enjoy watching the leaves. Rather, I also loved walking through them and hearing that magnificent crunch underfoot. I remember seeing my children running through piles of Autumn leaves at my parents’ place when they were little and I still feel that magic. I always will.

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Just outside the audition venue, there was an amazing patch of native grass. It was late afternoon heading towards sunset when the light is at its magic best and the grasses just glowed. They were ever so simple, and yet absolutely magnificent.

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So, in the end, I didn’t even open my book or my journal and this serendipitous afternoon perfectly illustrated one of my favourite quotes, which I mentioned in my previous post, which was for the Blogging A-Z April Challenge:

Life is what happens to you while you‘re busy making

other plans.”

Allen Saunders & John Lennon

It can be very easy to groan and complain about driving your kids around and being “nothing but a taxi service”. However, it doesn’t have to be a drudge. I find driving along with my teenaged kids is the best time to touch base with them and actually communicate. It can also be quite illuminating when they’re chatting with their friend in the back seat quite forgetting that you’re there at all. You seem to become the butler, not the parent.

You can also make the most of waiting and even enjoy it. After all, waiting doesn’t have to be a waste of time. It can even become an inspiration. All these beautiful elements of nature were all just metres away from where my daughter was dancing. I didn’t even need to go and look. Indeed, you could even say they were waiting for me! How lucky was I!

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Never a dull moment!

After all, we truly live in a beautiful world!

Carpe Diem. Seize the day!

Have you been out into nature lately? Where have you been?

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Weekend Coffee Share, April 1st, 2018.

Welcome to our Easter Sunday Weekend Coffee Share…and April Fool’s Day!

Personally, I’m not too sure about Easter Sunday also being April Fool’s Day and as if that wasn’t already bad enough, here in Sydney, we’re turning the clocks back an hour and it’s the end of Daylight Saving Time. However, you just try telling that hot sun that it isn’t Summer! It’s currently 27ºC or 81ºF and I feel like heading off to the beach.

How was your week? Are you doing anything special for Easter?

We celebrated Easter with my parents last night, to avoid the traffic today and we also wanted to attend our local Church. Things can get a bit crazy at times, can’t they and you just have to spread things out to dissipate the madness.

Anyway, I made a pavlova to take down for dessert. This turned into quite an epic saga, because the eggs refused to separate and I basically went through twice the number of eggs to get 6 that worked. Then, just to totally blow out my stress levels, I dropped he final egg yolk into the five, perfect egg whites and it was looking like I was having to start again from scratch if it wasn’t for a bit of artful “fishing”. Even then, I still wasn’t sure I’d removed all the stray traces of yolk and thought I’d beat them up and see how it went. Fine! Phew! Anyway, of course when I arrive at my parents’ place, my Dad said it looked like the perfect pavlova and by the time our daughter had added the cream and decorative touches, it was. Goes to show, you don’t always knows what goes on behind the scenes to produce perfection, and we could all ease up on ourselves a bit.

Our big news last week was the our daughter had an audition for a speaking part in a musical, and the two of us headed down on Thursday to Surry Hills. Surry Hills is a short walk from Central Station, which is about a 80 minute train ride from here. Our daughter recently turned 12 and she had her first audition for the Sound of Music a few years ago. That was for the second youngest Von Trapp and it was a singing part. So, we had a fair bit of practice in the kitchen. I had the flu at the time and was on the nebuliser for asthma, so it was a surreal experience, but I got her there…along with an army escort from her Godfather who is in the reserves. This time, the reheasal side of things was easier, but I had trouble finding a reasonable head shot. Although I clearly do a lot of photography, she avoids the camera and a head shot is different from your standard photo. It’s like a portrait crossed with a passport photo. I chose a photo which I thought was alright. However, when I printed it up, there was one stray hair across her face and her makeup was ever so slightly cakey. So, I had to dash home and search for some more before the shop shut. I realize that I now need to take some purpose head shots. They’re very demanding and every little freckle or touch of poor lighting shows up so they need to be done with meticulous attention to detail on my part, while trying to capture a relaxed, natural look on hers. That’s going to take some practice, and a bit of luck.

Before and after her audition, we walked around Surry Hills and watched the neighbourhood pass by. Anything goes in Surry Hills, so people watching was a lot of fun and a few of the local dogs also entertained us. You can read about it here: Surry Hills Through the Lens.

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Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to prepare for the Blogging A-Z Challenge, which also kicks of today. This year, my theme is…Letters To Dead Artists. I love my research and am finding it very hard to pull back and actually write. These artists are fascinating and when I’m looking at how their artworks inspired me as well as their bios and background info, it’s very hard to pull back and keep the word limit down. Find a focus and just stick to that narrow piece of what really is a mind-bogglingly huge and complex puzzle. After all, we’re talking about trying to encapsulate creative genius here and that’s no easy undertaking at all. Indeed, I know I’ve bitten off too much and I’m already feeling very stressed and wondering how I’ll ever get it finished in time. Yet, two years ago my theme was Letters to Dead Poets. That was equally intense and overwhelming. Yet, I finished and I had a solid body of work at the end of it. It was a significant achievement.

Well, on that note, I’d better get moving. Are any of you taking part in the A-Z Challenge? If so, please leave a link in the comments below as well as a brief overview of your theme. A inherent part of the challenge is that you read at least 5-10 other blogs every day, which is also why I’ve been trying to write ahead and get this series cracking. Unfortunately, the other areas of my life haven’t got with the plan and so I’m concerned. Can I pull it off? Yes, I can…

Well, on that note, I’d better head off and get cracking. I hope you have a great week!

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Alli.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Bless Our Little Violinist!

Today, I received an urgent SOS. No! NOT an SMS, but a real SOS. It read: “Mummy, I have a week to learn Fur Elise (her choice) on her violin for an audition. Please book me in for as many lessons as you can!!!!!”

If there is one thing I have learned from my kids, it’s to expect the unexpected. That as much as I try to be the conductor and orchestrate the piece, the players are busy composing their own thing and improvising instead. Obviously, there are no guarantees that it’s going to be a harmonious mix when it all comes together either. Much more likely, that the sounds will be wondering randomly all over the place like lost sheep. However, all is not lost. With three sheep dogs under one roof, hopefully they can retrieve the notes and bring it all back together. By now, I guess you’ve realized that we’re not traveling systematically in a straight line. Rather, our paths are more like a spider’s web AND for better or worse, I think that makes me the fly.

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The spark for my latest philosophical rant, was my daughter. An audition has cropped up, and this musical calls for a singer and musician. That is, someone who can play an instrument. For my daughter, this posed no problem because she plays the violin. The only trouble is, that she hasn’t touched her violin in just over 12 months. Indeed, she hung up her bow after performing at the Sydney Opera House with her school. In case you haven’t had a love affair with the violin, it doesn’t appreciate neglect and has been known to screech and complain in very unpleasant, ear-piercing tones when it’s player returns.  At least, that’s how it’s been for me!

The road to this audition hasn’t been easy. Miss was away at a school camp this week where, by the way, she lost her voice. Moreover, she had no time to learn her lines, resurrect her violin or prepare herself and then, we received a note from the dance school saying we were recording her audition this morning. Naturally, she wanted to pull out, but she’d made a commitment and getting audition practice is the name of the game at the moment. So, off she went… the violin case still covered in dust. It hasn’t been unopened in over twelve months!

I still remember what it was like be a kid and leap before you look, not really knowing what you ought to know before you dive in. Back when I was eleven, I filled out a form for a pen pal and ticked that I could speak German. After all, I could count to ten and also knew “Ja” and “Nein”. Of course, I was rather surprised when I received letters in German from three German pen pals. Then, there was the time I auditioned for the Bennelong Programme at the Sydney Opera House. I remember my friends and I filling out the forms and I ticked that I could play the flute, even though I hadn’t touched it in at least 4 years. I got into the programme but was ultimately so intimidated by the level of talent, that I left. I am clearly much better at creative writing.

Anyway, my daughter’s been given another week’s grace before she needs to do her recording. So, the voice has been ordered to rest, and the violin has been ordered to play. I must admit that I’m quite excited about this and I have loved playing with Miss in the past. Yet, at the same time, I know we have a mountain to climb. She not only needs to sound like a decent violinist, she has to look like one and that is almost as difficult. She has chosen to play Fur Elise, which you don’t usually hear on violin, but I’d chased down the music with my teacher. My mum has taught Miss to play it on the piano and Mum tells me that my grandfather used to whistle the opening bars. I can also play it on the piano myself…right through. It’s a sentimental fave.

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Just as well I’m not a ruthless organizer. It wasn’t that long ago, that I had a good look at my daughter’s violin and wondered whether it was time to go. With a cupboard full of violins and three hungry dogs, I’m planning to sell the smaller violins and was wondering whether to add her ¾ violin to the pile. After all, how long do you wait to find out whether a dream’s merely asleep or if it’s dead? Even if it’s simply taken a different path and been reborn as something else, the violin was surplus to requirements. However, I couldn’t be sure and wasn’t ready to put that final nail in the coffin.

You see, I still remember once upon a time…

Back then, Miss was six going on seven with  bobbed, dark hair, a fringe. She was my little sparrow. She’d fallen in love with the violin and despite my efforts to steer her into learning the piano, she insisted. At first, she played and played and played, but after the holidays, the stupid thing started screeching and it was all too much. She stopped playing, but I kept going. Despite all her protests, I knew there was a magic there. That the violin had touched her somewhere deep inside her soul and lit a spark. The sort of spark, which never goes out. Even if you can’t see a glimmer of light from the surface, the spark is still there just waiting to be rekindled.

While her love affair with the violin has been  dare I say “fickle”, I have been steadfast. A week after her very first lesson, I picked up my bow again and I haven’t put it down since. Indeed, through pneumonia, chemotherapy and the demands of parenting with a chronic illness, I have played on. Just like the violinists immortalized on the Titanic, I’m no quitter.

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Posing after our violin performance 2012. Lizotte’s is a rock n’ roll venue where the likes of Diesel have performed…and me! The music school hired the venue for our concert.

 

Yet, learning an instrument as a mature aged student isn’t easy. It’s actually a very physical thing and I’m not physical. I’ve had to work hard, persevere and accept the plod while those around me soar and a little upstart picks up Fur Elise after not touching her violin for more than a year, and plays it. Not perfect, but after 30 minutes, she plays it better than me.

As much as I’m delighted and relieved she can pick it up again like that, I’d have to be honest, and say there’s a fair degree of schadenfreude in there. It’s not easy when you’ve put in the hours and someone else clicks their fingers, and gets there at the speed of light. You want to complain to management. Register you’re angst with the man upstairs. After all, isn’t it meant to be the tortoise who wins the race…

Do you have any tales of going for auditions or preparing for concerts etc? I’d love to hear them. Please leave them in the comments.

xx Rowena

 

 

Dancing for Life…Friday Fictioneers.

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PHOTO PROMPT © Lucy Fridkin

“It’s now or never. All or nothing. You’re a dancer, Elle. No room for two loves.”

Dancing even extracted her marrow.

“Eloise, you must go! Sydney’s too small for your talent. Next stop…New York. A dancer is like a butterfly. Blink and it’s over.” Jack was too supportive. He should’ve stopped her.

“Focus, Elle. An audition with Twyla Tharp…you’ve almost made it.”

Yet, as the plane broke through the clouds, the dam burst. She couldn’t breathe. She had to go back.”

Eyes and nose running everywhere, she was hallucinating:

“Excuse me, Ma’am. You left something behind.”

“Jack!”

…………………………………………………………………………………………

 

This story was inspired by my grandmother, Eunice Gardiner. She was an Australian concert pianist.

In 1948, my grandmother left Australia to make her American debut, leaving behind her husband and three young boys. My Dad was only 3 years old at the time. The older boys went to boarding school and her mother looked after my dad. My grandmother was away for a year and during this time, she made her debut at Carnegie Hall.

Throughout my grandmother’s life, there was always a very strong tension between her career and her family. She went on to have seven children and after performing, she went on to teach at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and also worked as a music critic. She was one of those rare individuals who manage to squeeze multiple lives into one lifetime.

 

 

Friday Fictioneers is brought to you by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields . You can check out the link-up here.

xx Rowena

Military Escort: Getting to the Audition on Time.

Yesterday, our daughter auditioned for the role of Marta in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sydney production of the Sound of Music.Marta is the second youngest of the Von Trapp children and Miss almost looks like a carbon copy of the original movie version played by Debbie Turner. So, it was very easy to picture her up there on stage under the big lights…especially when I’d seen her play Gretal/Marta in a performance with her musical theatre class.

Miss on Stage Performing Marta with her Musical Theatre Class.

Miss on Stage Performing Marta with her Musical Theatre Class.

Here’s my previous post: The House is Alive With the Sound of Music: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/the-house-is-alive-with-the-sound-of-music/

For an entire week, we were living the dream, without any of the drawbacks and it was out of this world! During this time, I imagined Miss up there on the big stage and sitting in my seat at the Capital Theatre with such incredible pride. I could almost jump on top of my seat and shout out: “That’s my girl!” Embarrassing I know but who wouldn’t be just exploring with pride seeing their child up there?

As much as we had our hopes and dreams, we were also very philosophical about her chances. The odds might have been better than winning Lotto but only marginally. However, as long as you’re in the running, there’s still that chance and that chance no matter how small, can fuel a dream, a desire, a hope!

There were, however, two sure-fire ways to get eliminated before the auditions even began:

  1. Being the wrong height.
  2. Being late.

Being late…for us this was the greatest threat of all. It didn’t matter if she could sing like a lark, if she was even one minute late, that was IT! Gone!

So, so with the audition being at 9.45 on a Monday morning and needing to arrive half an hour beforehand, we were needing to wake up with the crows and I wasn’t about to trust Sydney traffic or Sydney trains with my precious cargo.

Rather, I recruited the assistance of “The Godfather” who lives about 15-30 minutes drive from the Entertainment Quarter where the auditions were being held, which is right next to the Sydney Cricket Ground.

It just so happens that the Godfather is a Major in the Army Reserve and we made a few jokes about Miss being too intimidated to take him on in uniform. However, the uniform wasn’t a joke. When he appeared for breakfast, indeed, he was in uniform…just the thing to get us moving. Even I wasn’t game to run late…not even a few minutes, although I’m sure I’ve left him waiting many times over the years.

This was just what we needed.

Indeed, I could use a military escort to get my kids to school every single morning…and a cornet blasting them in the eardrum: “Wake up!”

So, as you can see, we had a military escort to the audition and not only were we there on time, we were early enough to celebrate with a cappuccino and steaming banana bread.

At the cafe. I needed that coffee!

At the cafe. I needed that coffee!

At this point, we spotted our first other “Marta” sitting with her Mum at the cafe and we also spotted a few “Men in Black”. Now, I was really starting to know we’d arrived in something like  movie land. We might have been on the very outer perimeter, barely dipping our big toes in the water but we’d now been drawn into its orbit and I wanted to savour each and every second of it.

Checking the time yet again, I decide it’s time to set of in search of the Brent Street Studios, where the auditions are being held. Of course, I’d allowed plenty of time to get lost… just in case. However, I decide to ask the men in black for directions. Sure, the fact that they were dressed all in black didn’t guarantee that they’re in the industry but the bet paid off.

We were on our way. At this point, we are surrounded by Gretels and Martas and their Mums…even a baby in a pram with a toddler hanging on as a fluffy, white Samoyed runs around through the crowd. There are even a few contenders dressed up in Austrian national dress.

Miss outside the Brent Street Studios where the auditions were held.

Miss outside the Brent Street Studios where the auditions were held.

I pause to take Miss’s photo out the front. She’s not very enthusiastic and I guess it looks a bit uncool posing for Mum…even if she has a great camera. Maybe also because you’re sick to death of posing for Mum and that @#$% camera and just for once, go somewhere and just be left alone.

She begrudgingly submits. She knows how persistent I can be!

We make our way to the desk to pick up a form. Name, height, Agent. Humph. Our daughter doesn’t have an agent and in retrospect, if this whole process wasn’t so serious, perhaps I should have written down:

Agent: Maxwell Smart.

Her Agent: Maxwell Smart.

Her Agent: Maxwell Smart.

Next, she had to get measured and you could see all the mums anxiously holding their breath, as their child stood barefoot against the tape. With kids, all it could take is one quick growth spurt and they’d be out. Miss has always tended to grow in a more gradual way and is “petite”. However, we have beefed up her nutrition significantly lately and I was concerned that all our efforts to help her grow, might have been counter-productive in this instance. I’m pretty sure she needed to be 130-135cm tall and as I held my breath and crossed my fingers, she came in with just 1.5 centimetres to spare.

Phew!

On time and the right height…she was still in with a chance.

Being 45 minutes early at this point, we heard names called out and watched groups of 15 girls disappear behind closed doors, reappear and disappear. I chatted to a few of the other mums and they were all really normal people and their families were either just having a punt or doing it for the experience.There were none of those “stage Mums” that you hear about with the beauty pageants what with the perfect makeup, hair and fingernails. I’m actually wondering at the moment that if you child is really interested in things like dance, drama, singing, musical performance, a true stage mum is anything but glamorous as all your money and effort is being poured into your child and you’ll be lucky top get a haircut…let alone a leg wax. Speaking of wax, I didn’t hear any mums wax lyrically about their precious Shirley Temple…just as well!

All too soon, her name is called out and Miss disappears. The audition was something of an anti-climax and all they had to do was sing one line of Do Re Mi as a group. Of course, I wasn’t allowed in so this all went on behind closed doors but I did catch a glimpse inside the inner sanctum on the news tonight.

Miss returns and we find out she wasn’t called back. Indeed, none of the girls in her group were called back.

Oh well! It was always going to be a long shot…especially as she’s still working on her vocal nodules.

She enjoyed the audition though. Said it was fun and wants to keep auditioning for future shows. I think that’s a good thing, even though this has been such a whirlwind. After all, this was something that seemingly came out of left field and wasn’t something we were consciously working towards, even though she is doing musical theatre. However, sense that a new chapter is unfolding and this was quite a meaningful step forward.

We were also conscious that there were going to be some big sacrifices if she’d got the role. Of course, we would have worked these things out and there’s no way I would’ve killed her dream. At the same time, her brother starts high school next year and that’s a big step where he’ll need us. Miss is also singing with her school choir in two upcoming concerts and if she’d got the role, she’d have to pull out. That would have been a real disappointment and these are her long term friends… our community. Moreover, rehearsing for these concerts will really give her a good idea of the hard work and discipline involved without the pressure…as well as the fun…and we are thrilled she has these opportunities.

At the same time, I must admit I was a little disappointed that she wasn’t called back. After all, I am her Mum!

So, with a day off school, the day was but young. We caught the bus into the city and we took the lift right up to the top of Centrepoint Tower to look right over the top of Sydney. My daughter was going up in the world…even if that meant overcoming her fear of heights.

Miss and I at the top of Sydney's Centrepoint Tower.

Miss and I at the top of Sydney’s Centrepoint Tower.

We are ever so proud of our incredibly gutsy girl!

Stay tuned for our big day out!

xx Rowena