Chapter Five

He said screw you
This is all you'll ever do
It's the only existence for someone like you

For the next week and a half my only thoughts were of Los Angeles. I tried not to think about the Éan audition, or that my mother was busy making lists for my trip. I focused my energy toward “beachwear” shopping and the packing which involved many a phone call to assure that the weather was indeed sunny. I packed a few cool weather items as well, I for one would rather be over packed than get to LA and realize I need something.

“You do realize you can always buy warmer clothes there Brenna....They do have malls in California.” my father laughed as I struggled with the suitcase. “Besides, you do have a few more days before you leave. You do need clothes for the next couple days.”

I screwed my mouth up and pushed on the suitcase one more time. It wouldn’t close, so I stepped back and let the top fly open and the clothes spill out on all sides. Okay, so maybe he was right, perhaps I did not need every pair of jean shorts I owned.

“So, I’ll downsize.” I shrugged.

“Don’t pack everything before your mother gives you her lists.” he advised. I sighed, could my mother piss on my parade any more than she already had?

“What kind of lists?” I couldn’t wait to get out of this house. Of course I love my mother, but at this moment, she was grinding on my very last nerve. Everyday she reminded me that I did in fact have the Éan audition, and that I wasn’t getting out of that, and don’t forget this, and remember to pack that. I felt like I was five years old.

“Well, I know she’s been calling people all week, and she’s been making lists of things to pick up at the dance store, so...she’ll probably have some new leotards and tights for you to take with you. I think she was getting you a new pair of the super flexi hard shoes, and she had put in an order for the size in the soft shoes you like.

“Great. She does realize this is a vacation, not a dance camp, right?” my father shrugged.

“Don’t shoot the messenger.” he told me turning and leaving the room.

The Éan audition arrived, much to the pleasure of my mother. The entire ride to the studio where auditions were being held my mother hummed happily and told me how excited for me she was. Sounded more like how excited she was for her. She was finally going to meet the director of the company. In all her years dancing, she had never been formally introduced to him, and now was her great big window of opportunity. Whoop-de freaking do.

“Now, remember, he is a very important man, he runs the company and the school, so it’s important to make a good impression. Not that you won’t I’m sure he’ll love you. I’m just reminding you, jump high, and smi...”

“Smile. I know mom, I know. You’ve only been telling me for the past two weeks to smile.” I sighed heavily and shifted my weight so I was facing away from my mother. I watched the familiar scenery blur into one solid line of green and brown as we drove out of town. This was going to be a painfully long car ride.

Two and a half grueling hours later we arrived at the studio where the auditions were being held. I stepped out of the car, and grabbing my dance bag which was unusually heavy struggled inside while my mother primped a bit in the rearview mirror.

“Uh, mom...a little help here please?” I hollered at her. She glanced back and nodded, quickly getting out of the car. She was such a big help, she carried my windbreaker in for me. I sighed and followed her through the front door.

Stepping inside the studio I felt the room grow silent and upon looking around discovered it had in fact gone silent , and all eyes were on me. I then noticed two girls in the corner whisper to each other while still looking at me, “oh my God, it’s really her.” Her who? I wondered looking behind Great, just what I needed, to come here, and sit next to my mother while no one else talks to me...because they’re afraid of me. Just wonderful.

“Hello, you must be Brenna, Brenna Hanson, correct?” asked a pretty blonde girl who looked as though she were in charge of something. I nodded, and she shook my hand, telling me it was nice to meet me. She handed me a manila folder and told me to fill out the forms inside and then put my picture inside. I could give it back to her when I had finished. She just kept smiling at me. “Is there a pen?” I asked. Two seconds later, every girl who was filling out their forms had their pen outstretched in an offering. Smiley blonde girl handed me a pen from a cup behind her.

“Thanks...” I said taking the pen from her and sitting on the floor as there were no seats left. Where was my mother in all this? She was standing at the door that lead to the studios hoping to catch a glimpse of the man. As I filled out the papers I heard the other girls whispering among themselves.

“I can just go home now that she’s here. She’s gonna get a spot of course.”

“She’s so good...did you see her at Nationals last year?”

“I love her new solo costume...have you seen it?”

I suddenly felt very uncomfortable. This sensation was only heightened when I had to rummage through all the crap my mother had shoved into my dance bag in order to find my resume and headshots. The girls looked on as toe shoes and bottles of New Skin fell out of my bag. I could have sworn some of them were going to take notes. I could just see it, “I was at the Éan audition and this is a list I compiled of what was inside Brenna Hanson’s dance bag...” If they wanted to know, they’d be sadly disappointed. I usually only had my hard and soft shoes, a small zip lock bag of dance music, another with my ouch pouches, New Skin, band aids and such, and my ballet shoes. Most of the time I also had a pair of poodle socks and shorts, and sometimes a leotard and tights. So exciting, right? I’m sure that’s pretty much what was in all of their bags anyway.

As I was finishing the audition form a man walked in the room. No, he didn’t walk, he sauntered really. He had to have been the most pompous, arrogant bastard I had ever seen, and he hadn’t even opened his mouth yet. I could tell right away, this was the man...the director of the company. He looked around the room and when he looked at me sitting on the floor he smiled. I felt a wave a nausea roll over my body, and instantly felt uncomfortable in what I was wearing. Under usual circumstances, even in front of boys or men I felt perfectly fine in bike shorts and a leotard, but when Colm Lynch looked, no, not looked, leered at me, I felt naked. He cleared his throat as if to make absolutely sure everyone had seen him enter (not that anyone could have missed his noisy jaunt into the lobby).

“Good morning ladies, and welcome to the Éan Irish Dance Company auditions.” He paused and sweeping across the room once more asked the blonde girl, who’s name turned out to be Katie, if everyone had filled out a folder.

“Yes Colm, the only one left is, uh, Brenna.” she pointed at me. Could this day get anymore degrading, let’s try, can we? I sighed, and finishing the final question handed the folder to Mr. Lynch who had his hand outstretched.

“Ah. The infamous Brenna Hanson. I thought I recognized you, and this must be your lovely mother, Siobhan O’Brien.” he smiled broadly at my mother who was simply beaming. I already didn’t like him.

“Well, anyway, back to the introduction,” he laughed. “As I said before, welcome. I want to thank you all for taking the time to come out here today, I know many of you have traveled quite a distance to be here. This,” he paused again. “Isn’t exactly an audition in the conventional sense, and I say that because we aren’t...we don’t have ‘spots to fill.’” he said “spots to fill” while making quotation marks with his hands. I don’t like this man, at all...and his speech was starting to bother me. If there weren’t “spots to fill” then what the hell was the point of this whole thing?

“We’re really just out here looking for new talent, to see what’s out here, so that if we need dancers, we know who to contact.” He smiled at us again, and I noticed many of the girls were nodding, but with a look on their faces that matched the thoughts in my head. The more involved in this I got, the more it seemed like a bad idea. I looked over at my mother who, while still smiling was now pursing her lips.

“So, Katie and I are going to go through the folders for a few minutes, you can all put on your soft shoes, and bring your hard shoes into the first studio with you. Deirdre should be in there, and she’s going to start you off with some warm ups. I’d also like to ask that all the parents wait in the second lobby upstairs, just so there’s fewer distractions.” The parents, mostly mothers, began to file out of the room as the dancers went down the hall. My mother pulled me aside before I had even left the lobby.

“Don’t forget what I told you...even if this isn’t exactly what we thought it was going to be.” she hugged me. “break a leg.” and she slowly turned and followed the other exiled parents.

For the next hour we did yoga like stretches, while Colm walked around the room accessing our skill. It felt more like he was checking out all of our asses, and I really didn’t like it at all. After we were warmed up the girls had us do a series of drills to see what our strengths were. Then, they had us line up in twos and dance one step at a time of our reels, followed by our slip jigs all the while taking down notes and talking amongst themselves as they watched us. Colm took notes too. After we had finished with soft shoes, he and the two girls had a small conference as they compared notes in what looked like a huddle. When they had finished their discussion, Colm again thanked everyone for coming down and explained that they had to narrow the group down to decide who would dance hard shoes. I heard a few girls sigh, knowing they had been screwed over because their hard shoes were better than their soft and they probably wouldn’t even get to dance for the “panel” again.

Deirdre announced a list of five girls, and I was disappointed that I was on it. All I wanted to do was for this day to be over so I could go to LA. The five of us were told to line up in two groups of two and that one girl would have to dance alone. Guess who that one girl was? Yes, that would be me, the girl everyone was afraid of. The girl without any friends. We then danced our hard jigs and hornpipes, and were told we would each have an interview with Colm, where we would do our set dance and talk to him about the audition process up to that point.

Great, each one of us, alone in the studio with that dirty old man, just what I wanted to do today.

“We’re going to do this alphabetically, so we’ll start with Keara Bryant.” Everyone other than Keara left the room and waited in the hallway. The other girls spoke quietly and nervously between each other, barely acknowledging my existence. I suppose I could have been more outgoing, but I had the feeling that even if I had been I wouldn’t have been all that welcomed into their circle.

When my turn finally arrived, I walked in, announced my set dance and danced. I was ready to leave.

“That was marvelous Brenna. You are quite a dancer.” Colm said motioning to a folding chair next to his. I thanked him and took a seat, pushing the chair slightly further away from him.

“Now, I was looking at your resume, and I must say, I’m quite impressed. Just like your mother.” he smiled at me. “I always thought it was such a shame,” he continued, “that your mother married so young. I never go the chance to work with her.” I nodded.

“She’s the type of girl I’d love to have worked with,” he made the shape of a woman with his hands as he said this. I wanted to hurl all over his stupid designer outfit. Who did he think he was talking about my mother that way? “and it seems you’ve inherited more than just her talent for dance. You’re a little knockout yourself aren’t you?” He reached out and touched my knee. I immediately felt sick to my stomach.

“Look, Mr. Lynch, I don’t know what you think you’re doing but I’m not here because I want to sleep with you. In fact, I could really care less if I get into this company. I don’t know that I want to dance for the rest of my life. So, if you would kindly not touch me, or make reference to my mother in the manner you just did, I’d like to finish this interview so I can go home.”

He paused, taken aback by my response, and shaking his head told me, “you know, you are an ungrateful little bitch, and I can make sure you never get a spot in any dance company, ever.”

“and I can make sure you get put away for sexual harassment.” I said pushing the chair away and walking out of the room felt freer than before.