Thursday, March 13, 2014

My Big Audition!!!

I'm sure so many of you are dying to hear how my audition for Walt Disney World Entertainment went on March 11th in Canton, MI. So, I will give you all the low-down starting with Monday night before my audition day.

After work on Monday, my nerves were not as bad as they had been the previous weeks. I just kept thinking, "I'll do my best, and what is meant to be will be." However, I ended up breaking out into itchy hives all over my back. It was humorous. My wonderful husband went out to get me Benadryl. Soon, I was sleepy from the medicine and was out like a light.

My alarm went off very early the next morning. As soon as Matt got home from work, he changed his clothes, we took Ellie to his parent's house, and we were on the road. I was really not that anxious, but I still had a breakout of hives on my back. We made it up to the dance studio at about 9:45, which was 15 minutes before sign-ups actually began. At that point, my heart was absolutely racing.

When I was standing in line to get signed up, I met some REALLY sweet girls that ended up being my saving grace at the audition. I was very nervous thinking about if I'd meet nice people there, and if there would be really supportive girls that weren't catty. The girls I met made the experience more fun than stressful.

When all 152ish of us were totally signed in, we were squished into a tiny studio together. All of us were sweating and just wanted to get started. The energy was SO high! It was wonderful and infectious! The group was split into two, and we learned a simple dance pretty quickly. Everyone lined up to perform that dance in front of the casting director from Disney. They then made a large cut. About 50 people were asked to stay and continue on with the audition. I was pretty surprised that my number was called, because I messed up on the dance the last time that I did it. However, I guess he saw something in me, and it was enough to keep me.

The really fun and spunky choreographer taught us about animation and also taught us the second dance sequence. The second dance sequence was quite a bit more difficult than the first. While the moves themselves weren't hard, it was challenging to learn the dance because there were SO many people in that tiny studio trying to watch the very short choreographer. About 75% of the time, I couldn't see what she was doing, so I just had to do my best at following along. The dance was taught really quickly, in my opinion. There were a lot of REALLY good dancers that clearly have been taking dance since they were a kid, so picking up the dance very quickly was easy for them. This was just painfully intimidating to me.

We all left the room and had a few minutes to go to the restroom before they started calling us in to perform the dance and animation sequences. I wanted to go in a nearby studio to practice by myself, but I had to stay in the main room in case they called my number. They weren't calling in order, so I wasn't sure when it would be my turn.

I ended up getting called in with four other girls, sort of toward the end of everyone else. I felt really really good about my animation performances. Acting like a crazy fool is so easy to me, and I knew that was where my confidence was. The first time I performed the dance I messed up quite a bit. I knew I had to make up the second try at the dance. I did so much better the second time, but still not perfectly. Still, I kept smiling and reminding myself that I was just happy to be getting a chance at this. The casting director then asked us to just stand there so he could look at us and take some notes about our appearance. I could see the reflection of the other girls I was with in the mirror, and some of them looked so nervous that they couldn't smile and be happy. That was my reminder to smile big and just beam with energy so I could stand out. All five of us got asked to stay out in the lobby after we left the room.

I was SO excited that I got asked to stay. I ran over to Valerie (a new pal I met) to tell her that I was going to be staying with her. I was really hoping they wanted to take pictures of us because they were considering us for "face." Valerie and I joined about eleven or twelve other girls to get our pictures taken when the dance/animation auditions were over. I just kept saying to myself, "I can't believe I made it this far. I cannot believe it." I was so disappointed with myself for not performing the dance like I KNEW I could have done it, so when they asked me to stay I was just floored.

After that, I was free to leave. I ran out to Matt in our car and told him I got pictures taken. Then... I started crying. Of course!

I was (and still am) in such disbelief that they held me, given how poorly I did at the dance. I knew that I just kept smiling and beaming with confidence even though I was messing up the second dance. I remember a moment in my brain where I thought to myself, "Stacey, you just screwed up the first chance to show them that you actually CAN dance well... you have to make up for it in your animation if you want to get your lifelong dream job." My nerves definitely got to me in that dance studio. I was getting frustrated with myself when I was learning the dance because I couldn't get focused. My mind was racing the entire time. I think that everyone that's auditioned before in their life can say that they've had "that kind" of audition before. Where you walk out thinking, "What is wrong with me today?!" Yesterday was definitely that kind of audition for me. Plus, I'm so hard on myself that no matter what I did in there, I'd probably walk out saying that I could have done better.

Matt treated me to The Melting Pot (by my request) after my audition. We had such a great meal. It was the perfect way to top off a successful day.

If you or someone you know is thinking of auditioning for Disney, these are my tips. First of all, no matter what you do... SMILE! It needs to come from within and it needs to be genuine. If you don't believe in yourself, they may not believe in you either. If you mess up, OWN IT! Don't point out your mistake with your face. Instead, accept it and move on with a smile on your face. Be kind to everyone around you. It makes the experience more fun when you support your fellow auditioners, instead of being catty. When you're performing your animation and dance, do what they ask you to do, instead of trying to be a princess. They want to see your versatility. If everything you do is done so sweetly and graceful, you're not showing them that you have multiple skills. Lastly, take pride in your appearance when you're there. Whatever you usually do to your hair (or makeup) that makes you feel the most confident, do it for the audition. Wear something that makes you comfortable, but also an outfit that makes you feel confident. If you aren't feeling confident, they can probably tell.

That's it! I'm happy to answer questions, so feel free to ask. I will say that I can't talk about what our animation "concepts" were, or what the dance included. Other than that... ask away!

Thanks, friends!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

What Is Disney Magic?

Confession: Almost every morning I watch the Magic Kingdom "Welcome Show" on YouTube, and every single time I watch it I get choked up.

So, during my daily Disney dose this morning, I found the little voice inside of my brain saying, "That's magic." I realized that "Disney Magic" is something that I never talked about on my blog before, and it's something that is so important to me.

I personally don't believe in David Copperfield kind of magic. It's an illusion and terrific planning. Then I went to Disney World when I was 9 and discovered that there's a different kind of magic that actually does exist in this world.

For me, Disney magic is something you can feel inside of you. It's something you can see in front of you. It's a contagious energy. I've wondered before what creates the magic that touches so many of us.

It dawned on me that the core of the magic is given by Disney Cast Members. It's a wonderful gift that's shared by people that truly believe in it as well. Without Cast Members that care about the company and their jobs, the Disney Company would just be another mediocre amusement park. Every single dancer in a show gives their all with each performance, and it's SO obvious that they care. When a little girl meets Cinderella for the first time and embraces Cinderella so tightly... that's magic. That means that there is a real connection between the guest and the Cast Member.

A few years ago on my birthday, I was in Magic Kingdom looking at merchandise in the Emporium, when a Cast Member asked how I was and saw my birthday button and asked if he could have my button. I handed it to him, and after a few seconds he handed it back to me. He changed the writing on the button from "Stacey" to "Princess Stacey." It was something so subtle and sweet that I'll always remember. I keep it displayed in my Disney room and smile every single time that I look at it.

I think that another element to Disney magic is the quality of work that Disney puts out. It's called the "Disney Difference." A good example that always comes to my mind is when I went to Six Flags in Illinois with my family, and I sat down to eat lunch (very bad Chinese food) under a pavilion. I looked up, and the ceiling paint had clearly been chipping. But, instead of Six Flags painting the whole ceiling, they just got some red paint that barely matched, and painted the chipping areas in patches. It looked awful, cheap, and lazy. However, Disney has TEAMS of people that do NOTHING but paint stuff all over the parks. Every little thing looks so immaculate and cared for.

Disney is always trying to immerse guests in a story. They go all out to make sure that you get a wonderful experience in whatever you're doing. Shops, restaurants, attractions, walkways even are all in a theme that tells a story. There are little details around every corner, and all you have to do is look for them.

Anyone else out there believe in Disney magic?