The Audition

Anxiety — it’s her first professional company audition. Tension — 14 other girls want a spot. Excitement — for 13 years, she’s dreamed of dancing professionally.

Twenty-three-year-old Meghann Orr must control her 650 muscles, her 206 bones and — hardest of all — her breath. She must make it look easy and natural to the collective trained eye of a professional ballet company. She must carry all of this in her mind and on her slender shoulders as she arabesques through her audition for Verb Ballets. And she does. A blustery January wind pummels the windows of the Beck Center studio, but inside there is warmth and classical music to encourage Orr, Tessa White, 24, and Cara Seymour, 16, all members of Ballet Theatre Ashtabula. They perform one of the audition’s one-minute choreographies in front of the 10 current members of Verb Ballets, artistic director Hernando Cortez and executive director Dr. Margaret Carlson. Like a family, the company jokes among themselves as they adjudicate the audition. Verb Ballets incorporates more modern movements into the combinations than these classically trained dancers recognize, but that training has served them well. Of the 15 women here, the company selects only Orr, White and Seymour for their late January performance.

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