anything extra to the deceptively simple phrase breaks the spell instantly.
“I was just trying to experience it rather than show it,” says Nicholas
Just when they seem to have found a groove, Pearson begins adding
Grubbs, currently a dancer with LoudHoundMovement who is audi-
tioning for a Third Rail show for the third time. “When you have that
heightened adrenaline in an audition, it’s so easy to over-perform, but it’s
really about the task.”
After a few rounds, the directors split the dancers into two groups:
Half stay with Pearson in a large room while half leave with Morris. The
six who remain are confronted with a large table and two chairs, one
child-sized. They’re tasked with exploring each of the “environments,”
improvising with each for 30 seconds to a minute. “Don’t be afraid to be
completely literal,” Pearson says. “Gently walk yourself from the obvi-
ous to discovery.” He continues to give cues as the dancers explore one
at a time. The men cram themselves into too-small spaces, experiment
with how much of their weight can be supported, and play with the sur-
faces and negative space of the architecture. “I was trying to keep myself
in that mentality of being inquisitive as opposed to doing a trick,” says
Kyle Castillo, a 27-year-old freelancer who moved to New York City
from Los Angeles about a year ago.
limitations, asking them to spend only 15 seconds per environment
and to follow a simple list of verbs as a score: pour, fill, spill, swirl, rise.
There are a few nervous chuckles from the group, but the men flow
through the improvisation, a smooth intensity overtaking the explor-
“That was beautiful!” Pearson says. And then he gives them more
notes before they start again. Kelly chimes in, “Even when you’re quick,
be even more awake.” Nielsen-Pincus slips back into the room and
requests that the dancers remember to make contact with more than just
their hands and feet: “Can you still keep all of that surface area?” she
asks. The new ideas flow almost constantly, the various directors layering
thoughts across each other’s points to shade the work with more depth.
Castillo quickly learns how to sift through input from several
people. “When you have directors giving you multiple points of view,
it’s about trying to find the subtleties,” he says. But in an audition set-
ting, that can be a lot to process. “I’m an over-thinker,” Grubbs says.
“So every time, I’m like, Okay, just pick two of these things to focus
on—otherwise you’re going to be all over the place!”
Meanwhile, in a small room around the corner, Morris takes the other
group through a monologue from the Doctor character. After handing
out copies and explaining the tone and the action, one by one the men
take a seat in a small alcove and read the text. They speak as though to
someone out of sight but occasionally glance over to Morris, who is
seated just to their right. “Throughout the audition process I was getting
leads the men through a
phrase based on Alice.