Story Time with Rishone – Just Do It

Let Fear Excite You To Act on The Things You Really Want In Your Life.

We have 2 main choices when it comes to experiencing fear.  You can either choose to compound it until you become incapable of taking action or you can use fear to excite you take action. The fear of the unknown is what causes the most debilitation when it comes to pursuing or taking action towards accomplishing anything worthwhile.

The Dream of Learning From The Best.

I had a dream of being a top 10 finalist on So you Think You Can Dance. It absolutely scared me to my core just to think about dancing live on national television. This is how I knew it was something that I had to do for myself. I wanted to improve as a dancer and the only way to do that was to learn from the best in the business and that was through this show.

It was the end of 2011 and I was 29 years old, only 8 months away from the cut off age of 30. So I was either going to let fear tell me I’m too old and not good enough to audition for this show or I was going to let it fuel me to be a top 10 finalist and become one of the best dancers to ever be on the show. 

At the time they had already completed 8 seasons of the show and I made the decision to be on the 9th season. I originally wanted to audition for season 5 but I tore my ACL playing basketball that summer right before the audition season. Obviously I was extremely devastated and unsure I would ever actually get that opportunity again. However, with determination and discipline I spent the next few years rehabbing my knee myself.

After rehabbing my ACL injury, I felt physically ready to finally do what my heart always wanted. I went back and forth in my mind with so many negative thoughts of inadequacy until I finally said ‘F@#$ it; It’s time to make my mark!” So in that moment I decided that no matter what, I was going to be on season 9 of So You Think You Can Dance.

Action 1: Find the Ideal Open Audition City.

The first order of operation was to find the right city to audition. Open auditions were held in these cities: Brooklyn, Boston, Memphis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Salt  Lake City, and Atlanta but I knew immediately what 2 cities I would audition in. The first city that was a strong possibility was Brooklyn, NY New York but I felt auditioning in that city didn’t give me enough time to prepare. The next option was Salt Lake City, Utah. That city’s open audition gave me enough time to prepare, plan financially, request time off from my job, and prepare my solo Routine.

Action 2: Choreography my routine and Practice!

The audition was February 4th and I took care of all my necessary pre-requisites so it was now time to choreograph and perfect my routine. I chose the song ‘Lets Go’ by Travis Barker ft. Busta Rhymes. I chose this song because It was faster than any other routines I saw on the show and if I could display a level of control that I knew I could achieve It would impress the judges.

 I spent all my time when home creating the choreography and my lunch time working on perfecting it. I would go to the far left corner of the lunch room and put my head phones in. Most of my co-workers would laugh when they saw me practicing but as I got closer to February and I received a promotion to my new position I finally told them why I was doing it. They immediately became incredibly supportive. It felt great to finally feel like I wasn’t on this journey alone.  

Action 3: Landing In Salt Lake City Utah.

After the connecting flight to Salt Lake City Utah and watching the view of the Colorado Mountains from the window seat of my Flight, I landed in the late evening of February 3rd 2012. I took a shuttle to my hotel and checked in. After checking in, I asked the receptionist to point me to a room I could practice. She sent me to the meeting room upstairs. After I was settle in, I went to that meeting room and continued to work on my routine. After an about an hour and 20 minutes I decided it was time to get some sleep to prepare for the early travel and audition.

Action 4: The First Day Of Auditions

This was by far the best part of this entire experience. First of all, the experience of pulling up to the Capitol theatre in Salt Lake City and seeing the long line of dancers willing to give everything to be on the show gave me chills. It was also very cold so that could have also been a reason I couldn’t stop getting goose bumps. However, I got out of my taxi and took my place in the line of dreams. As I stood in line I saw dancers stretching, practicing their routines, others were eating breakfast, and I was just in awe of the moment admiring my spot in the line.

The Sun started to make its appearance and about 30 minutes later I heard a roar of screams and there she was miss Cat Deeley. She was interviewing Winner of the previous season’s 4th runner up Tad Gadduang. This overwhelming energy source came over all the dancers in the line and as the camera zoomed by you realized the level of talent that you were now in the presence of.

At that moment I did what has always made me comfortable, I joined the freestyle cypher and gave some of my best moves for the camera. After Cat and the camera crew was done with interviewing each dancer, I asked Tadd to take a photo with me. No I didn’t get to ask Cat because it all happened so quickly. It was an incredible experience waiting with all those amazingly talented dancers but it got even better when I finally entered theatre.

As the line got closer to the SYTYCD staff I saw the sign in table. We were assigned numbers and groups like: Jazz, Hip Hop, Contemporary, Ballet, cultural etc. Obviously I was placed in the Hip hop category. I did my background video interview, completed my slow motion dance move, and headed to my hip hop section in the theatre.

Action 5: My first time on Stage.

After we were separated into our specific genre of dance, we were then seated in the theatre in groups of 10. I sat in the audience and watched anxiously as each group of 10 got called on to the stage.  Each dancer was given 10 seconds to freestyle and leave a lasting first impression on the judges. If they didn’t make an immediate impression they were cut and that was the end of their journey.

On average, 3 out of every 10 dancers received a yellow ticket to the next round of auditions. That made me even more nervous but I kept reminding myself that I was born to do this. After about 2 and half hours of group auditions, it was now time for our group to go up to the stage. I literally danced up the steps like I belonged there.  As I got to the top of the stairs i gave a fist pump to the audience as they directed me to my designated spot. I was number 6 in my group. The song that was chosen for us to freestyle to was song ‘yeah 3X’ by Chris Brown.  It was a song I was very familiar with so I was excited to show my stuff.

 Dancers 1-through 5 went and then one judge leaned into to his mic and yelled “number 6.” I slid out of my spot like James Brown to the center of the stage smiled at the judges (2 producers 1 female 1 male, and Tadd) and danced like the song was made for me. To my surprise, they gave me an extra 10 seconds to dance. I saw them smiling and grooving with me and then they called #7. I felt like I was on top of the world because the only did that to about 20 dancers out of hundreds that came before me.

After all 10 dancers gave their best improve to the selection, they quickly called 4 number and one of those numbers was number 6. I think I exploded with joy when I heard it. The names that were called were directed to step forward to received a ticket to come back the next day and audition a second time for Mary Murphy, Nigel Lythgoe, and a former top 10 finalist.

Action 6: The 2 Day of Auditions:

I left the theatre shortly after seeing some more of the SYTYCD staff to register my ticket. After completing that critical step for day 2 of auditions, I grabbed my belongings and exited the theatre completely overwhelmed by this accomplishment. However, I knew I had to get some food, get back to the hotel, practice my routine and get some sleep.

The second day of auditions made me realize what the magic of TV was like in person. Like the first day, all remaining dancers were placed in groups of 10 and seated in the theatre according to their time on stage. This time I was 6th group to get on stage. All of a sudden we heard a roar of cheers, movement, and whistling. Nigel and Mary walked into the theatre and took their seat beside a former contestant from previous seasons. At that moment I realized this was it. This was the real day of auditions. Even though  made it through the first day of auditions, this was the day that the world would see. The cameras were live, the audience was live, the dancers energy hand a new level of focus, and the judges were ready to watch us dance.

They went through the groups quickly as they got on stage to dance. Again, like the first day of auditions, every dancer had 10 seconds to impress the judges. As my group was called, the camera swung around to watch us get up on stage. The lights were almost blinding over the judges as we made our way to our designated spots. They played ‘Lets Go’ by Neyo and called the first number. This time I was number 7 in my group.

I watched as each number was called and I got lost in the gravity of the moment. So when my number was called I had some nerves so I started with the Carlton just to loosen up. I danced super hard after being silly. This time I only got the 10 seconds and the next number was called.

After they called all the numbers the music stopped. They asked each of us couple questions. Then they called out the numbers that made it to the solo portion of the audition.  I was disappointed in the moment that my number wasn’t called but Nigel and Mary explained why clearly. I was not chosen to move on to the next day because I was looking down during my freestyle and they could not see my face under my fitted hat. Then surprisingly they asked me to smile so I did. Then Mary said “There is no way we could have said no to that smile if you gave us some of that during your dance.” At that moment the disappointment dissipated and I felt encouraged about what I did.

My audition ended there; we exited the stage and the next group was called up. Though I didn’t make it to the solo auditions, I felt incredible about what I did on that stage, in front of the cameras, the lights, and the judges who I got to know well from watching the show. It was surreal to see them in person and to actually have them ask me questions and give me feedback. It was certainly not the result I was looking for but it made me even more determined to improve as a dancer and a performer.

This experience allowed me share the stage with so many courageously, talented dancers. Upon leaving the theatre I got to know a few of them a little more and we hung out for the rest of the day together. One of the dancers from Salt lake City, Utah, Ms. Ruby Chase, gave us a generous tour of her city and invited about 7 of us back to her house for a celebration dinner with her parents. That made the trip to Salt Lake City an experience that is still fresh in my mind today. I still keep in touch with most of the dancers I met from this experience and it is always great to hear how this experienced has inspired them to do great things.

The wrap up

Accomplishing anything worthwhile takes a choice of using the emotion from fear to direct you towards taking the actions you need to make your dreams reality. I may not have accomplished my goal of becoming a top 10 finalist but I gained so much.

 To put things in perspective, about 99% percent of your first time at doing something that evokes some level of fear will be a learning experience. A learning experience that will help you grow and learn what you need to get to the desired results you dream about. The only thing that takes you closer to that dream is taking actionable steps that excite you on your journey to making it a reality. You will learn that not only do you do yourself a humongous favor but you also meet some incredible individuals in the process.

Taking the steps to audition for Season 8 of SYTYCD provided an unforgettable experience that taught me so much about myself. For those 30 seconds I was on stage I felt more alive than ever before. So if something scares you enough, it probably means you should get excited, make some plans(or take action) and go after it like you were meant to have it. Fear is not a bad thing, it can be an incredible tool when it is used to help you grow. So whether it is something small or something big, think about how much you want it and make up your mind to take the actions necessary to make it a valued accomplishment.      

2 thoughts on “Story Time with Rishone – Just Do It

  1. So inspiring. Thank you for sharing this!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! This was delightful to read and a great lesson that fear is a part of the process of change.

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