Wednesday, 24 September 2014

It's a dog eat dog world out there, and i'm hungry.

Starting at a new school, college, university, job, wherever it may be, is always nerve wracking right?

You plan your outfit the night before and hope it shows off the best "you" that there is. You want to look smart, presentable, individual, quirky, unique, you want to look like no-one else. Everything is ready and eventually you crawl into bed. And be it excitment or the crushing weight of anxiety, you get a huge lack of sleep the night before the big first day. 

I think we've pretty much all been there right?

Now imagine all of these feelings, but on top of that, is the threat of competition. 

Welcome to the performing arts industry.

Now, as you're all aware I recently started at the Urdang Academy (you can read all about that HERE). This place is simply one of the greatest places I have ever had the pleasure to be, study and perform in. I have been put on to a course with an astonishingly talented group of indivudals each with a passion for success. With the ages ranging from 16-21 we have a very ecclectic mix of people from all walks of life.  I have only been here a couple of weeks and already friendships are starting to form/have already formed.

But with all the beauty that comes with friendship, the reality is, we are all competing against one another. 

The Rat Race.

Everyone is competitng against everyone else to get what they want. 
It happens in every single career path, you are always going to have to beat somebody else for a position that you both want. 

The only difference with the performing arts is that you are not only face to face with your competition, but they also happen to be your friends.

Pretty shit right? Competing against your friends to see who is better or more deserving for a spot. Be it a solo section in a song, a solo bit of choreography or even a professional role to play, you are against someone you might consider to be your closest friend. 

However, this is the reality. 

You can make friends, infact I encourage you to make as many friends in this industry as possible, you can be as close a match as sweet and sour to chicken, but you have to keep your eyes on the prize. 

If you want success, you can achieve success.

In an audition room when you are competing against your friends, nice guys finish last. 
And this isn't me being a heartless bitch. This is me just telling you the reality of the situation.

One of my very best friends in all the world, who also happens to be trying to get into this industry, once said to me:

"Harry I love you so much as a friend, but I would stab you in the back to get a professional job over you"

And I have the greatest respect for anyone who has that mentality. For anyone who will be there for you through thick and thin but when it comes to professionalism, they walk alone. This is what it is about. And this is something that the professionals teaching us at Urdang are making people realise for the first time.

Now I like pretty much everyone on my course and I would do anything I could to be there for them emotionally. But when it comes to getting what I want, It's me against the world.

 No-one said the performing arts industry was easy, and CERTAINLY nobody said it was nice.

Keep your friends close, but your eyes on the prize even closer.

It's a dog eat dog world out there, and i'm fucking hungry.

- Harry

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

How A Stranger Can Help Your Audition

You wait at the platform for your train.
It pulls up and you see that it is absolutely packed with little room to breathe, let alone sit down.
But you fight through the crowds with elbows firmly out by your side and through some miracle you manage to stumble across an empty seat. Sat next to a stranger.
You fall into this seat, have a few awkward eye contact exchanges with this person and then spend the rest of your journey more often than not doing on of the following:

In silence
Reading something
Exploring various social networks
Listening to your music either cautiously quietly so as not to offend anyone, or abnoxiously loudly.
Or you sleep

This is pretty much the pattern that I have seen every single day I have commuted to London. 

So I began to think. 

"We are sat in a container filled with strangers. We don't know each other, we have no connections and yet I feel compelled to talk to one of you."

At Urdang, we are constantly reminded that we need to be able to sell not only our talents, but ourselves.
"Why should they employ you? 
What is it about you that makes you more special than that person next to you? 
When you walk in a room, before you even open your mouth or danced they've already judged you.
You need to be more open, more approachable, more confident, more likeable etc"

Every single person, much like yourself, has a story to tell. 
They live life just like you. 
They experience things just like you. 
They live, breathe, sneeze, cough, fart, yawn, everything just like you. 
And yet when faced with a situation where you can quite simply just have a friendly conversation with a stranger, most of us choose to envelop ourselves in our own worlds instead of living amongst the real world.

We are obsessed with making connections with strangers on the internet instead of doing the exact same face to face. 
On the whole, as a society we seem to lack the skill to communicate unless it's through a screen.

And so I took it upon myself to try and start a conversation with as many strangers as possible on my commute. As long as I make an effort to talk to at least one stranger a week then I'll be happy.

This isn't because i'm lonely and i'm desperately seeking company, in fact to be honest i'm far from that. I just feel like we all live on this crazy rock we call home, we are all going through this ridiculous thing we call life and we all have a story to tell. So what's the problem with being interested in these stories?

Also, If I am going to be judged by an audition panel on simply being myself before being judged on my talent, then I need to practise being myself all the time.

You know that age old saying, "the world is a stage" ? Well i'm sorry to sound like a broken record but, it is. 
If you simply start a conversation with a stranger, you are literally providing them with their own private performance of you. And what better way to prepare yourself for one of the hardest bits of audition criteria to get right.

When walking into an audition room, it is always virtually impossible to feel completely natural due to nerves, adrenaline etc. But the more you talk to strangers and put yourself into these types of situations, the more natural it will become.

You can learn a hell of a lot just by talking to that person sitting next to you. 
You never know what they do, who they are, where they are from, who they might know etc.
 The possibilities are absolutely mindblowing. 

The fascination with strangers is beautiful. 

Be safe, Be brave, and start a conversation with someone you have never met before and you'll likely never see again. Because it's honestly so rewarding.

Maybe if we all took the time to look up from our phones, books, magazines etc and had a little conversation with someone we've never met before, we wouldn't feel the need to immerse ourselves in our own worlds and escape the real world. 

The world full of fascinating strangers.
All of us wandering the earth just looking to connect with someone else.
Escape Your Reality, immerse yourself in someone else's.

The harsh reality is, we all get prematurely judged, and I have come to learn that the performing arts industry is one of the worst places for this.
I'm hopeful it will change, but in all honesty it probably won't. So do what I do, give them an unforgettable performance of "ME" so if nothing more, you leave an impression.

The world is a stage. 
The world is your stage.
The world is MY stage.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The Uncommon Commuter

5:45am, the alarm goes off and I am greeted by one of Bastille's finest songs. Not only does this signify the end of my blissful slumber but also another day of hardcore training at urdang.

The train is packed full of people from all walks of life, however one thing we all have in common is the zombie-esque trudge in our walk as we step, or rather stumble, on to our designated train half-asleep.

I roll up to farringdon after an hours journey of battling with my eyelids as they demand to close but i refuse to let them. I swing my heavy bag packed full of dance clothing over my shoulders and begin the last stretch of my commute. If i'm lucky (or infact early) this stretch is usually fueled by a skinny vanilla latte courtesy of costa. 

With my muscles acheing and screaming at me so loudly I am virtually a one-man band, I walk to urdang. 

The place itself is a place i can do no justice with my words and any attempt to articulate its grandure will seem feeble when compare to it's reality. Perhaps at a later time i will attempt it but for now I am in complete awe.

And this is where I find myself. Me. Slap bang in the middle of it. You know I have honestly had dreams about getting to the point in my lofe when I would be dancing everyday and here I am.

My eyes are as wide as the great wall of china is long and my smile aches my cheeks most days. This is where I belong. Amongst phenominal people with uncomprehendable levels of talent each with the fire in their eyes for their dreams to match mine.

The commute may be long.
The work may be exhausting.
And my body may be in a constant state of repair from the day before.

But my god there is no place on this earth I would rather be right now.

How many of us can say we are happy to wake up at 5:45am each morning?

Roll on the next 8 months of dream acheiving training.


Thursday, 4 September 2014

If it's meant to be, It's up to me

Three Incredible years at university. 
Meeting the most insanely amazing people I have ever had the pleasure to meet in my life. 
Coming to terms with who I am, a homosexual male, and being completely and utterly proud enough about that to shout it from the rooftops and not care what anyone thinks.

And meeting someone who I can't live my life without and to put it simply,falling whole heartedly and head over heels in love. 

This was my university life summed up into a few sentences. Of course, a hell of a lot more happened. For example i near enough pickled my liver and managed to acheive a first class degree, but that aside, I feel like university was one of the most important times of my life. 

And now, the chapter is closing, and the newest part of the story of Harry Casella is just about to begin. 

Speak to most students fresh out of university about life after all night benders and hungover lectures. They kind of go into what I like to call "ostrich mode". Burying their head firmly in the sand as if the cold hard slap of reality isn't going to place itself firmly upon their behind and pull their head abruptly out of the sand to face it. 

But not me, I was ready for the spanking. Infact I was so prepared that I almost enjoyed it. I was ready to leave uni. Simply because, I always knew that if my dream was meant to be, it was entirely up to me. The world is your oyster but you have to damn well put in the fishing work to get the pearl. 

So before my comfortable little life of take-aways and double-vodka-soda-water and lime dreams had finished, I got my arse off of facebook and auditioned for The Urdang Academy

The Urdang Academy. A place that I set my sights on.
 "I will get there you know. Somehow I will go there for whatever period of time fate deals me, I will go there" This was a line I said to my boyfriend in between the late night crying sessions of self doubt.
 Audition day came. 
I was a bundle of nerves. 
But I had two of the most important people in my life there, texting me all sorts of encouragement throughout the day.

 "Don't do this just for yourself Harry. Do it for them. Make them fucking proud

A few weeks passed. 
Lack of sleep. 
Nerves all over the place. 
The phone rings.
 "Harry your letter has arrived" 
"Open it"
 "'re going to urdang!!" 

This is the story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down. 

And now, I am here, to dance sing and act my arse off as I journey into the wide world of the performing arts industry. 

The completely terrifying, uncertain, exciting, nerve-wracking, heart-wrenching world of the performing arts.

 And do you know what, I'm ready. I am the author of my life and I refuse to let this story end until I have written the ending I want.

- Harry