Performers take their shot at a dream

Cirque Dreams auditions local talent for Baltimore show

September 25, 2010|By Larry Carson, The Baltimore Sun

Poi dancers might not be in great demand outside New Zealand, but Adrian Galvin is hoping the skill he has developed in the ancient Maori hand-strengthening routine will land him a walk-on role at the Cirque Dreams show starting next month in Baltimore.

Galvin, a 22-year-old student at the University of Maryland, College Park, said the fuzzy balls at the end of the short ropes he twirled would ordinarily be on fire. But he imagined that a more authentic presentation might note have been appreciated by the management of the Hunt Valley Town Centre shopping center, where he and nine other performers tried out Saturday for a single spot in "Cirque Dreams Illumination," the new show scheduled to open Oct. 5 at the Hippodrome Theatre.

The local hopefuls included 9-year old Austin Brannan of Churchville, Harford County, who sang a crystal-clear version of "Gary, Indiana" from the show "Music Man," and jazz, hip-hop, interpretive and break dancers. A 16-year-old sang an aria without accompaniment; two girls from Bel Air twirled batons.

As Melissa Gallatin, 11, and Sarah Zoll, 10, worked it onstage, Sarah's mother, Christine, a former twirler herself and the girls' coach, silently performed each step mentally (and a few physically) at the back of the small crowd of spectators.

"I'm happy there's not 100 people. The odds are better," Christine Zoll said.

"Cirque Dreams Illumination" casting director Erik Alden described the show as a combination of European-style acrobatics and Broadway musical. The audition contest was a combination talent search and publcity stunt intended to drum up interest and ticket sales. Alden and a few assistants videotaped the performances; he said he'd make a recommendation to director Neil Goldberg on Monday.

"If you don't hear from us Monday, and Tuesday rolls around, go buy a ticket," he advised the hopefuls waiting patiently in Saturday's hot but breezy weather. Even the winner won't get paid, Alden said, except with the chance to perform and win a few free tickets.

Cast members Victor Dodronov and Paul Culbert provided a taste of the show. Dressed as clownish house painters, they used painter's props to do a complicated balancing act.

Although it wasn't clear exactly what kind of skill might win a spot in the show, hopefuls said they were happy for the exposure and the chance to build their experiences.

Towson University acting student Kaitlyn Huffman hopes to perform professionally; she said her contemporary dance/ballet routine was another chance to show her skills.

"Performing is what I'm looking for, not teaching," said Huffman, 21, of Westminster.

Sixteen-year-old Somaya Reda is into jazz dancing.

"I've been dancing since I was 3," the Odenton youth told Alden after her performance in a sparkling aqua-colored outfit.

"I don't know who they're looking for, but I'm hoping for the best," she said.

Confidence is key to these competitive events, several participants said. Trying out is fun, but being picked would be the best.

Sixteen-year-old Alyssa Wenner sang opera but said she also can handle country music tunes.

"I would love to go into country music," said the Ellicott City youth, who has been singing since age 2.

"Everything she's tried out for has been an incredible experience," said her mother, Stacey Kraines.

Isaiah Stokes, 13, did a spectacular break-dancing routine that he works on at the B-Funk dance studio near his Elkridge home.

"I think I have a pretty good chance," said Isaiah, who waited to get his shot before heading off to play football in a Howard County recreation league game.

Galvin said he hopes to become a professional fire dancer for Cirque shows. He taught himself the ancient steps, though he performed them to modern pop music.

"I figured I'd show up and have fun,' he said, even if he couldn't use real flames. "It's a great way to meet other performers."

Beneath calm demeanors, several of the hopefuls described strong desires to get into show business.

"That would be my dream come true," said Amy Wuyscik, 20, another Towson University dancer. "I'm just going to see where it takes me."

larry.carson@baltsun.com

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