The Altra IQ Dance – Part 2 – Making Cuts

I’m learning an Altra treadmill dance for Outdoor Retailer! On day 1, we met our choreographer and had our first taste of being runner-dancers. This is Day 2.

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We head into the warehouse/set just as we did on Monday and begin practice. The day starts with a pow-wow about how everyone did awesome yesterday, and that there will probably be some changes; nothing personal, just making some modifications to make the client happy and put on the best performance. Hmm… ok?

We work the entire day in costume (Altra’s new line of running apparel, available Spring ’16). The routine needs to be tweaked some more based on feedback from the day before. We spend a bunch more time sitting while Jason and the dancers trial and error to see what works best (no need teaching if it’ll change). Meanwhile, some very good looking people start showing up to the set. They’re fitness models. We’re totally intimidated. {They turn out to be SUPER nice and sweet.}

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Same scene as yesterday, it didn’t change much.. and, oh hey, Rivers. You are totally dominating at Trans-Rockies right now!

Practice continues on, and of the 7 runners that were to be integrated with the dancers during the routine, by the beginning of day two, there were 6. Now. I have a huge respect for the dancers and anyone in the entertainment/advertising business. As “the talent,” you’re reasonably replaceable… I really hated discovering this fact, because it would be sunshine and rainbows for everyone if I had my way. It HAS to be stressful worrying about constantly marketing yourself to make sure you are making a decent living. On top of that, it’s all about the right look, the right height, the right skills, and the right whatever. Rejection is hard no matter who you are – especially when it’s something beyond your control (for me, like how short I am!). These guys are likely used to hearing no all the time. I’m used to someone throwing down a challenge, trying my best, and making it happen; in this type of business, it often doesn’t work like that. This peek into this world is fascinating, stressful, and SO VERY different than anything I’ve ever known. I’d need a space shuttle to get back to my comfort zone at this point. At the same time, I’m proud that I’m trying my best and doing this!

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Trial & Error while developing the dance

As new people arrive on set, we slowly realize that we’re getting replaced. Soon, there are 4 runners and the rest dancers/models/actors in the show. By the middle of the day, just 4 of us runners. Practice continues, and I’m still making all sorts of mistakes and trying desperately to learn my part. Later, the CEO shows up to watch and then provide his feedback. He wants to see the stroller wheels turning. More activity! More tricks! Make it more interesting!

I stand on my treadmill as we’re practicing while the rest of the gang sits patiently, chatting amongst themselves. They tell us to stop our routine. The producers/directors/choreographer/decision-makers sit together chatting inaudibly and we wait. When they point at me, Ben and Damian whisper to each other, “Well, guess Steph’s cut.” Brian Beckstead gets up from his chair, walks over to my co-dancers, and says 12 words that ultimately made my day: “We need to give you a crash course on good running form.” For the FIRST time in the past 48 hours, I felt I was good at something – running form!

Here’s how one of the practice runs went — I can’t focus on smiling or looking like I’m having fun because I’m SO focused on each count of 8.

The routine changes about twice more since day 1. At one point, I’m shown the new sequence at full speed, then asked if I got it. I definitely didn’t. :-P Jason, Krissy, and Chenelle are incredibly patient when I have NO IDEA what I’m doing! (They might be picking this up quickly because, well… America’s Got Talent) The girls are more than willing to practice with me (running in place).

Just as things as starting to wind down, they start to mention that “some people who are in the show are going to need spray tans.” Yes, it’s true. BEN HAD TO GET A SPRAY TAN. That. Actually. Happened.

By the end of the day, I have the routine down – not perfectly – but well enough. Yep,it’s still fun! We are told to be at the Altra booth at 6:30am the next morning on Day 3 to practice on the real stage which we have not yet seen – one with real stairs, and a very real 6-foot drop off the front. I didn’t know it then, but doing it even not-so-well on a flat floor with a tape “stage” was actually the easy part.

>>> To Day 3! >>>

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