02 Apr Famous 5 ?’s – Starring Chip Abbott
After many years of performing, we have encountered numerous stories of friends and colleagues of their journey’s on how they arrived at the current destination of their careers. Whether they are a performer, choreographer, director, agent, manager or all the above. Through this blog you will get some insight of their personal adventures. We created our “Famous 5 questions” to show you that everyone started with their own map. Through their journey of self discovery, persistence and at times dumb luck, shows that sometimes when you let go of what you think the outcome would be, is when the most magical things happen.
Our newest blog series kicks off with the super talented and gracious Chip Abbott! We give you his story, his journey and answers to our Famous 5 ?’s!
I grew up just outside of Lake Tahoe Nevada and started dancing at age 10. After receiving a degree in dance from Oklahoma City University, I first moved to Chicago to pursue a career in concert dance. After learning that concert dance was not as fulfilling as I hoped I moved to NYC at the age of 24. It took a long time but I’ve been lucky enough to perform on broadway in On the Town as well as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I also performed at Radio City in the Christmas Spectacular, The Today Show, The Tony Awards, and more. As a choreographer I served as assistant choreographer to Joshua Bergasse on several projects including the broadway production of On the Town. For more info and a detailed bio, check out www.chipabbott.com
1. After years of being a performer what are you still learning and taking away from auditions?
The industry is ever-evolving and there are micro changes that add up over time. I find I am always learning what is most effective in the room at any given time based on trends as well as traditions. I also find myself constantly learning the balance of energy input vs output in the room. Pacing is everything. Appearing professional without seeming too nervous and anxious is key. A person’s energy changes daily for me I know I’m constantly trying to gauge where my energy is before every audition. I try to use that information to help me succeed.
2- What is something you would go back and tell your younger self about this business?
It is not my job to cast the project (unless it is.) As actors we are not in charge, nor do we have control over who books a show and who does not. Learn from who is getting hired, but don’t dig too deep, as the time will come when it’s your turn to be cast. Leave your baggage at the door and don’t take it with you when you leave an audition. The same goes for external validators when walking into an audition. Leave them and focus.
3- Name any memorable moments (could be funny, embarrassing etc.) that maybe landed you the job or helped you learn and grow as a performer?
When Barrington Stage Company was casting On the Town, I completely blanked during the dance audition, and forgot the combination. It was quite possibly one of the worst moments of forgetfulness that I had ever had at an audition. I went with the flow and made something up on the spot that felt somewhat musical and resembled the style of the show. Afterward the choreographer (Joshua Bergasse) made a joke about my moment of memory loss. I left thinking I wouldn’t return, but ended up booking the show as the dance captain. The show was later picked up to go to Broadway and I went with it. Being that I was dance captain of the regional production, I ended up teaching the show to the broadway cast and becoming assistant choreographer on broadway. This was my broadway debut.
That moment was pivotal to my career. It’s not always about if a performance is correct or perfect. As artists who perform live, something is bound to go wrong. It’s not about the mistakes, but rather how one handles them.
4- What is your biggest Pet Peeve at an Audition or what is the most common mistake that you see at Auditions?
I’ve had a fair amount of time on the other side of the table and while I consider myself to be very pro actor, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have some pet peeves. I don’t have many, because I try to focus on the work and picking the best people for the job.
I am bothered when people ask a lot of questions during a dance call without first taking the time to watch and fully absorb the information. Take a breath and a beat and you will be surprised how much you can learn by watching the choreographer and not moving your body. Feeling out an important time for questions is important. If you ask too many I will assume you are needy and anxious. I want to work with problem solvers and people who won’t rely on me to spoon feed them every piece of information in a show. It’s usually a fast process and no one has time for needy performers.
Another pet peeve is when I can feel the nerves. Learning how to process and re-channel energy is a big element in performing. Try to remember that it’s not that deep and nerves will get in your way of being able to really go for it and dance full out. The only thoughts that matter are your own. Don’t worry about anyone else including the people behind the table. Be you and celebrate, but most importantly dance FULL OUT!
5- What is the number 1 tip you can give to anyone auditioning?
Find out what makes you unique and interesting rather than what you think you want to make you interesting and unique. These are realities that are out of our control. Use them as tools toward your own success.