Senior dance performance and choreography major Jay Marion will star in “The Audition,” on March 30 at 7 and 8 p.m. The program is a “devised autobiographical dance theatre work” funded by an Eagles’ SPUR grant from the USM Center for Undergraduate Research.

Marion, who graduated from the Mississippi School of the Arts with an emphasis in dance, answered some questions about his project.

How did your background affect this project, and how did it come to be?
This project is something I’ve been wanting to do since I was in high school. I’ve always dreamed of doing my own show and showcasing my talent to the people. I’m very ambitious. I’ve been super involved on campus and in my major. It’s led me to pursue challenging obstacles. I applied for the Eagle SPUR through the USM undergraduate center for research and wrote a 2,000 word proposal on why my project is important and beneficial to my theatrical community. I put my passion and soul into that proposal for a year-and-a-half, and it was finally accepted amongst other really innovative projects.

Did you choreograph it yourself? Tell me more about the process.
It’s not a dance show. Shocker, I know. I’m a performer of many hats. I grew up in musical theatre and trained really extensively in voice, acting and dancing. This [is] a devised dance theatre project, meaning I derived a script from my autobiographical experiences, staged the blocking, designed the lights, designed the sound [and] hired 14 crew members to do specific parts. It took me six months to perfect it and craft it into a production that has a beginning, middle and end – all based on my life. I think that’s what gets people. They associate my face with dance, but this isn’t just a dance show. It’s an everything show for everyone.

In what ways?
[It’s] relatable to everything in that we all go through that period of finding who we are, losing a loved one, being bullied … it just so happens that I’m discovering who I am as a performer through an audition.

Interesting. So there’s a story line throughout?
Yes. It’s a story line. It’s myself basically coming to terms with who I am, facing serious situations I’ve dealt with and learning that you don’t have to wear a facade for people all the time. You can be open and honest with yourself while being yourself. It’s for mature audiences because I talk about strong content that may not be for audience members who aren’t well aware of the world that’s around us or [who may not be] comfortable with slang language and comments that I’ll be [making.] The material in the show [is] strong but with a purpose. I wanted people to know that you don’t have to always cover up bad things that have happened. I want people to see that because of those things, I’ve turned into a stronger, better person.

What do you hope they’ll take away from watching your performance?
Everyone is different and experiences many different things. One thing I hope that [they] take away [is] some form of entertainment. As a creator and performer, I want to gain experience and feedback of others. I want people to know that you can love yourself and be who you are without trying to get people to see someone different. This is my first try at doing something like this, so if I touch just one person out of the two performances then I’m happy.


There will be a “Q&A session for the curious” following the performance, during which Marion will answer questions regarding his performance and the process of creating his project.

Marion emphasizes the show is for a mature audience