From Competitions to Campus: How 4 Comp Stars Made the Leap
Considering a dance degree to build on your competition experiences? DS caught up with comp-circuit stars who chose higher ed to learn the advantages of transitioning from comp kid to college kid.
Ability to Pick Up New Genres
"Because I'd been exposed to so many different genres—hip hop, theater, contemporary, and ballet—I was able to pick up new styles quickly in college, and movement came more naturally to me." —Mattie Love, 2010 NYCDA National Teen Female Outstanding Dancer and Marymount Manhattan College class of 2016
"All of us from studio backgrounds have broad stylistic experiences, and versatility is important in college because it opens doors. You don't want to have a door closed because you never dabbled in one particular style." —Jake Tribus, 24 Seven Dance Convention's 2013 National Teen Male Non-Stop Dancer and University of Southern California Glorya Kaufman School of Dance class of 2020
Jake Tribus (photo by Jennifer Robertson, courtesy USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance)
Being Prepared for Auditions and Accepting Their Outcomes
"When you're a competition dancer, you're auditioning all the time. I always felt comfortable auditioning in college: I pick up detailed choreography quickly because I grew up doing that on the competition and convention circuit." —ML
Managing a Packed Schedule and Networking Effectively
"College is like a convention weekend all the time! You have to take care of your body and pace yourself so you're getting the most out of classes but not killing yourself. I was prepared to go into each college class with a new perspective because of conventions, where I changed my mindset really quickly from one class to the next." —Sarah Pippin, 2015 NYCDA National Senior Female Outstanding Dancer and Juilliard class of 2020"
Sarah Pippin performing in "Juiliard New Dances: Edition 2016" (photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy Sarah Pippin)
Conventions prepared me for contact With a variety of people. I was able to immerse myself in different communities across the nation. It's very similar to a college schedule: long days, working hard in every single class. You're meeting people every day and making connections that'll last a lifetime." —Alyssa Allen, 2014 Senior Female Best Dancer at The Dance Awards and USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance class of 2019
Alyssa Allen (photo by Rose Eichenbaum, courtesy USC Kaufman)
Learning New Material Fast and Showcasing Your Work Ethic
"I'm used to 45-minute classes where the teacher teaches a crazy-long combo. The convention setting taught me to pick things up fast, which then helped me in college because I could move on quickly from learning the combination to focusing on technical elements." —SP
"At my studio, we knew everyone's parts: In case something happened, someone could substitute during a performance. I've found in college, people want to work with me because I know how to dance in an ensemble—I know how to be clean and how
to blend because of those competition experiences."—ML
A version of this story appeared in the October 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "From Comps to Campus."
Much of Janelle Ginestra's career has been about helping others shine. She's dedicated herself to supporting and cheerleading her partner, WilldaBeast Adams; the emerging talents in their dance company, ImmaBEAST; and the countless dancers she inspires at master classes and conventions. Her YouTube channel has become a launching pad for young talents like "Fraternal Twins" Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala, thanks to viral videos featuring Ginestra's creative vision.
But Ginestra's a skyrocketing success in her own right—an in-demand choreographer, a social media influencer, and a dance entrepreneur, building a legacy one eight-count at a time. It's time for her turn in the spotlight. And she's more than ready. "I want to be a legend in whatever I do," she says. We'd argue that she already is.
If you've ever seen a Janelle Ginestra class video, you know how lit her combos are. What you don't see in those clips is how devoted Ginestra is to her students. We went behind the scenes at one of her sold-out IMMA SPACE classes to see Ginestra in her element, mentoring some of L.A.'s most talented dancers. It was an inspiration feedback loop.
All photos by Joe Toreno.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
I love ballet, and I've been told that I have a lot of potential. I can see myself dancing professionally one day. But I'm also working toward my black belt in karate—and I'm passionate about that, too. How can I keep up my technique while also making time for the other things I love? Is that even possible?
What do you get when you combine a Beyoncé anthem, fierce girls from all over the world, and choreography by legends like Ellenore Scott and Lamar Lee? You get the epic music video below. The viral video features little girls who live everywhere from Tanzania to Washington D.C. dancing and lip-syncing to Queen Bey's song "Freedom," and the result is electrifying. These littles can dance—and they bring a determination and enthusiasm to their movement that's truly inspiring.