Five Things I Learned While Working at Dance Spirit
DS editor in chief Alison Feller (far left) and me at "So You Think You Can Dance" auditions in NYC.
Yesterday was my last day as a Dance Spirit editor. I'm so sad to be leaving my dream job, but I'm thrilled to welcome a darling baby ballerina into the world. So naturally, I've been thinking a lot about my time at DS.
When I began my DS internship four and a half years ago, I never could've imagined how much I would fall in love with dance and my favorite dance publication. At the time, I thought I knew a lot about dance—I'd grown up training in most styles and competing at competitions like New York City Dance Alliance, JUMP, Starpower, etc. Plus, I had a National Dance Alliance championship ring on my finger from my college dance team days.
Boy, was I wrong.
After four years of working at DS and attending countless amazing dance events in NYC and around the country (New York City Ballet at least 5 times a season—this job definitely has its perks!), I still don't know everything about dance (really, who does?). But, my eyes have been opened to styles and companies I never even dreamed of.
Without further ado, five things I learned at Dance Spirit:
1. If you have a dream job, go for it! My teenage self never would've dreamed that in 10 years I'd be living in NYC and writing for the magazine I obsessed over every month.
2. Don't be afraid to admit you don't know who a dancer/choreographer/producer is. This may be the best piece of professional advice DS editor in chief Alison Feller ever gave me. The dance world is extensive and there are always emerging choreographers and performers. If you pretend to know someone you actually know nothing about, chances are you'll end up looking ridiculous. Just say: "I'm not familiar—tell me about him/her." You'll learn so much!
3. If you think you're not a "modern" person, think again. You probably just haven't seen your kind of modern performance yet. The first time I saw KEIGWIN + COMPANY perform Megalopolis I flipped out I loved it so much. I couldn't wipe the goofy grin off my face for hours.
4. Dance can always be a part of your life, even if you stop performing. It's a strange transition to go from the stage to the audience, but it's also wonderful. Figuring out who your favorite ballerinas/tappers/Broadway performers are is so much fun! Go to dance events, watch dance videos and, of course, keep reading Dance Spirit!
5. No one's ever too old to love Dance Spirit. Technically DS is a teen magazine, but I know I'll continue to read it cover to cover for the rest of my life. It's such a fun, exciting tool to help you grow as a dancer and stay involved in the dance community.
Can you tell I love DS? Thank you for being such loyal readers!
What's more daunting than getting into your dream college dance program? Figuring out how you'll cover the costs of tuition, room and board, incidental expenses and more. Here's the good news: The right scholarship(s) can bring your dream school well within reach.
Look Around, Look Around
Scholarship applications are due between the fall of senior year and graduation time, so familiarize yourself with funding opportunities during the spring of junior year. And there are a lot of opportunities out there, says Kate Walker, chair of dance at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX. "A lot of school guidance counselors now have software that automatically matches you with scholarships," she says.
Seek out scholarships on your own, too. According to Walker, "a lot of corporations are required to have some community engagement, including offering scholarships, so research corporations in your community." Your parents' employers might offer assistance too, says Doug Long, an academic and college counselor at Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, MI. "They might have scholarships you can apply for just because your parent works there."
Other sources of grant money you won't have to pay back (as you would a loan)? The YoungArts Foundation; competitions/conventions, like New York City Dance Alliance; and the university or dance department you're applying to. Even some scholarships aimed at athletes are open to dancers!
A winning scholarship application involves a fair amount of paperwork, especially if the organization requires you to show financial need. In addition, certain scholarships ask for the College Board's CSS/Financial Aid Profile, which gives the awarding organization a more complete picture of your family finances.
Other ingredients of a successful scholarship application include recommendation letters, a dance and/or academic resumé and an essay or statement of purpose. Treat these components just like college applications: Have multiple trusted adults proofread your materials, and ask for recommendation letters or transcripts long before deadlines.
A note for non-dance scholarships: Including objective measures of achievement can only help you. "List national recognitions, like YoungArts or other competitions," says Long. "That shows the scholarship committees that people at high levels have acknowledged you as an artist of quality." And don't forget who your audience is. "Especially in writing samples, make sure you paint a vivid picture for your reader," Walker says. "Don't assume they know about all the things—like barre every day—that we as dancers take for granted."
No award amount is too small to be worth your time and effort. As Walker says, "Don't pooh-pooh a couple hundred dollars in award money, because any scholarship is funding that you didn't have yesterday."
A version of this story appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "All Aboard the Scholar-ship."
Every ballet dancer knows the time, sweat, and occasional tears the art form demands. But many non-dancers are clueless about just how much work a ballet dancer puts into perfecting his or her dancing. So when the mainstream crowd recognizes our crazy work ethic, we'll accept the round of applause any way it comes—even if it comes via four men in tutus. Yep, we're talking about "The Try Guys Try Ballet" video.
Remember that fabulous old-school clip of dancers tapping in pointe shoes that Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo brought to our attention back in March? As we mentioned then, toe-tap dancing was actually super popular back in the 1920s and 30s—which means there are more videos where that one came from. And because #ToeTapTuesday has a nice ring to it, we thought we'd take this opportunity to introduce you to Dick and Edith Barstow, a toe-tapping brother and sister duo from that era who are nothing short of incredible:
Guess who's back? Back again? The Academy's back! Tell a friend.
After one day at The Academy, the All Stars have successfully taken the Top 100 down to 62. But their work is just getting started: Now they need to keep narrowing the field to a Top 10, ultimately deciding who each will partner with during the live shows.
We've said it before and we'll say it again: New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns is some SERIOUS #goals. Her strength and power onstage borders on superhuman. But what's extra magical about Mearns is that she really puts in the fitness and cross-training work outside of the rehearsal studio. And she's overcome her fair share of injuries. Which is why she was the perfect source for Vogue's latest ballet fitness story.