Dancer to Dancer
(Courtesy ABC)

In the dance industry, dancers don't always have a say in what they wear on their bodies. This can get tricky if you're asked to wear something that compromises your own personal values. So what should you do if you find yourself in this sticky situation? We sat down for a Q&A with "Dancing with the Stars" alumn Ashly Costa to answer that very question. Here's what she had to say about the options dancers have surrounding questionable costumes.

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Dancer to Dancer
Students at Pomona College learn how ethnic groups use dances, like the Hawaiian hula, to construct identities. (via Thinkstock)

If you're thinking about majoring in dance at a liberal arts school, you're probably already excited about the technique and repertory classes on offer. But what about the academic classes that you'll need to complete your major?

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The path to dance success isn’t always a straight line. We asked three pros to reflect on their careers—including the disappointments, unexpected opportunities and inspiring moments of perseverance.

Daniel “Cloud” Campos

Currently a commercial performer, choreographer and director

(Photo by Joe Toreno)

Performing at Universal Studios Florida

Campos began breaking at a very young age, but he didn’t join a crew until he moved to Tampa, FL, at age 12. “I went to a roller rink, and there they were—the Skill Methodz! I was so impressed,” he says. “We started going to competitions and traveling around the world, making a name for ourselves.” Eventually the Skill Methodz landed

a job at Universal Studios Florida in a show called Street Breaks.

Touring with Madonna

On a visit to NYC, Campos heard about a Madonna tour audition. “I didn’t have an agent, but I crashed the audition anyway,” he says. He pushed through the choreography portion—an experience he’d never had—to get to the freestyle section of the audition. “I knew if they could see my breaking, I’d have a good chance of making it.” He did make it, and ended up working on two of Madonna’s tours.

The Commercial Life

After his Madonna audition, Campos got an agent in L.A. and started building his resumé. He landed gigs with a variety of directors and performers, including Jon M. Chu, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez. Campos quickly discovered just how intense the commercial dance world could be. “The audition process is intimidating when people have expectations of you,” he says.

Discovering His Passion for Directing

While dancing in music videos and films, Campos realized he had his own ideas about how to capture movement on camera. He shot his first short dance film, The Paperboy, while

he was working at Universal Studios, and posted it on YouTube. “It ended up getting a lot of attention,” he says. “I know I can’t dance forever, and I realized this was another creative path to take.”

Up Next

Campos’ newest dance short, Today’s the Day, is about facing your fears and walking into the unknown. “I enjoy telling stories with my body,” he says. “I want to bring back the golden days of dance films.” He’s looking forward to more dance-inspired directing projects.

 

Drew Jacoby

Currently a member of Nederlands Dans Theater (and a new mom!)

(Photo by Marty Sohl)

Dancing with LINES Ballet

After graduating from the Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Jacoby immediately accepted a job with the contemporary company Alonzo King LINES Ballet, in San Francisco. “I had hoped to join PNB, but they didn’t want to take the risk of hiring me because I was so tall,” says the 5' 11" dancer. “LINES was a different path than I had imagined.”

Auditions Galore

Though she enjoyed working with LINES, Jacoby still dreamed of a super-classical ballet job. She continued to attend auditions while working with the company. “I met so many people through auditions,” Jacoby says. “In the end, the conventional ballet path didn’t work out for me. But those endless auditions were very enriching. I figured out there’s more than one way to make it in the ballet world.”

Freelancing in NYC

After a few years with LINES, Jacoby decided to strike out on her own in NYC. “I created a DVD and website, got a commercial agent, started auditioning for movies and Broadway shows and took classes at Steps on Broadway every day,” she says. “I landed a gig with choreographer Lar Lubovitch, and from there, it just snowballed.”

Jacoby & Pronk

One of Jacoby’s freelance jobs was touring with Complexions Contemporary Ballet as a guest artist, and that’s where she met dancer Rubinald Pronk. They began to perform together as Jacoby & Pronk, building a name for themselves by collaborating with choreographers such as Christopher Wheeldon and performing at festivals like Jacob’s Pillow.

Joining Nederlands Dans Theater

While Jacoby was collaborating with Pronk, Paul Lightfoot and Sol Léon, then resident choreographers with Nederlands Dance Theater, brought up the idea of Jacoby joining NDT. But at that point, “I was still excited by making my own path,” Jacoby says. Two years later, after Lightfoot was made artistic director of NDT, he offered Jacoby a contract—and she was ready to accept it. “One of the reasons I stopped freelancing was fatigue,” Jacoby explains. “We were performing four pieces a night, I was doing all of the administrative work and we were traveling nine months of the year. I was trying to get funding, which was way over my head. So I was ready for company life again.”

Up Next

Jacoby has now danced with NDT for three seasons. She’s able to maintain her professional connections by teaching, producing galas and performing at festivals. These days, she’s enjoying spending time with her new baby.

 

Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie

Currently a teacher at Broadway Dance Center and founder of Ephrat Asherie Dance

(Photo by Matthew Murphy)

Discovering Her Passion

Asherie began studying ballet at age 10 and Graham-based modern dance at 14. She loved hip-hop music, but “it was the ’90s, so hip-hop classes weren’t available at most dance studios,” she says. She went on to study at Barnard College, majoring in Italian. Halfway through her degree, she saw Rennie  Harris’ groundbreaking hip-hop work, Rome and Jewels, which gave her a new perspective on dance. “It completely blew me away,” she says.

Adventures in Italy

Asherie was studying abroad in Italy when opportunity struck. “I was looking for an apartment, and I accidentally walked into a b-boy gym,” she says. “It just fell into my lap!” She started breaking, and found that it gave her the voice she’d been looking for. “I didn’t have to look in the mirror at my body—it was freeing to just be connected to the music and the movement.”

Underground Mentoring

Back in NYC, Asherie discovered the city’s underground breaking scene. “You had to

prove yourself there,” she says. “The guys always thought I was someone’s girlfriend or a groupie.” One dancer in particular, Richard Santiago (aka Break Easy), took her under his wing. “He would teach me mini classes, spin records, show old breaking footage and share newspaper clippings,” Asherie says. “It was such a nurturing approach to my education.”

Committing to Dance

Life after college was challenging. Asherie waited tables, worked as an Italian tutor, wrote grants and danced at night. “I landed a breaking gig, and called in to work well in advance to get someone to cover my waitressing shift,” she remembers. “But my boss ignored the request, and I was fired.” It was a crucial moment: Asherie had also just landed her first jobs teaching dance, at Peridance Capezio Center and Broadway Dance Center. “I decided it was time to commit myself entirely to my practice, and I got an agent.”

Forming Her Own Company

Asherie began to develop as a choreographer as well as a dancer, and eventually founded Ephrat Asherie Dance. The group earned residencies at New York Live Arts and Jacob’s Pillow, which allowed Asherie to further explore her creative voice. She also kept up a busy teaching schedule. “When I’m fulfilled in my choreography, that makes me a better teacher,” she says.

Bessie Nominations

After Asherie curated a show at Dixon Place on the Lower East Side of NYC, she was commissioned to do a full-evening work for the venue. The result, A Single Ride, was nominated for two Bessie awards—one of NYC’s highest dance honors.

Up Next

Asherie recently finished a residency on Governors Island through the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. She’s also an MFA candidate at the University of Wisconsin—a low-residency program that allows her to continue making work in NYC. This spring, she’ll be touring with Get on the Good Foot, a dance tribute to James Brown.

 

 

Dancer to Dancer
Kathryn Morgon (Jayme Thornton)

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

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How To
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, dancers performing at a choreography show (Jim Coleman, courtesy Five College Dance Department)

College is all about investing in your education, but it's also the perfect time to meet a ton of people. The intense nature of a college dance program means you might have the chance to collaborate with anyone from visiting choreographers to MFA candidates to alumni—and those people can help lay the groundwork for your professional career. Dance Spirit asked two pros how they built lasting professional relationships that started in college.

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Dancer to Dancer
Jayme Thornton

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Kaitlynn Edgar knew she was ready for a pro career. (Lee Gumbs)

It's a question every serious dance student has to ask as she approaches high school graduation: What's next? College, or a company gig? A full-time dance career, or…something else? You can't take this big decision lightly. But how can you know if you're ready to go pro after high school? What about at age 22, with four years of college dance classes under your belt?

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(Clockwise from left: Peshkova/Thinkstock; Fotofermer/Thinkstock; Comstock/Thinkstock)

It’s the City That Never Sleeps, the Concrete Jungle—and a total dance mecca. While there’s no place quite like it, NYC is also overwhelming and expensive, two qualities that can make visiting or moving here pretty intimidating. Check out tips from four pro dancers—Kristine Covillo, Tamisha Guy, Daniel Harder and Kristen Segin—for living like a true New Yorker.

(Clockwise from left: Tamisha Guy in Kyle Abraham's The Watershed, photo by Steven Schreiber, courtesy Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion; Daniel Harder, photo by Richard Calmes, courtesy Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Kristien Covillo in On the Town with Stephen Hanna, photo by Joan Marcus, courtesy On the Town; Kristen Segin in Christopher Wheeldon's Soiree Musicale, photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy New York City Ballet)

Your NYC Experts

Kristine Covillo: A former member of Ballet Hispanico and the Radio City Rockettes, Covillo has also performed on Broadway in West Side Story, Evita and On the Town.

Tamisha Guy: After moving to NYC from Trinidad and Tobago, Guy graduated from SUNY Purchase and performed with the Martha Graham Dance Company. She currently dances with Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion.

Daniel Harder: After graduating from NYC’s Ailey/Fordham BFA program, Harder joined Ailey II in 2009. He was promoted to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater a year later.

Kristen Segin: A New York City Ballet corps member since 2009, Segin moved to NYC in 2005 to study at the School of American Ballet.

Getting Around

1. Download the HopStop app. “It helps you figure out which subways are closest to particular locations,” Harder says. “I tend to use it when I’m going to an unfamiliar area of Brooklyn.”

2. Visit the MTA website (mta.info), Segin advises, to make sure the trains you need are running without delays or service changes.

NYC subway (photo by Starflamedia/Thinkstock)

3. Leave early. It takes Guy roughly 45 minutes to get from her Brooklyn apartment to class in downtown Manhattan, “though I’ll always leave about two hours early,” she says. “The rains are reliable, but it’s good to leave some wiggle room. You never know if there’ll be a delay.”

4. Know where to stand in the station. If it’s crowded, head to either end of the platform. “That’s where the emptiest subway cars will likely be,” Segin says.

5. Be a considerate passenger. Move to the middle of the subway car—away from the doors—and be mindful of your bags. “Dancers always have so much gear,” Covillo says. “If you have a big bag, take it off and keep it at your feet or hold it in your lap. You’ll stand out as a tourist if your stuff is all over the place, hitting other people.”

6. Take a bus to go across town. “When I first moved here, I used to be terrified by the bus system,” Covillo says. “But the crosstown buses stop at every major avenue. Just ask the driver if you’re worried about missing your stop.”

7. Save taxi rides for when you’re in a pinch. Fares start at $2.50 and add up quickly.

8. Set up an Uber account for late-night trips or if you have too many grocery bags to carry on the subway. “You don’t have to exchange money since it’s all done through the app,” Covillo says. “That really came in handy one morning when I grabbed the wrong bag and didn’t have my wallet—or my subway card. Luckily, though, I had my phone, so I hailed an Uber.”

9. Remember that it’s OK to ask for directions. “There’s definitely a misconception that because NYC is so fast-paced, you can’t stop someone and ask for help,” Harder says. “But New Yorkers are very friendly, and I’ve learned to speak up.”

Finding A Place To Stay

10. If you’re staying for a week or less, ask friends if you can couch surf. Not an option? Harder, Covillo and Segin recommend checking out Airbnb for short-term rentals. It tends to be much cheaper than a hotel, and you can view pictures of the space and read reviews beforehand.

11. Do some research before subletting (renting a room from another renter, who may be out of town for a short time). “Subletting is great since you move into a space that’s already furnished,” Guy says. “But try to visit the space, so you know what you’re getting into.” And ask if it’s been cleared with the landlord.

Brownstones in Brooklyn Heights, NYC (photo by StockSnapper/Thinkstock)

12. Check dance-studio bulletin boards for apartment listings. “In the student lounge at The Ailey School, there are always fliers from people looking to sublet their apartments for the summer or even the full year,” Harder says.

13. If you’re moving, watch out for realtor/broker fees, which can often be several times more than a month’s rent. Both Covillo and Segin recommend StreetEasy (streeteasy.com)—not Craigslist, which is full of false advertising—to hunt for apartments. “You can search by location, amenities and number of bedrooms,” Covillo says.

14. Avoid prime real estate areas. Apartments on the Upper West Side (home to Steps on Broadway) and in midtown (home to Broadway Dance Center) tend to have higher rents, which is frustrating since those neighborhoods are major dance hubs. “A lot of artists live in Astoria, Queens, which has an easy commute to midtown,” Covillo says. Segin lives in East Harlem. “It’s definitely an up-and-coming area,” she says. “Lots of NYCB dancers have been moving up here. The rent is reasonable, and there are a ton of restaurants.”

Dancing For Less

15. Find out how much open classes cost before signing up. At some of the major studios, classes can run upwards of $20 a pop. Consider mixing up your training schedule by adding a few classes at smaller studios (like Ballet Arts or The Playground at Gibney Dance Center) that charge less. And if you’re in NYC for the long haul, apply for work-study programs at studios like BDC, Steps or Peridance Capezio Center. “They’re great for dancers new to the city,” Guy says. “You’ll get to know teachers and choreographers, and you’ll meet other dancers, too.”

Kristine Covillo (center) teaching at Broadway Dance Center (photo courtesy Covillo)

16. Purchase class cards. Not only can they save you money per class, they can also help you stick to a budget. “If you buy a class card, you’re setting aside a certain amount of money for classes you can’t spend anywhere else,” Guy says.

17. Make your apartment your gym. Gym memberships and fitness classes can be expensive. “I picked up a few yoga DVDs I can do at home on my own,” Covillo says. “You can also check out qinetic.com. It offers free live-streamed fitness classes, and it has a video archive of past classes, too.”

18. Keep your dance clothes clean—on the cheap. Many buildings don’t have a washer and dryer on the premises, so finding a laundromat in your neighborhood is key. But keep in mind that frequent mini loads of laundry add up. “Hand-wash your tights, leotards and smaller items in the sink,” Guy says. “And if you can, wait until you have huge loads of laundry to go to the laundromat.”

Living on a Budget

19. Cook as much as possible. “Making your own food is always cheaper,” Segin says. “There are lots of healthy, dancer-friendly restaurants near Lincoln Center, but they’re expensive. I pack my lunch as much as I can—and I always throw an extra energy bar, yogurt or sandwich in my bag.”

20. Shop for foods that won’t spoil easily. “Trader Joe’s is great if you’re staying here a short time,” Guy says. “You can stock up on healthy snacks that won’t go bad,” like trail mix or granola bars.

21. Scout for cheap eats. “In college, I’d always look for restaurants with lunch specials,” Harder says. “For example, there was an inexpensive Thai place that gave huge portions I could snack on throughout the day.”

(Brighton and Coney Island Beach at sunset, photo by Demerzel21/Thinkstock)

22. Skip Starbucks. “Go to your neighborhood bodega for your coffee fix,” Covillo says. “There’s one on just about every corner”—and their coffees are frequently $1.

23. Use Yelp. “After a long week of work, I love to pamper myself with a manicure,” Segin says. “There are a ton of nail salons on the Upper West Side, but I always look at a salon’s review and price point on Yelp.”

24. Take advantage of your student ID. “There are so many deals for students,” Segin says. “I go to Fordham University part-time, and I use my ID to get discounts on museum admissions and Broadway or American Ballet Theatre tickets. You can even use a student ID from a summer course.”

25. Explore the city—for the price of a subway fare. “It’s easy to get stuck within a 5- to 10-block radius, but it doesn’t cost a lot to have great adventures all over NYC,” Covillo says. “Each neighborhood has a different flavor, whether you’re in Chinatown, Little Italy or Union Square, all accessible via the subway. There are even beaches right off the subway—like Brighton Beach in Brooklyn—or you can take the Long Island Railroad and go to Long Beach.”

 

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