Dancer to Dancer
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If you want to go far with dance after college, head to your university's career services office early and often. "We try to see all first-years during their first semester," says Faith McClellan, director of Field Work Term and career development at Bennington College in Bennington, VT. "That's when you should ask the big questions: What you love about dance, what you want to know about the field of dance, where you want to fit in the broader dance world, and how you want experiences like internships or intensives to help you explore those questions." Whether you're set on going pro right after graduation or just want your postgrad work to be somehow connected to dance, on-campus career counseling can prep you to do amazing things with your dance degree.

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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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