Here are the two things I love most about college breaks: enjoying a home cooked meal (as opposed to grabbing gross dining hall takeout) and hittin' the floor at my local dance studio to rock out to Ne-Yo's latest song. For all you fellow college-goers, I know you'll agree there’s nothing better than stopping by the original dance place that taught you to love leaping, jumping and grooving for an enjoyable, nostalgic-filled dance class.
After studying abroad in Italy and dancing in a foreign studio (and in a foreign language!), I waltzed into dance class at my Westchester studio, ready to feel in my element. There’s something so great about going back to a place you know. You’re familiar with the teachers, the dance styles, the classroom etiquette…I can totally take my own water break!
But after being in Italy’s intimidating environment, I felt almost too comfortable in my studio. Looking to once again put myself in a slightly more challenging dance situation, I headed to the streets of NYC with our DS Assistant Fashion Editor Lauren Levinson (fun fact: Lev and I have been dancing together since our high school dance team!) Last summer we hit up Broadway Dance Center for a rockin' hip hop class, where I found it humbling to know that I can't necessarily "pop n' lock" like the best of them. But this summer we ventured off to the Upper West Side to Steps on Broadway. To anyone who has never taken dance in the city, here’s a piece of advice. There’s a bit of a discrepancy with definition of the dance levels in the city. Okay, fine a HUGE difference. "Beginner's Class" in the city, for example, is by no means for a true beginner. In your local dance studio a beginner's class may have been something you took back in the days while you were still sporting a pink tutu. But in NYC classes you ought to have years of dance training behind you to keep up with all the dancers who use these dance classes as jumpstarts for their careers. (The people who come in decked out in the coolest dance gear, just waiting to be noticed).
Well I will say Lev and I held our own. It was cool to be around all kinds of dancers and people from all over the country. It was really cool to pick up on a different kind of style than I am used to—more of a funk, street hip-hop. But the coolest part was to see that we were still able to shine in our own ways in the bigger, badder NYC class.
It may be a good idea to exercise a degree of modesty your first time in a NYC studio and opt for the beginner's class, like we did, just to get a feel for the class (even though a great dancer like yourself might cringe at the word beginner). Yet after that first class, when you see that you can hold your own, go out there and nail the Advanced Beginner or even the Intermediate class! Because if I have learned anything while in Florence, true dance is one that challenges you and pushes you harder than you ever thought possible. And, hey if you are having a lot of trouble, at least your class will be in English!
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.