Dancer to Dancer
Larsen Thompson showing off her dance (left) and modeling (right) skills (left photo by Jayme Thornton; right by Felipe Espinal, courtesy Thompson)

Before dance phenom Larsen Thompson booked her first modeling job, she'd never even considered modeling. "I was working on a commercial as a lead dancer, and a woman approached me to ask me to model for a print campaign," Thompson remembers. "At first I didn't think much of it, but then I realized I could incorporate my love of movement into my modeling." After she made that connection, Thompson's modeling career took off.

These days, a lot of young dancers are feeling the urge to branch out into dance-adjacent fields like singing, acting, modeling, and designing. In fact, especially in the commercial world, agents and casting directors increasingly expect that dancers will have the chops to book jobs as actors and models. But how can you explore non-dance passions while maintaining your technique? We spoke with Thompson and three other multitalented dancers to hear their advice on navigating the changing demands of the entertainment industry.

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Dancer to Dancer
The School at Jacob's Pillow's contemporary program auditions (photo by Karli Cadel, courtesy Jacob's Pillow)

Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.

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Dancer to Dancer
Sarah Stanley (Paula Court, courtesy Sarah Stanley)

Navigating college can be tough, especially when you're balancing an intense dance schedule with academic classes and jobs—and trying to make new friends! About to begin your college adventure? We talked to these recent graduates about what they wish they'd known before starting college.

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How To
(Varsity)

You head to your first dance team practice, ready to nail your fouettés and switch-leaps—only to be asked to demonstrate your headsprings and rubberbands. Yikes! You're embarrassed that you're behind the acrobatic abilities of the older girls, and scared to ask for help.

Just as pirouettes and leaps require diligent practice, acro tricks need weeks, or even months, before you get the hang of them. We spoke with three college dance team coaches to find out what dancers can do to master these critical skills.

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Health & Body

It's tricky to figure out how to relate to a strict dance teacher. Not every teacher and student will jibe in the classroom, and students hoping to make it as professional dancers need to develop thick skins to be able to deal with demanding directors and choreographers later on. But instructors who target or ignore you inappropriately can be detrimental to your training—and your emotional well-being. "I'm so tense when I'm with a teacher who's intimidating," says Allison Forderkonz, a dancer in Liverpool, NY. "I spend the whole class worrying that I'll disappoint them and get yelled at." How can you cope with these awkward—and sometimes worse than awkward—situations? We asked experts, and dancers who've been there, for advice.

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How To

When you're boxed into a certain category it can feel negative. But focus on the positives: Each category comes with its own list of strengths. Here are the things you're nailing if you're consistently cast as these types.

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How To
Kent State University students performing "Footloose" (photo by Bob Christy, courtesy Kent State)

“As a teenager, I auditioned for Spring Awakening, only to realize it was a lot of blonde girls," says Skyler Volpe, a performer with brown, curly hair. This experience taught Volpe to research characters that would best fit not only her voice but also her look—such as her current role as Mimi in the Rent National Tour.

Not fitting certain character types, especially those based on looks or physicality, might feel limiting. But understanding your type makes you a smarter auditionee and helps you pinpoint which natural skills you should continue to home in on.

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Dancer to Dancer
Jessica Fay's Ladies of the USO at Oklahoma City University (Katy Rush, courtesy Oklahoma City University)

With a growing emphasis on specialized training, many colleges are offering concentrated degrees within the overall dance major, focused on preparing dancers for very specific aspects of the industry—from ballet to ballroom to commercial. DS rounded up some of the hottest programs with hyper-focused degree tracks.

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