Darius Hickman and Magda Fialek performing on "So You Think You Can Dance" (Adam Rose/FOX)
With every audition comes its fair share of nerves. The stakes are high, and dancers strive for perfection. But even pros with super-successful careers make mistakes. These five dancers tell us all about their biggest audition mishaps—and how they pushed through.
Chloe Misseldine has every reason to be nervous as she and her partner run through the challenging wedding pas de deux from Don Quixote. Their performance is just days away and the two American Ballet Theatre Studio Company dancers have only had a week to prepare. Add to that the fact that ABT principal Gillian Murphy, one of the world's most famous ballerinas, is at the front of the studio taking notes.
Kylie Shea spent four years dancing with Donald Byrd's Spectrum Dance Theater before venturing out on her own. (@underground_nyc, courtesy Shea)
More and more frequently, dancers are embracing their entrepreneurial spirit and eschewing the stability of a company paycheck for the creative freedom of freelance life. Some have been in full-time companies—or could be—but many are choosing to be their own bosses instead. Of course, freelancing is not without its challenges. Dancers are at greater risk for burnout, face unpredictable scheduling, and can struggle with self-advocacy. But as these three successful freelancers show, forging your own path can be extremely rewarding.
Abbey Marrison (far left) performing in Lauren Lovette's Le Jeune in American Ballet Theatre's fall gala (Marty Sohl, courtesy ABT)
So many ballet greats start out as apprentices before joining the main company's corps de ballet. But what do the ins and outs of an apprenticeship actually look like? We had American Ballet Theatre apprentice Abbey Marrison keep a diary last fall during the week of the company's gala performance. In the gala, Marrison performed in Lauren Lovette'sLe Jeune. A Markham, ON, Canada native, Marrison began her ballet training at Karpov Ballet Academy, and later placed as a finalist at the 2016 Youth America Grand Prix. She began training at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in 2016, joined the ABT Studio Company a year later, and was made an apprentice in 2018. Here's what her job is like. —Courtney Bowers
Nick Young has been making music with his feet his whole life. Young grew up at his mother's studio, Young Dance Academy, in Oak Creek, WI, and at competitions like New York City Dance Alliance. He caught his big break with "So You Think You Can Dance," making it to the Top 20 on Season 8. That led to three viral tap videos, teaching gigs at 24 Seven Dance Convention and NYCDA, and two appearances by himself and his company, Rhythmatic, at the Capezio A.C.E. Awards—where they won second runner-up in 2017. Catch his latest full-length work when it hits film festivals later this year, and read on to find out how Young gets inspired to create. —Helen Rolfe
Who among us hasn't daydreamed about finishing college a semester or two ahead of the class? But as tempting as it may be to get started on your dance career ASAP, this isn't a decision to take lightly. So DS had a dance department chair and an alumna who finished ahead of schedule lay out the case for—and against—graduating early.
New York City Ballet soloist Georgina Pazcoguin's vivacious energy and fiery passion infuse her ballet roles, but her effervescent presence also proves perfect for the Great White Way. In 2015 she made her Broadway debut as Ivy Smith in On the Town, and she played the white cat Victoria in the 2016 revival of CATS. An Altoona, PA, native, she started training at age 4 at the Allegheny Ballet Academy. In 2001, she enrolled in the School of American Ballet; in 2002 she became an NYCB apprentice; and one year later she joined as an official corps member. She was promoted to soloist in 2013. Currently, she's performing with the company and can be found curating her brand, The Rogue Ballerina, on her social media channels. —Courtney Bowers
Rachel Kreiling teaching a workshop at New York City Dance Alliance (Evolve Photo, courtesy NYCDA)
When teaching convention classes, many choreographers start combinations mid-song, allowing dancers the freedom to improvise a few eight counts before the piece begins. How do you use those moments to learn and grow as a dancer, even if you're new to the style of dance? DS spoke with convention teachers about the best way to approach improvisation in a class setting.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
I got a big part in my spring recital, but I really, really don't like the guy who'll be partnering me—he's rude and gives me lots of condescending corrections. What can I do to make things less awkward?
With over one thousand Instagram posts showcasing her latest improv practice or snippet of competition choreo, it's safe to say Lucy Vallely is never not creating. But how does she avoid burnout? Here, she shares her key tactics for staying inspired and energized, in and out of the studio.
Dancer Tony Bellissimo on the field at Super Bowl LII (via Instagram)
The Super Bowl is America's most-watched television event. Last year, when the incomparable Justin Timberlake took center field for the halftime show, more than 106 million viewers were watching his every move—and that's not even a record!
What's it like to perform for such an incredibly huge audience? Dancer Tony Bellissimo has plenty of experience with high-pressure dance gigs, having worked with artists including Rihanna, Britney Spears, John Legend, and Chris Brown. But stepping out alongside Timberlake during last year's halftime show was a next-level experience. We talked to Bellissimo about how he scored such a coveted job—and how he handled the pressure.
Hall works with students at Dance Conservatory of Charleston. (courtesy Dance Conservatory of Charleston)
As the name suggests, summer intensives are, well, intense, encouraging you to eat, sleep, and breathe dance for a significant chunk of the summer. But they're not for every dancer—or every summer. Maybe you're not ready to be away from home just yet, or you want to spend your last summer with family before going off to college. Intensives can also be expensive, and not every household has the financial flexibility to cover the high cost of auditions, travel, room and board, and tuition. Whatever your reasons for seeking alternatives, it's important to recognize that, when it comes to summer study, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. "The most important thing is to keep dancing," says Lindy Mandradjieff, owner of the Dance Conservatory of Charleston in South Carolina. "Without the added stress of school, you can improve as much in one summer as you would in an entire school year." Here's how to keep up your training even if you don't plan on attending an intensive.
We caught up with five major competition stars to get the deets on what was on their wish lists this past December—and their responses were positively dancetastic. Check out what they're most excited about using in the new year to help further their resolutions, and get some inspiration on what to ask for at your next big celebration!
You've completed your summer intensive auditions and received your acceptance letters. Congrats! Now, it's time to choose where you'll be spending this vital training time. While it's easy to select the program with the biggest name, or head to the school where all your friends are going, it might not always be the best choice for you. Instead, it's most important to end up at a program that will nurture you while pushing you to fulfill your potential. Watch out for these common mistakes dancers can make as they finalize their summer plans.