Dorrance Dance's Elizabeth Burke on Pre-Show Rituals and Celeb Doppelgängers
Photo by Matthew Murphy, courtesy Dorrance Dance
Dorrance Dance's Elizabeth Burke's dynamic technique and intricate musicality have made her a tap-scene standout. A Chapel Hill, NC, native, she trained with the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble, led by her mentor, Gene Medler. She's an alumna of The School at Jacob's Pillow and graduated from Marymount Manhattan College with bachelor's degrees in political science and communication arts. Burke appeared on a Dance Spirit cover in 2010, and has danced with Dorrance Dance since its formation in 2011. Catch her performing at the company's New York City Center run tonight through Saturday, and read on for The Dirt!
Do you have any pre-performance habits?
I like to get my hair/makeup done on the earlier side (not at the last minute).
Ideally, I incorporate a handful of things into my pre-show warm-up:
—tap dancing! (improvising, rudiments)
—physical therapy/Pilates-based strengthening and stabilization (I've had some injuries!)
—If I've activated my core, hips, legs, and broken a sweat, I feel better!
Who are you most proud of?
My mama and my niece
What's your best advice for young dancers?
—treat everyone with kindness and respect
—respect your elders
—keep yourself open to learning and exploring your entire life
Have you had any embarrassing moments onstage?
Plenty of them! Fairly recently (January 2018), Byron Tittle and I collided midair in an Association of Performing Arts Professionals showcase. I sprained my left wrist and was in a brace on tour. Let it be known that it was my fault, not Byron's! I love you, Byron Tittle.
Who would play you in a movie?
People tell me I look like Elizabeth Olsen? But that's a purely aesthetic choice based on physical appearance…
Do you have any nicknames?
Many! E, e burke, lady burke, lady burkowitz, e burkowitz, e girl, burkey, churp, churl, churple, churps, churper, agent oo flappy, burke, marion cotillard, burkowit…
What's one food you can't live without?
An iced chai tea latte with either almond, oat, soy, or nondairy milk (skim in a pinch), with light ice…in the biggest size they've got. Ventiiiiii
Who can always make you laugh?
Gene Medler, the founder and artistic director of North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble!
Who's your dance role model?
Gene Medler. "Dance to express, not to impress." Gene is hands down one of the greatest humans and dancers I'll ever know.
What's your go-to stress reliever?
MUSIC. Also a big believer in the restorative power of sleep!
Where do you feel happiest?
Surrounded by people I love most, sharing and making music/art/dance.
Gabriel Figueredo in a variation from Raymonda. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.
This week, over 1,000 young hopefuls gathered in New York City for the Youth America Grand Prix finals, giving them the chance to compete for scholarships and contracts to some of the world's top ballet schools and companies. Roughly 85 dancers made it to the final round at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater on Wednesday. Today, the 20th anniversary of YAGP came to a close at the competition's awards ceremony. Read on to find out who won!
After a string of ballet-company rejections, Jennifer Sydor (here in Laura Peterson's "Failure") found success in other areas of the dance world. (Stephen Delas Heras, courtesy Jennifer Sydor)
In her senior year at Butler University, Jennifer Sydor auditioned for more than a dozen regional ballet companies—and got a string of "no, thank you" responses. "I have an athletic build, and my movement quality isn't the typical ballet aesthetic," Sydor says. "But I'd been laser-focused on ballet. When I didn't get a ballet contract, I was heartbroken."
Her one job offer came from Kim Robards Dance, a small modern company based in Aurora, CO. After attending KRD's summer intensive, Sydor ended up accepting a yearlong position with the troupe. "I was relieved and happy to begin my career," she says. She's been working as a contemporary dancer ever since.
In the dance world, rejection is part of the package. That doesn't make it any more pleasant. But whether you didn't get the Nutcracker role of your dreams or you weren't picked for a job despite feeling like you aced the audition, you can emerge from even the most gut-wrenching "no" smarter and stronger.
Ballet West principal Beckanne Sisk as Kitri (Luke Isley, courtesy Ballet West)
Guess who's baaaaack?! Your resident Dance Spirit astrologers! And on the eve of the Youth America Grand Prix awards ceremony, we thought it was the perfect time to pair each zodiac sign with a variation commonly seen during the competition. After many painstaking hours spent researching, consulting the stars, and staring wistfully into the sky, we compiled our data and present you with the definitive list of each star sign as a YAGP variation! As we said last time, don't @ us if you're not happy with your pairing—the stars don't lie, baby!