Four Stars Share The First Time They Danced Their Dream Roles
Is there a part you desperately want to do, something that makes your heart sing? What would it be like to get the chance to perform it? For some lucky people, dancing a coveted role is a dream that comes true. We asked four top dancers how it felt when they got the opportunity to do a cherished part.
Megan Fairchild with Chase Finlay in "Duo Concertant" (photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy New York City Ballet)
Megan Fairchild, principal, New York City Ballet
Dream role: George Balanchine's "Duo Concertant"
I'm not a big dreamer—maybe I'm a little boring that way. I was always overwhelmed by the parts that came to me, because I got promoted so fast. But I do have a special love for Duo Concertant. It creates a unique kind of relationship with the audience. You start standing behind the piano with your partner, just listening.
I didn't get to dance Duo Concertant until later in my career. Honestly, I was shocked when they had me do it. Technically, it's right up my alley: It's fast footwork, musical and syncopated. But I had to grow artistically. I had to show the relationship with my partner while just watching the musicians. The ballet ends with a very dramatic sequence in
a spotlight. I rarely get to dance repertoire with
theatrical moments like that, and I relish it.
I didn't have much time to rehearse before my first performance, so I took the video tape and learned it on my own. I came very prepared—all they had to teach me was the counts, which is unusual for me! I also interviewed Kay Mazzo, who originated the role, to hear her thoughts, and I got some coaching from NYCB ballet master in chief Peter Martins during the final rehearsal. I had to control my nerves during the first performance because I was so excited.
My brother Robbie Fairchild, who's also a principal, does the ballet too, and that's one of the reasons I never thought I'd dance it. The ending is super-romantic! What if there was a problem and we had to switch partners? We do have this idea that one day maybe we'll get to do it together—minus the romantic ending.
Jamar Roberts with Rachael McLaren in "Blues Suite" (photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater)
Jamar Roberts, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Dream role: "Backwater Blues," from Alvin Ailey's Blues Suite
I never had a dream role until I first joined AAADT and saw Renee Robinson and Amos J. Machanic Jr. dance "Backwater Blues," this amazing duet. I thought, "Wow! It would be great if I ever got to do that!"
And I did get to do it two years ago, with one of my best friends, Rachael McLaren. We're practically brother and sister, and she really helped me bring my character to life. We rarely get to dance together because of our height difference, so the rehearsal process was basically us laughing the whole time. I couldn't have asked for a better partner.
I learned the work in about two weeks, but I'd been watching it for years and years, so I kind of knew the steps already. There aren't a lot of technical stunts; it's more about two characters and human experience. The choreography is flirtatious and fun, but the couple is clearly having a fight. I expected there to be more time between steps and comedic moments. It's tricky to portray anger in just eight counts! Our associate artistic director, Masazumi Chaya, gave us a lot of freedom to interpret the choreography our own way.
There are probably things I'm better at dancing, but this role felt so good to me. I threw myself into it, instead of pacing myself, like I usually would with a long ballet. I was so excited to just give everything.
Kathryn McCormick (photo by Joe Toreno)
Kathryn McCormick, contemporary dancer
Dream role: Mentor
Every job I book is different, and they've all been incredibly challenging and rewarding. Acting in Step Up Revolution was an especially transformative experience, because I had to use my voice and not hide behind my body. It taught me to embrace all of my flaws, and that I don't always have to look graceful.
But after doing commercial gigs, movies, and TV, I realized that my dream wasn't to take on a particular role. It was to connect with the younger generation and remind them of their worth. For me, it's not about getting the best job; it's about the impact that I'm making.
In 2010, I joined The Revolve Tour's motivational speaking tour, Dream On, and got to tell over 80,000 girls my story. I talked about my struggles and my faith, and it was incredible. It was a pivotal moment for me, because it made me realize that what I have to share is valuable and that people need to hear it. I was also on "So You Think You Can Dance" for eight years, and my favorite part was being a mentor to Tate McRae in Season 13. I could feel the difference I was making in her life!
Jessica Lee Goldyn as Cassie in "A Chorus Line" (courtesy Goldyn)
Jessica Lee Goldyn, musical theater dancer
Dream role: Cassie, in A Chorus Line
Growing up, we would do a "Chorus Line workshop" every summer at my home studio. My jazz teacher played Paul in A Chorus Line all over the country, and he taught me some of the original choreography. Then I saw the show at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey, and I remember feeling numb and kind of in awe. That was it! I was in love. I actually auditioned for NYC's Professional Performing Arts School with Cassie's big solo, "The Music and the Mirror."
I made my Broadway debut as Val in A Chorus Line, which was thrilling, but I wasn't covering any other part. At the end of the two-year run, they didn't have anyone to do Cassie for the final week of performances. So they auditioned me, and quickly made me a cover for the role. Then, in a "throw on" situation, I ended up doing it! I didn't get a lot of rehearsal time, but it was incredible.
Since then, I've done nine productions of the show, playing Cassie in each one. I've worked with Donna McKechnie, the original Cassie on Broadway, and she helped me infuse life into the part. It became a dialogue instead of just a chance to kick my leg really high, like I did when I was 21. I stripped away the performance aspect and really told my story.
The show has been such a through-line in my life. In a way, Cassie's story has started to mirror my own. What's exciting now is that I'm almost the "right" age to do the role—Cassie's supposed to be a little bit older. I hope I get to play her again, because it's still a dream role, even though I've done it so many times.
A version of this story appeared in the October 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Livin' the Dream."
Paige Fraser has performed on world-class stages and alongside Beyoncé—yet some of her most meaningful dance moments happened in tiny classrooms on a small island 1,000 miles from America. This past spring, Fraser, who's danced with Ailey II and is a founding member of Visceral Dance Chicago, teamed up with the non-profit Milk Carton on a String to bring dance to underprivileged children in Haiti. Fraser taught daily ballet and modern dance classes and used YouTube videos and social media to introduce the students to other aspects of dance they hadn't been exposed to.
Now, Fraser plans to continue to use dance to give back through her own newly-funded non-profit, The Paige Fraser Foundation. But instead of traveling outside the country, Fraiser will be helping kids in her childhood home: the Bronx. She wants her foundation to assist aspiring dancers no matter their color or abilities.
Read our interview with the dancer and do-gooder—and discover the life-changing diagnosis that inspired her to help other dancers achieve their dreams.
Kyle Van Newkirk is a tap dancer you probably remember from the premiere season of NBC's World of Dance. In case you missed it, he is also one of Showstopper's incredible convention teachers. What makes Kyle stand apart from some of today's other incredible tappers? He isn't afraid to change what tap means to his audience and even himself. This modern view of tap dancing is important because it shows us that tap dancers are just as versatile and dynamic as dancers of any other genre. We sat down with Kyle to get his advice on bringing tap dancing into the 21st century.
Sure, dancers definitely have some unique identifying characteristics. (We're all obsessed with Center Stage? FACT.) But we're also subjected to all kinds of annoying, inaccurate stereotyping. Here are 10 dancer stereotypes that we never want to hear again.
They say there's no "I" in "team"—and nowhere is that truer than the world of college dance teams, where precision reigns, uniformity is key, and a single misstep from any given "I" can cost a group a championship trophy. So it's unsurprising that securing a spot on one of the best dance teams in the country is no easy feat.
Members of these highly athletic teams rehearse for hours every week—on top of academic classes and commitments—and perform at football and basketball games, annual concerts, and nationally televised competitions (hi, ESPN). And "no I" rule notwithstanding, each of these top teams is made up of highly trained, highly technical, highly hard-core individuals, who come together to create a ready-for-victory pack.
These six teams aren't one-off success stories—they're consistently strong, and earn the top spots at major competitions like UDA and NDA nearly every year. Up for the challenge? Here's what to know before you go to auditions.
You can never go wrong with a classic black leotard. Discount Dance's long-sleeve mesh leo will add a sleek edge to your studio style. Pair it with tights and a skirt for ballet class, or layer some leggings and sweats for contemporary class. Enter below for your chance to win it!
The Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center is the 54,000 square foot home of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, one of the largest facilities dedicated to dance on a private university campus. Designed for their innovative new curriculum, that supports a range of dance styles, the school's staff designated Harlequin to provide wall-to-wall flooring for the large 3,500 square foot Performance Studio as well as five dance studios in their new state-of-the-art building.
Last night was both the best and the worst night of "Dancing with the Stars: Athletes." The best, because one lean, mean, dancing machine of a couple got to take home the Mirrorball trophy. The worst, because we won't be able to tune in to "DWTS" each Monday to get our weekly dose of dance mania until the fall. But all good things must come to an end, and "DWTS: Athletes" was certainly one of the best seasons yet. The remaining three couples all brought their A-games to the dance floor for the finale, showcasing two dances: a traditional ballroom routine and a freestyle. Here's the final recap.
DancerPalooza, America's Largest Dance Festival, is moving to sunny SAN DIEGO, California from July 24-29, 2018.
Check out all of the NEW Intensives DancerPalooza has to offer this year!
When Janet Jackson puts out a call for new dancers, basically the ENTIRE WORLD responds. More than 75,000 people entered Jackson's epic #DanceWithJanet contest, announced earlier this spring, which let hopefuls from around the globe audition via social media for a chance to perform with the icon.
So, out of those tens of thousands, who became the newest members of the #JTribe? Meet Phillip Galbert and L'Vala "Lala" Moss, the winners of the competition. Last night, they joined Janet onstage at the Billboard Music Awards. And they more than earned their place in the spotlight.