Freshman Flashback: 9 Dance-Program Grads' Advice for Your First Year at College
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.
Sarah Stanley (Paula Court, courtesy Stanley)
Sarah Elizabeth Stanley
Sarah Lawrence College-BA in liberal arts and sciences, with a concentration in dance
"Explore interests outside of dance. It helps you develop more as a person and become a better dancer and artist. I started screenwriting my senior year, and it has really helped with my choreography and things like how to build and edit a narrative. English and history also help you understand where movement comes from, and science classes like physics or anatomy will help you figure out how your body works."
Jessica Bertram (Lori Teague, courtesy Bertram)
Emory University-BA in dance, BS in anthropology and human biology
"I wish I'd known about somatic practices before I entered college. Somatics is a field of movement study focusing on internal awareness. We had to take two or three somatic practice courses, such as applied yoga and contact improvisation, and it completely changed my dancing. You learn how to breathe and how your core is connected to everything. Even if I'd just taken yoga and Pilates in high school, I think I would've had a much smoother transition into my college technique classes."
Audrey Johnson (Bree Birr, courtesy Johnson)
Wayne State University-BFA in dance
"Freshman year, you should audition for anything and everything, including repertories, student works, and faculty pieces. Even though I wasn't cast in most things my freshman year, the faculty and upperclassmen got to know me, and it opened up doors for me later. After seeing and being a part of other student works during my first couple of years, I wish that I'd started making my own choreography my freshman year, just to take advantage of every opportunity."
Lydia Marbach (Chloe Hamilton, courtesy Marbach)
University of Arizona-BFA in dance
"Don't be afraid of the competition around you. My first day of dance class, I ran from an academic class over to the dance building for Ballet 400. I walked into a room of mostly seniors and juniors with perfect fifth positions and gorgeous lines, and I felt like I didn't look like any of them. I realized I needed to take ownership of my abilities, so my sophomore year, I took all of the dance classes I could fit into my schedule. Once the faculty sees that you're proud of who you are as a dancer, they're going to notice you!"
Emilie Stoll (Adam Campos, courtesy Stoll)
Connecticut College-BA in dance
"I was so disappointed when I was paired with a first-year roommate whoI didn't get along with very well. She wasn't courteous and her boyfriend was always hanging around, so I avoided my room as much as I could. I wish I'd known that I should prepare myself for the possibility of us not liking each other, and had applied for a room change. I was a naïve freshman who didn't want to cause trouble, but I should have spoken up for myself."
Dot Armstrong (Carly Vanderheyden, courtesy Armstrong)
University of Iowa-BFA in dance performance, BA in English
"You don't have to do ballet in college. I studied at a small-town ballet conservatory in high school, and so I applied to Iowa for its ballet program. I was lucky that Iowa has such a great balance of ballet and modern classes, because I learned that I shouldn't be afraid to explore beyond my comfort zone. Ask questions, both when you're applying for programs and when you first start out—you might miss important opportunities."
Ethan Barbee (Gabriella Olsen, courtesy Barbee)
University of South Florida-BFA in dance, minor in mathematics
"You're going to need major time-management skills. My freshman year, I tried to do everything, but I was so overwhelmed and didn't have any personal time. About midway through my sophomore year, I finally figured out that I needed to see my schedule on a spreadsheet to know what I should say yes or no to. You can be a great dancer and still have other friends and priorities. Joining a fraternity and being a peer advisor leader were two experiences I wouldn't trade for anything!"
Cecilly Shives (John Lacko, courtesy Shives)
Western Michigan University-BFA in dance
"I wish I'd known the 'freshman 15' would affect me regardless of my dance classes. With no parents around to make my food, the cafeteria being all-you-can-eat, and wanting to stay inside to hang out with friends in the dorms, I gained the weight. So my sophomore year, I made a complete 180-degree change. I went to the gym every day as part of my routine, and I made smarter eating choices, like drinking lots of water and heading to the salad bar first."
Sydney Burrows (Bicking Photography, courtesy Burrows)
Goucher College-BA in dance and English, minor in business management
"It's important to prioritize sleeping and eating well, especially during tech weeks and performances. I learned to keep snacks in my bag, such as nuts, bananas, and other fruits, almond butter, and protein bars, so that if I couldn't sit down for a meal, I could at least snack throughout the day."
Gabriella Olsen (Kyle Scharf, courtesy Olsen)
University of South Florida-BFA in dance
"Look into schools' study-abroad programs to see what's available. I was so lucky that my dance department developed a study-abroad program in France, because it really showed me what kind of route I wanted to take with my dancing. We studied at dance studios in Paris, learned from emerging global choreographers, and were treated like company members. The workshops that I took and the dancers that I worked with were unbelievable resumé builders. Ask what programs are available, as well as whether you can apply for any scholarships or grants."
Claire Goltz (courtesy Goltz)
University of Utah-BFA in ballet, minor in economics
"I thought that teachers in college would be very focused on tricks and how many pirouettes I could do. But we didn't get graded on how high our leg could go. It's about the pure technique and artistry. I had to learn how to let go of thinking I had done well because I had done an extra pirouette, and focus instead on implementing the artistry of the movement. My peers taught me how to make the smallest of details important in our dancing, and I now approach class very differently."
Last week Disney Channel star Sofia Wylie released a behind-the-scenes look at the making of her YouTube dance series. Along with some stellar dancing, the video shows the dance community featured in her "4k Dance Series" and the things they've learned from being a part of the dance project. And though the project features dance, we love that it also emphasizes supporting and building up fellow dancers.
Showstopper has been making its impact on the dance world since 1978. Before then, dancers didn't have a stage to perform on, the opportunity to learn from peers, or a competitive outlet like most sports. Debbie Roberts recognized this missing piece in the dance community and that is how America's first and longest running dance competition, Showstopper, was born. Debbie taught dance for over 26 years and owned and operated her own dance studio for 20 years. She is now the owner and National Director of Showstopper, along side her husband, Dave Roberts. Dancer, teacher, business owner, author, and mother, Debbie has made dance her life's career.
Sometimes, you hear talk about an upcoming class video and it sounds too good to be real. Wait: Todrick Hall made a track featuring RuPaul, and then Todrick personally asked Brian Friedman to choreograph it, and then Brian got Maddie and Charlize and Jade and Kaycee and Sean and Gabe and Larsen and Bailey to come out for the class? I just...that can't be right. Can it?
It is right, friends. It is SO RIGHT.
Team USA is totally taking over "Dancing with the Stars" this season! Casting for the upcoming athletes-only "DWTS" cycle, which kicks off April 30, was just announced. And the roster includes a whole bunch of Olympic favorites—including not one, not two, but three figure-skating standouts.
Winter is drawing to a close and you know what that means -- It's time to really kick this year into gear! Move U has done the research so you can find your best match, look good, and feel great this season with a twist unique to your team! Here are five looks to put your performance on the map in 2018.
With several Shaping Sound tours and TV credits like "So You Think You Can Dance," "Dancing with the Stars," and "Boardwalk Empire" to her name, you wouldn't expect Kate Harpootlian to be refreshingly down-to-earth. But that's exactly how she is: As soon as you start talking to the gifted dancer and choreographer, it becomes clear that she doesn't take herself too seriously. And she's happy to tell hilarious stories to prove it. (Ask her about the time she did a Mr. Peanut impression when Mia Michaels asked her to improvise, or the time she starred in a Japanese makeup commercial and had to do grand pliés wearing one pointe shoe and one flat shoe.)
That mixture of humor and grace is evident in Harpootlian's growing body of choreographic work. Her one-act show Better Late Than Never, for example, which premiered last summer, has a jazzy, West Side Story vibe, offsetting heavier moments with touches of whimsy. "There's always a balance in my work," Harpootlian says. "I want to use humor to balance out the darker aspects. It's like one of my friends once said: 'You make me laugh, and then you make me feel bad for laughing.' "
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 grip my quads, and I don't know how to stop. I'm totally overdeveloping my quad muscles. How can I retrain myself so I use my legs correctly? Help!
You know that pirouette dream, when your placement is so perfect you can keep turning forever? That dream is the reality for highly technical tappers, who benefit from the decreased friction of their shoes. Get the placement right and, with a strong spot, they can pirouette for days.
But turning in tap shoes isn't all easy. In fact, those delightfully friction-free shoes bring their own set of challenges, and dancers can easily fall into the spinning-top trap by letting the turn control them, rather than the other way around. Here's how to harness your tap-turning potential.
Given that we're still processing our own sadness about the recent dissolution of the couple formerly known as #TeamTatum, we can only imagine how many feelings Jenna Dewan must be feeling. But like all dancers, Dewan knows the best way to deal with big emotions is to dance through them.