When I was 16 and studying ballet in NYC, I was one of about 12 dancers cast in a TV commercial with music producer Quincy Jones. It was the perfect job: I got to fly to L.A., work with the celebrated choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett and dance on a soundstage—and I was paid, too! I even sat across from Patrick Dempsey in the airport as I waited for my connecting flight home. It was a storybook experience.
But the reality of working consistently in the City of Angels and earning a living as a full-time commercial dancer can be very different. You may land a featured spot in a movie, print ad, music video or tour, but when it’s over, you’re auditioning again.
For those who are up for the challenge, the rewards can be great. They’re being cast by the best choreographers in the business and strutting their stuff alongside the biggest personalities in Hollywood, and they’re often traveling the world, too.
This issue of Dance Spirit celebrates L.A.! First, in Tim O’Shei’s “Kickin’ It With KayCee” (p. 78) KayCee Stroh talks about landing her spot in High School Musical 3. She also opens up about what it’s like being a size 12 in a size 00 Hollywood. Then hear about her oh-so-famous cast mates and their dancing abilities in “Caps Off to High School Musical 3” (p. 82). In “Livin’ La Vida L.A.” (p. 88) Sarah Christine Smith writes about her first year in Hollywood. It wasn’t easy, but she’s since performed with Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Carrie Underwood. And in “My L.A. Day” (p. 94), glean advice from pro Sandra Colton. Her biggest tip for dancers who want to break out of the background? Acting classes.Plus, Sascha Radetsky writes a letter to his teenage self (p. 46). Remember when Sascha crossed over to Hollywood to play Charlie Sims in Center Stage? Now he’s a principal dancer with the Dutch National Ballet.
On page 64, plunge into “Calendar Girls,” DS’ annual costume preview. This year, style editor Lauren Levinson has packed our pages with charming looks for every month of the year.
Last but not least, November is election month, which means that those of us who are 18 and older get to grand jeté to the polls to cast our votes for President! In “Dancing to the Polls” (p. 104) DS contributing editor Kristin Lewis talks to a handful of pros to find out how politics impacts their lives. Plus, think performance pieces can’t be political? Not true! Some of the most compelling works in dance history were made in response to politics. DS’ list is just a taster menu, so if you don’t see your favorite there, please let us know. If we get enough responses, we’ll keep a running list on our website.
So begin prepping your resumé for that dream L.A. gig, keep practicing your tendues and for goodness’ sake, on November 4th, VOTE!
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.