The leap a dancer makes from student to professional is a big one. It’s not just the responsibility of having a job that’s a shocker—it’s also the uncomfortable shift you experience when living on your own for the first time. Adjusting to this new lifestyle while working within a dance company is one thing—these organizations offer benefits like yearly contracts, daily rehearsal schedules, free technique classes and a weekly paycheck that you can then build your life around. But young hopefuls—like our cover girl Haylee Roderick—who move to L.A. or NYC right out of high school with nothing but the hope of making it as a freelancer have none of the aforementioned stability. For these dancers, self-motivation is the key to survival and the impetus for everything they do (from loads of laundry to getting to dance classes). But the payoff for this discipline is huge. Imagine, at 18, knowing that each triumph you experience is a direct result of your own effort, drive and determination. Pretty cool.
In this April issue of Dance Spirit, we’re getting inspired by lots of success stories. In “Welcome to Hayleewood” (p. 44), find out how Haylee Roderick’s career is unfolding in L.A. She’s beautiful, charming and kind, but she’s also got the gumption of a fighter! Next, in “My Big Break” (p. 54), dance idols—from Alvin Ailey’s Hope Boykin to tapper Jason Samuels Smith—spill about their entree into the business. Yes, even they had to get their amazing feet in the door first! Then, an especially touching story is brought to life in Off the Record, “Breaking Free.” Turn to p. 24 to learn how one modern and Chinese-classical dancer came to leave her home country (where she grew up dancing at a military academy) to carve out a career in the U.S.
And, of course, there’s more. Read on, lovelies!
Calling All Dance Teams!
For all of you dance teamers out there: Every April Dance Spirit puts the spotlight on your genre, and this month is no exception. Turn to p. 50 to read “Reputation Remedies” and learn how to boost your team’s presence on campus. Then check out our fashion spread, “Dance Team Rehearsal Wear” (p. 34), which features our picks for flattering (and comfortable) practice looks that also let your personal style shine through. As an added bonus: Here, deputy editor-in-chief Alison Feller and assistant/fashion editor Michael Anne Bailey—both former dance team captains (and stars!) in college—share four things to know before signing up for your college team.
You might be running the show. Some college dance teams don’t have a coach or advisor, and others have coaches who prefer to be as uninvolved as possible. If you’re a captain, you’ll be choreographing, running rehearsals, picking out uniforms and costumes and even managing the team’s budget.
You may have to dance with poms! Many competitive dance teams include these cheerleading staples in a portion of their routines, or as entire routines on their own. The style is precision-based, high-energy and super-speedy.
You’ll probably be practicing when you’re used to sleeping. Growing up, you may have wrapped up classes at the studio by 8:30 pm. But in college, many rehearsal studios are only available directly before and after academic classes. Don’t be surprised if you’re scheduled to be in the studio at 6 am or until 11 pm.
You’re a team, not a club. Dance teams are often part of the athletic program, right alongside the football, lacrosse and basketball teams. You’re not just a performer—you’re an athlete. Own it.
Photos top to bottom: Haylee Roderick, photo by Omi; Michael Anne Bailey performing with the Brigham Young University Cougarettes, photo courtesy Michael Anne Bailey; Alison Feller performing with the Quinnipiac University Kickline team, photo courtesy Alison Feller.