When I was a ballet dancer entering a company at the end of my junior year of high school, college was the furthest thing from my mind. I wanted a dance career more than anything. Plus it was normal then for a ballet dancer to graduate from high school, go straight into a company and never give college a second thought. Who needs college when you’re going to be dancing for a living anyway, right? Wrong!
On top of getting an education, which will benefit you your whole life, the right college dance program will also make you a stronger, better and more knowledgeable dancer. It’s also a networking Mecca! Especially if you want a career in the modern or Broadway world, college is where you’ll meet the choreographers and dancers who will help get you jobs (and in this economy, that’s everything!). Many universities, like Southern Methodist University, SUNY Purchase and The Ohio State University, are known for continually pumping graduates into the mainstream dance scene.
Even if your goal is to be a professional ballet dancer, please don’t think that going to college during or after dancing professionally is your one and only option. Take a look at our cover girl, Lauren Fadeley (“Pennsylvania Prodigy,” p. 68). She attended school full-time at Indiana University (and graduated magna cum laud) and then got a job dancing full-time. She is now rising through the ranks at Pennsylvania Ballet. How cool is that?!
In this issue, DS also taking a closer look at conservatories, those specialized four-year programs that are either self-contained within a university setting, like the conservatory at Point Park, or are stand-alone programs, like Juilliard. In “Conservatory Life,” we follow three dancers through their weeks at top schools: Juilliard, Boston Conservatory and University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
But conservatories are only a few of the hundreds of options a college-bound dancer has. Turn to our 2009 Higher Ed Guide (p. 114) to get a clearer picture of what is available to you. This year there are more than 145 schools to check out.
Then, when you need a break from thinking about your future in education, turn to p. 92 and read about JaQuel Knight—Hollywood’s newest “it” choreographer. He tells us what it’s like to be a young aspirant plucked from millions of unknowns and asked to help create moves for such artists as Beyoncé. He and his career are on fire!
Plus we’ve got fabulous stretching tips (p. 48), a do-not-miss contemporary step-by-step (p. 100), fashion advice (p. 58) and so much more.
OK, time for the truth: My name is Kate Lydon, and I am a Fame addict! I have watched the original Fame movie so many times that I know every song by heart. When I was in San Francisco Ballet, my roommates used to get mad at me for blasting “The Body Electric” while singing into my hairbrush in front of the mirror. And I know I’m not alone when I tell you that the theme song to the Fame television show goes through my head every time I pass by the fountain at Lincoln Center. (Remember the girl who did piqué turns around it in the opening sequence?) I still meet dancers who remind me of the characters: “TK,” the prissy (and good!) ballet dancer, and “Leroy,” the talent with no formal training. And when I first moved to NYC to go to American Ballet Theatre’s School of Classical Ballet and enrolled in the Professional Children’s School on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, I secretly imagined we would have our very own “Hot Lunch Jams” in the dining hall. (Unfortunately that never happened.)
Now it’s time to get some new inspiration: The remake of Fame hits theaters this month! Check out our Dancer’s Diary with cutie cast member Paul McGill (p. 40). If you have been a DS subscriber for a while now, you’ll know that we first spotted Paul on Broadway in A Chorus Line. We photographed him for our “Broadway Babies” story in the July/August 2007 issue. Here’s what he said when writer Abby Rasminsky asked him about his “favorite NYC moment.”
“Every day! I wake up every morning so thankful for where I am, what I’m doing. It doesn’t happen to everyone, and it’s very rare that it happens at such a young age. I get up in the morning, open my blinds, look out the window and think, ‘I’m here; I did it.’ It’s something I’ve always dreamed about.”
Seems like Paul has his own real life Fame story. Lucky guy!