How to Prepare for Your Journey as a Professional Dancer
We caught up with former Rockette Trina Simon at Showstopper's Myrtle Beach dance convention to get her expert advice on how to work as a professional dancer. Trina's work on Broadway has given her insight into the key things to focus on as a professional dancer looking for jobs and making a name for yourself, whether you are new to the world of professional dance or you have been making your way from one audition to the next for a while.
Auditions Above all else, Trina recommends confidence. Being a confident dancer at an audition makes you stand out. Confidence says that you know what you're doing and that you feel like you belong on stage. This will make directors and judges notice you even if you aren't the best dancer because there is something attractive about owning your presence in a room.
"MY EYE GOES TO THE DANCERS WITH THE MOST CONFIDENCE. EVEN IF THEY MIGHT NOT END UP BEING THE BEST ONE, THEY PULL YOUR EYE TO THEM BECAUSE THEY APPEAR TO KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING."
Trina also told us that rejection is something that will happen. Rejection is inevitable when you are an artist, and if you do not think you can handle rejection, this might not be the best path for you. You will learn from these rejections, though, so take your rejections and make the best of them. Trina also recommends using rejection to your benefit by auditioning for experience. Audition for anything you can, even parts that you do not think you are right for or that you might not want. The more you audition, the more comfortable you will feel in auditions. That comfort and experience will help you succeed in your career.
"THE MORE YOU PRACTICE, THE BETTER YOU ARE AT IT, AND AUDITIONING IS DEFINITELY AN ART."
Know the Process Working as a professional dancer is a process. Every step of the way is an art that you have to master. Learn every step of this process from the possibility of being cut from an audition to how to pack your dance bag to be prepared. This also means learning and mastering as many skills as possible so you are prepared for whatever an audition may throw at you. This could mean working on your singing skills or taking classes in acrobatics if those are areas that you feel could bolster your presence as a performer. Part of the process is honesty. Don't lie on your resume. Eventually, the skills that you claim to have will be asked of you, and if you cannot meet the director's expectations, you can always be replaced by someone who can. Be yourself and make the most of the talents and skills you do have. That is the best way to take control of your part in the process of working professionally.
Take Opportunities to Network When you go to auditions or work with choreographers and directors, develop relationships with them! These relationships will help you at future auditions with those same type of creative minds. These connections can also lead you to productions and jobs all over the country and even the world (you don't have to head straight to Broadway!).
Trina Simon was a Radio City Rockette for 17 years. She has performed in their Christmas and Spring Spectaculars, among several other events throughout the years. After being promoted to the Rockette's Assistant Choreographer, she trained the Rockettes for 10 years. Trina has also performed in Animal Crackers, A Chorus Line, Crazy for You, West Side Story, The Will Rogers Follies, 42nd Street and Anything Goes at such theaters as Paper Mill Playhouse, Sacramento Music Circus, Casa Manana, St. Louis MUNY, Kansas City Starlight, and Houston's TUTS. Trina is also a former company member of Clear Lake Metropolitan Ballet. Trina now hosts at Showstopper Dance Competitions and teaches at Showstopper Dance Conventions.
Gabriel Figueredo in a variation from Raymonda. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.
This week, over 1,000 young hopefuls gathered in New York City for the Youth America Grand Prix finals, giving them the chance to compete for scholarships and contracts to some of the world's top ballet schools and companies. Roughly 85 dancers made it to the final round at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater on Wednesday. Today, the 20th anniversary of YAGP came to a close at the competition's awards ceremony. Read on to find out who won!
After a string of ballet-company rejections, Jennifer Sydor (here in Laura Peterson's "Failure") found success in other areas of the dance world. (Stephen Delas Heras, courtesy Jennifer Sydor)
In her senior year at Butler University, Jennifer Sydor auditioned for more than a dozen regional ballet companies—and got a string of "no, thank you" responses. "I have an athletic build, and my movement quality isn't the typical ballet aesthetic," Sydor says. "But I'd been laser-focused on ballet. When I didn't get a ballet contract, I was heartbroken."
Her one job offer came from Kim Robards Dance, a small modern company based in Aurora, CO. After attending KRD's summer intensive, Sydor ended up accepting a yearlong position with the troupe. "I was relieved and happy to begin my career," she says. She's been working as a contemporary dancer ever since.
In the dance world, rejection is part of the package. That doesn't make it any more pleasant. But whether you didn't get the Nutcracker role of your dreams or you weren't picked for a job despite feeling like you aced the audition, you can emerge from even the most gut-wrenching "no" smarter and stronger.
Ballet West principal Beckanne Sisk as Kitri (Luke Isley, courtesy Ballet West)
Guess who's baaaaack?! Your resident Dance Spirit astrologers! And on the eve of the Youth America Grand Prix awards ceremony, we thought it was the perfect time to pair each zodiac sign with a variation commonly seen during the competition. After many painstaking hours spent researching, consulting the stars, and staring wistfully into the sky, we compiled our data and present you with the definitive list of each star sign as a YAGP variation! As we said last time, don't @ us if you're not happy with your pairing—the stars don't lie, baby!