I cannot carry a tune. Like, not even a little bit. Sometimes at night I like to blast a little Celine Dion ("It's All Coming Back To Me Now" is in heavy rotation on my iPod these days) and fully rock out while my boyfriend cringes and tries to convince me that I "sound really, really good."
I know he's lying.
I've always wanted to have a pretty little angelic voice, but I'm tone-deaf and, frankly, I'm just too loud to be able to alter my pitches. I'm more of a lyric-yeller than a singer.
But you should strive to be a better-rounded starlet than I am. If you've ever dreamed of taking your dance skills onto a Broadway—or regional—stage, you're going to have to be able to convince a casting director that you can, in fact, hold the correct key during "What I Did For Love."
For most people, singing isn't something that comes naturally. It's something you have to study and work at and oh hey, we can help with that! (Rest assured that "we" does not mean me—it means someone with actual vocal talent.)
JoAnn Hunter has performed in 12 Broadway shows, including Chicago, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Damn Yankees and Miss Saigon. She dances, sings and choreographs, and has trained with vocal coach Liz Caplan, who she says "completely shaped my voice to be Broadway-worthy." Hunter gave us a few choice bits of wisdom to share with you...
"Growing up, I was asked to sing at my dance recitals, so I thought I could sing. It wasn't until I started taking voice lessons that I realized I had no idea there was a technique in singing just like there is in dance."
"The key to singing is breathing. Dancers have a tendency to breathe from their chests and keep their rib cages up. That's incorrect for singing. Singing taught me to use my diaphragm, which gave me more stamina—I was able to get more air in my system and breathe slowly."
"The vocal cords are muscles you have to warm-up. Once they're warm, you can manipulate them, just like you do with your body in dance."
"There's no reason for dancers to fear singing. You just need to get out of your head. Get out of your own way first."
And Hunter's best piece of advice: "You can be the best dancer ever, but if you want to be in a Broadway show you have to hone your vocal talent. There are 16–20 dancers onstage during a show, and everybody has to contribute on that stage both physically and vocally. Learn how to act a song."
So remember how I said we can help you be a really good singer, just like JoAnn Hunter? Well, she trained with Liz Caplan and we've got Super Smart Liz ready to teach you, too—from the comfort of your own living room (or shower, which is where I prefer to do most of my singing). Click here to buy the Singing for Dancers app.
(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.