Sponsored by NYCDA

NYCDA Is Redefining the Convention Scene Through Life-Changing Opportunities

Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.

"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."

Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.

Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:


NYCDA founder Joe Lanteri with the 2019 college scholarship recipients

Courtesy NYCDA

College Scholarships

NYCDA has perhaps become most known for the massive amount of college scholarships they dole out every year. Both high school juniors and seniors have the opportunity to earn scholarship money: Juniors are recruited and offered scholarships directly from colleges, who participate in the annual NYCDA National College Scholarship Audition at their New York City-based Nationals every July. Seniors who already know where they're attending school can also receive funds from the NYCDA Foundation.

NYCDA's annual college audition

Courtesy NYCDA Foundation

This past summer, NYCDA had 180 dancers auditioning for college scholarships and 10 colleges—including Marymount, Point Park University, Pace University and University of the Arts—in attendance. The schools' offers surpassed 10 million dollars, and the NYCDA foundation awarded $355,000.

Langan sees NYCDA as helping dancers gain a foundational building block in their career. "A college education is really important," she says. "NYCDA has put its stamp behind it with this enormous event."

Training Scholarships

Many conventions and competitions—NYCDA included—give scholarships back to their own organizations so that participants can attend a subsequent event. But what sets NYCDA apart is the fact that they also pay it forward, handing out training scholarships to other institutions at every single one of their Regionals. Whether or not students win any titles, they have the opportunity to earn scholarships to programs like Steps on Broadway (which Lanteri also co-owns and directs), Peridance Capezio Center, Broadway Dance Center, BODYTRAFFIC (where 50% of dancers are NYCDA alums), the Perry Mansfield Performing Arts School and more.

Andy Blankenbuehler teaching at NYCDA

Courtesy NYCDA

Career Opportunities

"NYCDA will put you in a room with people who will eventually pay you to dance," says veteran Broadway dancer Corey John Snide, and he would know. Snide grew up doing NYCDA, earning the National Outstanding Dancer Award in the Mini, Junior and Teen age divisions, and is now on NYCDA's faculty.

Even more important than the titles were Snide's scholarship to Juilliard and introduction to Andy Blankenbuehler—both thanks to NYCDA—which led to some of his most notable career highlights including dance captaining for CATS on Broadway, assisting on the upcoming CATS movie, and landing a gig in the upcoming Broadway production of West Side Story.

Corey John Snide in CATS on Broadway

Courtesy NYCDA

At Nationals each July, students participate in Broadway audition workshops—often with the casting director, dance captain and choreographer in the room. While the workshops are primarily meant to help dancers hone their audition skills, it's not unheard of for students to walk out of the room with a job. (When Newsies was on Broadway, the casting director even traveled with NYCDA to Regionals to scout talent!). At Nationals, real auditions for the Rockettes or to be Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular are often held.

For Snide, friendships formed between participants are as valuable as those forged with faculty members and master teachers. "I can point to so many of my lifelong friends from NYCDA with outstanding careers," he says. NYCDA's alumni champion each other, often working together on projects later in their careers.

A CATS audition workshop at NYCDA

Courtesy NYCDA

Professional Development

Growing up in Albany, NY, Snide says he wouldn't have even known being a professional dancer was a possibility for him without the exposure to the New York City dance scene that NYCDA provided him. While many conventions and competitions have moved their Nationals away from New York City, NYCDA has stayed—giving students of all ages the opportunity to learn from dance world giants.

Even at Regionals, NYCDA holds Friday Night Sessions, master classes with everyone from Tony nominees Joshua Bergasse and Warren Carlyle to principal dancers to artistic directors. "Dancers underestimate what it means to have the opportunity to be in the room with these people," says Lanteri. NYCDA faculty members, too, are a valuable source of knowledge, connections and resources for students. "They're incredibly caring and generous," he says. "They are invested in these kids—and not just for two days."

Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell has seen first-hand NYCDA's long-lasting impact on one student's career: A scholarship to The Ailey School led to an Ailey II offer which led to a contract with the main company. But before students can take advantage of these opportunities, Powell says that they need a first taste of what working in the professional dance world can be, starting with developing their own identities as dancers—which NYCDA also helps them do. "When I'm working with students and teaching them in New York City there's an energy," he says. "They come with such joy and excitement and willingness to be hungry and committed to dance and to becoming the greatest artist that they can become."

Dance Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy of Hightower

The beloved "So You Think You Can Dance" alum and former Emmy-nominated "Dancing with the Stars" pro Chelsie Hightower discovered her passion for ballroom at a young age. She showed a natural ability for the Latin style, but she mastered the necessary versatility by studying jazz, ballet and other forms of dance. "Every style of dance builds on each other," she says, "and the more music you're exposed to, the more your rhythm and coordination is built."

Keep reading...
Site Network
Getty Images

Dancers certainly don't need anyone to tell them how physical their profession is. But now, we have the data to prove it.

Researchers at InsuranceProviders.com analyzed data from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), a national organization developed through support from the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration, to determine the 20 most physically demanding jobs in the country. They analyzed the level of strength, stamina, flexibility and coordination required for a host of jobs, and each category was assigned

Keep reading...
Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

Q: How do you approach gender when teaching in 2020? When I was training, male dancers were encouraged to make their movement masculine, while female dancers were encouraged to keep their movement feminine. Today, gender has become much more fluid, and the line between masculine and feminine performance has blurred. How does that impact the way we should be teaching?

Keep reading...
Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

Going upside down can be scary. It's spatially bewildering, and young students who have spent their lives upright often lack the strength required to feel confident putting their weight on their hands. But, don't fret! There are safe and pleasant ways to build the muscle and the might for dynamite inversions.

Keep reading...
Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

I love this level. I see it as the true origin of a student's dance journey. Intermediate students have bought in, caught the fever, chosen to move beyond inquiry about dance to investment in dance. They are yearning to advance past their beginner training and label.

As teachers, we begin to set more stringent expectations for them to commit to class, take ownership of their learning, and comprehend more terminology and skills. Yet, they are still a bit disheveled in their movement and engagement. They still sometimes forget their dance pants and confuse upstage with downstage. Some of them are still, well, terrified.

Keep reading...
Site Network

2019's movies featured some truly fantastic dancing, thanks to the hard work of many talented choreographers. But you won't see any of those brilliant artists recognized at the Academy Awards. And we're (still) not OK with that.

So we're taking matters into our own jazz hands.

On February 7—just before the Oscars ceremony—we'll present a Dance Spirit award for the best movie choreography of 2019. With your help, we've narrowed the field to seven choreographers, artists whose moves electrified some of the most critically-acclaimed films of the year.

Keep reading...
Dance Teachers Trending
Kathryn Alter (left). Photo by Alexis Ziemski

In every class Kathryn Alter teaches, two things are immediately evident: how thoughtfully she chooses her words, and how much glee she gets from dancing the movement and style of modern choreographer José Limón. At the 2019 Limón summer workshop at Kent State University, Alter demonstrated a turning triplet with her arms fully outstretched, a smile stretching easily across her face. "It should be as if…" She paused to think of the perfect analogy that would help the dancers find the necessary circularity of the movement. "As if you live in a doughnut!" she finished, grinning broadly. The dancers gathered around her laughed—her smile and love for something as foundational as a triplet was contagious.

Keep reading...
Dance Teacher Tips
Melanie George (right). Photo by Grace Corapi, courtesy of George

Teachers from coast to coast are pushing students to move outside the constraints of popular music. There is a consensus that the earlier you introduce varied musical forms, the more adept and adaptable a dancer's musicality will be.

New York–based jazz scholar and teacher Melanie George notices that many students' relationships to music can be reductive: They may think exclusively about lyrics or accents. But jazz, for example, is about swinging: an embodied comprehension of instrumentation that only comes with musical acuity. "Students are ready for this specificity, even if we aren't giving it to them," she says. When her students understand that there is a technique to listening, it becomes less about going forward, and more about going deeper into the sound and into their bodies.

Keep reading...
Site Network
Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron in a scene from An American in Paris. Courtesy Fathom Events.

If you loved Christopher Wheeldon's An American in Paris on Broadway, you can now see the 1951 Oscar-winning movie it's based on in all its Technicolor glory. Fathom Events will present MGM's An American in Paris, starring Gene Kelly and French ballerina Leslie Caron, and with music by George and Ira Gershwin, in select theaters nationwide January 19 and 22.

Keep reading...
Dance Teachers Trending
"Music is magical," says Black. "It just transforms kids." Photo courtesy of Black

After 31 years of teaching, Kim Black has mastered how to reach young dancers. Between a studio and private school, she teaches 34 classes per week in Burlington, North Carolina: That's 238 kids from ages 2 to 6 years old. "You have to make them fall in love with dance," says Black. The music, she says, cues this engagement.

Keep reading...
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Lindsay Thomas, courtesy of PNB School

Naomi Glass, teacher at Pacific Northwest Ballet School, knows firsthand the advantages and challenges of hypermobility. As a young dancer, she was told to keep her hyperextended knees in a straight position far from her full range of motion. "It felt too bent to me," she says. "But once I was able to access my inner thighs and rotators, I found strength and stability and could still use the line that I wanted."

Hypermobility occurs when joints exceed the normal range of motion. Dancers can have hypermobility in specific joints, like their knees, or they can have generalized laxity throughout their bodies (which is often measured using the Beighton system—see below). While this condition may enable students to create beautiful aesthetic lines, it can also increase risk for injury. Help dancers gain the strength they need to stay healthy while making the most of their hypermobility.

Keep reading...
Instagram
Photo by Rachel Papo

Alicia Graf Mack's journey to become director of The Juilliard School's Dance Division—the youngest person to hold the position, and the first woman of color—was anything but a straight line. Yes, she's danced with prestigious companies: Dance Theatre of Harlem, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Complexions Contemporary Ballet and Alonzo King LINES Ballet. But Mack also has a BA in history from Columbia University and an MA in nonprofit management from Washington University in St. Louis; she pursued both degrees during breaks in her performing career, taken to recover from injuries and autoimmune disease flare-ups.

As an undergrad, she briefly interned at JPMorgan Chase in marketing and philanthropic giving, and she later made arts administration central to her graduate work, assuming that she'd eventually take an administrative role with a dance organization.

Keep reading...

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox