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
College Scholarships<p>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 <a href="http://www.nycdance.com/nationals" target="_blank">New York City-based Nationals</a> every July. Seniors who already know where they're attending school can also receive funds from the NYCDA Foundation.</p>
NYCDA's annual college audition
Courtesy NYCDA Foundation
Training Scholarships<p>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 <a href="http://www.nycdance.com/regionals" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Regionals</a>. 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.</p>
Andy Blankenbuehler teaching at NYCDA
Career Opportunities<p>"NYCDA will put you in a room with people who will eventually pay you to dance," says veteran Broadway dancer <a href="http://www.nycdance.com/faculty/corey-snide" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Corey John Snide</a>, 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.</p><p>Even more important than the titles were Snide's scholarship to Juilliard and introduction to <a href="http://www.nycdance.com/faculty/andy-blankenbuehler" target="_blank">Andy Blankenbuehler</a>—both thanks to NYCDA—which led to some of his most notable career highlights including dance captaining for <em>CATS</em> on Broadway, assisting on the upcoming <em>CATS</em> movie, and landing a gig in the upcoming Broadway production of <em>West Side Story</em>.</p>
Corey John Snide in CATS on Broadway
A CATS audition workshop at NYCDA