Zoey Anderson Is a Role Model for Comp Kids

Zoey Anderson with Justus Whitfield of Parsons Dance; photo by Lois Greenfield, courtesy of Parsons Dance

Zoey Anderson is the role model competition kids need today. As trends for the rising generation move more toward versatility and comprehensive training, 25-year-old Anderson is a professional who actually has been able to do it all. While training at Center Stage Performing Arts Studio in Orem, Utah, in ballroom, ballet, jazz, contemporary and hip hop, she flew back and forth to L.A. for gigs like the Macy's Passport Fashion Show, a Pepsi One commercial and the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Always a ballroom competitor, in 2010 she became the Ballroom National Smooth Champion.

After high school she moved to New York City and honed her classical and concert skills at Marymount Manhattan College. After graduating, she joined Parsons Dance, where she's performed professionally ever since. In 2018 she was nominated for the Outstanding Performer Bessie Award.

On doing it all "From the time I was 10 years old, I knew my main goal was to end up in New York City, either in a company or on Broadway. Of course, at my competition studio in Utah, those weren't the opportunities that were available to me—ballroom and commercial gigs were. I'm the type of person who gets completely wrapped up in whatever they're doing. I can't help but love where I am at any given moment. I've always understood that the more styles you know, the more you have under your belt to offer an employer. I've made sacrifices in order to pursue multiple avenues of the dance world. At the end of it all, I've just enjoyed the journey."

On her plans for the future "I'm definitely going to stay within the concert world for as long as possible. I want to do it until my body says I can't anymore. I could see myself pursuing certain Broadway or commercial opportunities down the road that aren't as time-consuming or taxing on the body. I'm hoping to get a master's and then teach in a university setting. My college years were so important for me in terms of finding myself as a dancer, and I want to be that kind of support to others. It's humbling to give back after everything that I have been given in my life. "

On what she wishes the rising generation of comp kids understood "There are endless possibilities. It's about showing up, doing your best, putting yourself out there and taking risks. Expose yourself to as much as possible. The connections you make will be hugely beneficial to you. There will be auditions and opportunities that you'll be tempted to skip because they are different than your end goal. Don't do that. Don't limit yourself to one Broadway show or one company or one artist. Go for everything you possibly can. Each job is a stepping-stone closer to your dream—or even, something else that's better altogether. Lastly, the comp world is not the end-all/be-all. It's a learning experience. Don't think your placement at a competition defines your future. I can't tell you how many times I came in as first runner-up, and yet here I am."

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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