At a Crossroads: Quincie Hydock
Hydock with Ryan Smith; Photo by Sarah Ferguson, Courtesy Richmond Ballet
Growing up a bunhead in Virginia Beach, Quincie Hydock’s main dream was to join a classical ballet company. She trained seriously at Virginia Ballet Theatre and continued there while attending high school at the Virginia’s Governor’s School for the Arts; as graduation neared, she knew she was on track for a college dance program. With its strong ballet program, Butler University in Indiana ranked high on Hydock’s list of schools.
Flash forward five years later, and Hydock is in somewhat of a different place than she expected. After graduating in 2013 with a BFA in dance and choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University, she’s a freelance dancer in New York City, where’s she’s also presented her own work. And while she still hopes to join a concert dance company (like Hubbard Street Dance Chicago), she’s sporting bare feet more than pointe shoes these days and has her sights set on more contemporary work. —Jenny Dalzell
How did you choose VCU?
My high school hosted the National High School Dance Festival my junior year, and the director of Richmond Ballet’s trainee program told me about their partnership with VCU: The first two years of college you’re a full-time trainee with the Richmond Ballet and you get credit toward a BFA. I hadn’t considered that program before—I wanted strictly ballet and I had assumed VCU was all modern. But when I auditioned for Butler in the October of my senior year, I didn’t get in. That turned out to be okay, because I wouldn’t have auditioned for VCU.
What was your schedule like?
As a trainee, I took my gen ed classes in the morning, and headed to Richmond Ballet from 1 pm to 6 pm Monday through Saturday. I only had one VCU dance class per week—a modern class taught by different guest artists.
After the two years as a trainee, students are either chosen for Richmond Ballet’s second company, or they can continue college. What was your route?
I switched over to be full-time at VCU. I took ballet four times per week and modern five days per week. And I started taking choreography classes, which is something I realized that I love.
How did you feel when you weren’t selected?
Well, my first year, none of the trainees were chosen, and then only two trainees were chosen out of my year. You just have to keep in mind that it’s a professional company. They’re selective in whom they choose; and they often selected people from outside auditions—dancers they didn’t know as trainees.
By my second year into the traineeship, I realized that I didn’t necessarily want a career in classical ballet. That was great, because I got to really explore the school and modern dance. Plus, I never got senioritis since I was really only at school for two years.
In retrospect, would you have made a different choice after high school?
I absolutely love what happened. The best thing about the traineeship was that I got professional experience with a company, which has been especially pivotal now as a freelancer. I know how to act like a professional; I know how hierarchies work—even simple things like not encroaching on someone else’s space at barre. I think it was a blessing that my original plan didn’t work out. I realized I was ready to explore something else.
To be honest, we never tire of watching non-dancers tackle a day in the life of the pros. From athletes to average Joes, these videos always give us a good laugh, and they remind the rest of the world that a whole lot of work goes into every dance performance you see. But often times, these dancer-for-a-day videos don't fully understand the importance of training (i.e., you can't just throw on a pair of pointe shoes and give it a go).
That's why we're especially loving this video by Refinery29 that actually gets it. Lucie Fink, host of the R29 YouTube series Lucie For Hire , got a private lesson from American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, and it was endlessly entertaining.
"So why did you quit?"
It's a question I've been asked hundreds of times since I stopped dancing over a decade ago. My answer has changed over the years as my own understanding of what lead me to walk away from greatest love of my life has become clearer.
"I had some injures," I would mutter nervously for the first few years. This seemed like the answer people understood most. Then it became, "I was just not very happy." Finally, as I passed into my 30s, I began telling the uncomfortable truth: "I quit dancing because of untreated depression."
We'd love to know what it is that has Pina Bausch, Rudolf Nureyev and Gerard Violette so amused, or what Toer van Schayk (far right) is thinking here, but one thing's for certain: We're terribly envious of the journalist (second from right) who got to be there when this shot was taken in 1986.
It's the end of a long rehearsal day for the dancers of Abraham.In.Motion. They're reviewing phrases of a new work, Dearest Home. It's a pretty typical rehearsal scene. Some dancers cluster around a laptop trying to piece together steps learned long ago. Others review choreography together, working to figure out who remembered which arms correctly.
What isn't typical: The company's director and choreographer, Kyle Abraham, is nowhere to be seen.
That's because while the company is based in New York City full-time, Abraham spends most of his year teaching at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he joined the faculty last September. It's an unconventional model for a single-choreographer–led troupe, almost functioning like a repertory company in which choreographers drop in for a week to set a piece, leaving it up to the rehearsal directors and dancers to keep the momentum going.
La Scala Ballet has a knack for snagging exceptional guest artists, and the company's rare West Coast appearance this weekend at Segerstrom Center for the Arts is no exception. Principal dancer étoile Roberto Bolle will partner both Misty Copeland and Marianela Nuñez in Giselle. And in an extra international twist, they'll be accompanied by the Mikhailovsky Orchestra for the engagement. July 28–30. scfta.org.
Serious dancers interested in musical theater face a difficult choice when applying to college: Should you major in dance or musical theater? "You can make a career following either pathway," says Lynne Formato, associate professor of performing arts at Elon University. If you choose to go the musical theater route, find a program that will challenge your dance technique: