The Dance Year in Review According to AMDA Alumni

Sponsored by AMDA
December 8, 2023

The team at AMDA believes there isn’t just one way to advance in the dance industry. Rather, there are a plethora of paths dancers can take to find success—and create sustainable, fulfilling, and wide-ranging careers. “With our dynamic fusion of top-notch training along with creativity, we are cultivating well-rounded students and well-rounded dancers,” says Kyle McHargh, a member of AMDA’s principal faculty.

AMDA’s curriculum is designed accordingly. With classes that place emphasis on every aspect of the dance industry, from technique, performance, and choreography to administration, personal branding, and content creation, graduates emerge fully prepared to navigate the excitement, and challenges—and unpredictability—of a career in dance. 

“In 2023, you need to not only be a dancer and artist, but you also need to be your own content creator,” McHargh says. “You need to also know the business of dance—and how to produce a show. Students are gaining all of that information within the curriculum here.” McHargh adds that the majority of AMDA’s faculty are active within the dance industry, so fostering professional connections—which often lead to work postgraduation—is inherent to being an AMDA dance major.

AMDA dancers on set for AMDA’s dance film production, Anteros. Photo by Josh S. Rose, courtesy AMDA.

The importance of self-care and building a sustainable career are also embedded into the curriculum. Students have access to a variety of mental and physical health resources at AMDA’s Center for Health and Performance, and teachers regularly check in with them about their well-being, helping them cultivate healthy habits they can carry into their careers. “It’s embedded in our culture to talk about those things,” says McHargh. AMDA grads know how to craft a viable work schedule consisting of a range of professional opportunities, so they are prepared to find work at any age, any stage, or in any situation.

From start to finish, AMDA’s program is designed to prepare dancers for long, healthy, and diverse careers. Check out these highlights from two alums’ 2023 in review.

Agnes Royster-Stallion

Agnes Royster-Stallion on set for Mastered. Photo by Marc Stallion, courtesy Royster-Stallion.

Coaching movement therapy: “I graduated from AMDA in 2017, and I did work professionally in L.A. for a year after that. I wanted to do work that I felt would be more fulfilling, so I did a specialization in movement therapy, and that’s what I’ve been focused on this past year. I started coaching clients in movement therapy, using dance and body movements with breathwork and meditation to help relieve stress, anxiety, trauma, and lack of creativity.”

Working with her Haiti-based company, WAYS: “I was in Haiti for the past three years. I started my dance company, WAYS, and we launched last year. It’s an acronym for ‘With All Your Soul.’ It’s really based on Haitian folklore, Haitian dance, and contemporary. I wanted to showcase quality work in the Haitian community to the world.”

Agnes Royster-Stallion (second from right) with members of her company, WAYS. Photo by MR Dje, courtesy Royster-Stallion.

Producing Mastered, an original dance film: “My husband, Marc Stallion [also an AMDA alumni], and I did a short dance film, called Mastered, based on anxiety. He wrote and directed it, and I choreographed and danced in it. We are submitting it to festivals. So far, we have nominations for Film Shortage and the Venice Film Festival.”

Ryan Ruiz

Ryan Ruiz performing with Diavolo. Photo by Carlos Bravo, courtesy Ruiz.

Company member with Diavolo: “I definitely think the push for creativity and creating at AMDA was extremely helpful for me in the work with Diavolo. A lot of the work is not necessarily choreographed steps given to me; it’s more that I’m given a task and then I create something in the moment.”

Performing in music videos: “About a year ago I did the music video ‘Something to Lose,’ by Anna Margo, and choreographed by Mike Tyus. Then I did a music video for Nieri, choreographed by Baylie and McCall Olsen.”

Performing in multidisciplinary artist Sara Silkin’s Still“It was a weekend of small shows, and it was a very fast process to learn movements in a complicated costume of sheer fabric that is essentially two dresses attached to each other. The piece was about 20 minutes, and we did multiple shows per day, and it also ended with us creating a dance film of the piece.”

AMDA alumni Ryan Ruiz. Photo by Zack Whitford, courtesy Ruiz.

Teaching at Los Angeles–based dance studios GENESIS and The Space_LA: “My class is called Contemporary Flow, and I also teach a floorwork-based class, as well. I love referencing teachers from AMDA and giving them credit when I’m teaching.”

Teaching Contemporary Foundations at AMDA: “It was one of the first classes of the morning and it consisted of mostly delving deeper into a more technical space rather than the creative space, honing in on technical aspects of contemporary movement.”

Presenting choreography at SpectorDance’s Choreographers’ Showcase: “The piece was called This didn’t happen overnight. This was my first work presented outside of an educational space. It’s a duet that plays with the ideas of issues of stereotypes within Asian culture.”