Jennifer Jancuska (center) in rehearsal. Photo by Full Out Creative, Courtesy Jancuska

Jennifer Jancuska's The BringAbout Puts Dance Into the Development of New Musicals

To Jennifer Jancuska, the possibilities of a new musical are best explored through collaboration and movement. Now the resident choreographer/dance supervisor of Hamilton on Broadway, she created Jennifer Jancuska + The BringAbout in 2016. Its residency program incorporates dance into the development process of new shows as they're still being written. Writers collaborate with The BringAbout's music team and performing artists as Jancuska leads them in the discovery of choreographic motifs, vocabulary and vibe. Having helped shape more than 25 new pieces, The BringAbout highlights the storytelling power of dance in theater.

How It Started

"I was really interested in having a community with other artists. How do we learn from each other, respect each other and celebrate each other while continuing to grow?"

What a Residency Includes

"Because the residency is only one or two days, it allows everyone to just jump in. We can all do it while doing other jobs. There's a freedom in connecting without expectations. We walk out with momentum that propels more ideas and conversations."

"Everybody in the room is standing and engaged, even the writers. No one is sitting back observing."

"The writers and I go through the script and find three moments we'd like to explore with dance as a narrative tool. Usually, that tends to be an opening number that sets up the world the story is going to live in, transitions that navigate the viewers through the show and one character who functions differently than the others."

Why Dance Should Be Part of the Process

"For writers, it helps to understand how dance can live within their script and support their story, so they don't overwrite or underwrite moments."

"If you bring movement into a piece as writers do their rewrites, they have tangible experience that can add to the imagination. And when they can articulate their ideas with vividness, producers will be more likely to get on board and say, 'Yes, let's dive in.' "

Already Making Moves

"The very first TBA residency was for Anne of Green Gables four years ago. We continued development by doing a video and a couple of songs, which eventually led to securing a full-scale workshop, and now we're going into production of the show next summer."

Her Plans for the Future

"My hope is that The BringAbout becomes a standard part of our industry's process of developing new shows. It feels very doable. I mean, it's one day! And it's a valuable storytelling resource."

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AMDA's 4 Tips for Acing Your Next Audition

Ah, audition day. The flurry of new choreography, the long lines of dancers, the wait for callbacks. It's an environment dancers know well, but it can also come with great stress. Learning how to be best prepared for the big day is often the key to staying calm and performing to your fullest potential (and then some).

This concept is the throughline of the curriculum at American Musical and Dramatic Academy, where dance students spend all four years honing their audition skills.

"You're always auditioning," says Santana Trujillo, AMDA's dance outreach manager and a graduate of its BFA program. On campus in Los Angeles and New York City, students have access to dozens of audition opportunities every semester.

For advice on how dancers can put their best foot forward at professional auditions, Dance Magazine recently spoke with Trujillo, as well as AMDA faculty members Michelle Elkin and Genevieve Carson. Catch the whole conversation below, and read on for highlights.

July 2021