Auditioning to Dance for the NBA
Two hundred girls decked out in Brooklyn's latest fashion—ripped jeans, leather chokers and camouflage crops tops—wrapped around the outside of Long Island University–Brooklyn's auditorium while stretching and checking their reflection in their phones. I knew I was in the right place. I took a deep breath and hopped in line for the open call for the Brooklynettes Dance Team.
The Brooklynettes are the dance team for the NBA's Brooklyn Nets (get it?). The team was seeking out not only gifted dancers but well-spoken, intelligent women who could serve as ambassadors for the brand. Having just moved to Brooklyn and been a part of Temple University's Dance Team, I decided to try my luck.
At most auditions I went to this season, I wore a leotard and slicked my hair back in a bun with some light makeup on. But dance team auditions are much different than concert dance company auditions. Since you're constantly on camera and projected on a jumbo-tron, hair and makeup needs to be exaggerated. Fake eyelashes are a necessity—you have to master how to put them on and keep them on through hours of sweating. I did a natural smokey eye with a neutral lip and had my hair loose and flouncy so that the judges could see how I danced with it (yes, hairography is a thing!).
We were all required to wear shorts and a crop top, but the difficult part was standing out in the sea of beautiful girls and also looking like you blend well with the team's style. I decided on a black and white block-patterned top and black shorts to match the Nets' colors. My outfit looked similar to the 'Nette's dance uniforms.
Over the first two days, we learned an across-the-floor combination, a street jazz combination, a hip-hop combination and an athletic combination. I'd never heard of an athletic combination before, but the name says it all! It consisted of 17 different tricks like head-springs, kip-ups and splits. We must have gone down to the floor and come back up in one count about five different times. (Fitness gurus should start athletic combination classes...it's an insane workout!).
I made it through four rounds of cuts, ignoring the fact that my arms and legs felt like noodles.
By days three and four, there were 35 of us left and four spots to fill. The final round included interviews with the coach, marketing manager and three team captains. The panel asked to hear something interesting about me. Since I knew that they were looking for an answer that would parallel with the role as an empowered female brand ambassador, I told my story of how my career dreams changed from chemical engineering to pursuing dance and journalism.
The final performances included "one-on-one" performances, where two dancers with a similar look and dance style perform together in front of managers, directors, coaches and team captains. We were all given a white sports bra and black spandex shorts to wear so we looked identical. Yes, this part of the audition was intimidating. But I tried to focus more on enjoying dancing with my partner rather than competing against her.
The biggest challenge was waiting. When we began performing one-on-ones, those of us not performing couldn't practice on the sides—and I was one of the last to perform. A lot of the dancers sat down, but I wanted to stay focused so I remained standing. I tried to concentrate on each group, went through the counts in my head and did a few stretches and shakes in between groups to make sure I stayed warm. It was difficult to keep all of the material in my body while getting cold for an hour, and then exerting all of my energy in a two-minute burst.
By the final day, I knew that it came down to who completed the diverse look and fit the brand of this year's team. Although I didn't end up making it this year, I was proud of advancing all the way through to the final round, making professional connections and taking on this audition with confidence after only two weeks of living in New York City.
Now it's on to the next audition.
Thirty years ago, U.S. Joint Resolution 131, introduced by congressman John Conyers (D-MI) and Senator Alphonse D'Amato (R-NY), and signed into law by President G. W. Bush declared:
"Whereas the multifaceted art form of tap dancing is a manifestation of the cultural heritage of our Nation...
Whereas tap dancing is a joyful and powerful aesthetic force providing a source of enjoyment and an outlet for creativity and self-expression...
Whereas it is in the best interest of the people of our Nation to preserve, promote, and celebrate this uniquely American art form...
Whereas May 25, as the anniversary of the birth of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson is an appropriate day on which to refocus the attention of the Nation on American tap dancing: Now therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress that May 25, 1989, be designated "National Tap Dance Day."
Happy National Tap Dance Day!
The way we create and consume dance is changing every day. Now more than ever, the field demands that dancers not only be able to perform at the highest level, but also collaborate with choreographers to bring their artistic visions to life. Dancers who miss out on choreographic training may very well find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to launch their careers.
Over the past 15 years, Gesel Mason has asked 11 choreographers—including legends like Donald McKayle, David Roussève, Bebe Miller, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Rennie Harris and Kyle Abraham—to teach her a solo. She's performed up to seven of them in one evening for her project No Boundaries: Dancing the Visions of Contemporary Black Choreographers.
Now, Mason is repackaging the essence of this work into a digital archive. This online offering shares the knowledge of a few with many, and considers how dance can live on as those who create it get older.
When a musical prepares to make the transfer from a smaller, lesser-known venue to Broadway (where theaters hold 500-plus seats), often there's a collective intake of breath from all involved. After all, a bigger house means more tickets to sell in order to stay in the black, and sometimes shows with even the most tenacious fan bases can't quite navigate such a jump. But what about the transfer from stage…to screen? Is Broadway ready to be consumed from the comfort of your couch?
It's not often that a promising choreographer gets to stage work in a world-class theater, on a skillfully-curated program with professional dancers, and with the possibility of winning a substantial cash prize. But at the McCallum Theatre's Palm Desert Choreography Festival, that's been the status quo for over twenty years.
Since Shea New, the festival's artistic director, founded the festival in 1998, she's worked tirelessly with McCallum's director of education and festival producer, Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, and stage manager and festival production manager Joanna Fookes to build a festival that nurtures choreographers, highlights high quality work, powerfully engages the local community and cultivates an audience base for dance in the Coachella Valley. The trio is backed by a strong team of professionals at McCallum and the brilliant volunteers from the local and national level who serve as adjudicators.
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Daphne Lee was dancing with Collage Dance Collective in Memphis, Tennessee, when she received two difficult pieces of news: Her mother had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer, and her father had Parkinson's disease, affecting his mobility and mental faculties.
The New Jersey native's reaction: "I really need to move home."
Summer is almost upon us, and whether you're a student about to go on break or a pro counting the days till layoff, don't forget that with warm weather comes a very serious responsibility: To maintain your cross-training routine on your own.
Those of us who've tried to craft our own cross-training routine know it's easier said than done. So we consulted the stars, and rounded up the best options for every zodiac sign. (TBH, you should probably consult an expert, too—we'd recommend a physical therapist, a personal trainer or your teacher.)
It's become second nature in dance studios: The instant anyone gets hurt, our immediate reaction is to run to the freezer to grab some ice (or, more realistically, a package of frozen peas).
But as routine as icing our injuries might be, the benefits are not actually backed up by scientific studies. And some experts now believe icing could even disrupt the healing process.
I'm a contemporary dancer, and I'm nervous about trying to get pregnant since I can't predict if it might happen during the middle of the season. We have a union contract that is supposed to protect us. But I'm scared because several of my colleagues' contracts weren't renewed for no particular reason. Having a big belly could be a big reason to get rid of me!
—Andrea, New York, NY
When the going gets tough, the tough start dancing: That's the premise behind "Dance of Urgency," a recently opened exhibit at MuseumsQuartier Vienna that features photos, video and other documentary material relating to the use of dance as political protest or social uprising.
The groups featured in the show, largely based around clubs and electronic dance music scenes, span the globe and respond to a variety of issues—from inequality and social stratification to racial divides to crackdowns on club culture itself.
Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.
The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, fabulous ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.
As usual, several of our faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list:
When you're a foreign dancer, gaining legal rights to work in the U.S. is a challenging process. It's especially difficult if you're petitioning to work as a freelance dancer without an agent or company sponsorship.
The process requires professional muscle along with plenty of resources and heart. "There's a real misnomer that it's super easy," says Neena Dutta, immigration attorney and president of Dutta Law Firm. "People need to educate themselves and talk to a professional."
Here are four things every foreign dancer who wants to work in the U.S. needs to know to build a freelance dance career here.
What does it take to "make it" in dance? It's no secret that turning this passion into a profession can be a struggle. In such a competitive field, talent alone isn't enough to get you where you want to be.
So what kinds of steps can you take to become successful? Dance Magazine spoke to 33 people from all corners of the industry to get their advice on the lessons that could help us all, no matter where we are in our careers.