Ashley McKinney, Courtesy LADP

Daisy Jacobson Asked Benjamin Millepied to Choreograph a Solo on Her. Then He Asked Her to Join LADP.

It isn't easy to stand out when you're a newbie in a pack of fearless dancers. But Daisy Jacobson does, and effortlessly. Onstage with Benjamin Millepied's L.A. Dance Project, she combines the refinement of her classical training with a soulful, infectious attack, making her impossible to miss.

Jonathan Potter, Courtesy LADP

Company: L.A. Dance Project

Age: 24

Hometown: Manhattan Beach, California

Training: South Bay Ballet and Lauridsen Ballet Centre in Torrance, California; The Juilliard School

Accolades: 2019 Princess Grace Award nominee, 2013 YoungArts Winner and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts

Ashley McKinney, Courtesy LADP

On moving away from ballet: Jacobson was classically trained—including summers at American Ballet Theatre and Houston Ballet—but "didn't have a tiny waist," she says. When she fell in love with LADP and realized that several of its dancers had gone to Juilliard, she decided to audition for a BFA.

Learning from injury: She developed knee problems at age 11, and had surgery after her first year at Juilliard. "I wasn't back to normal until my senior year," she says. That said, she learned that taking care of her body is an important priority. "Your pain is real. If you're feeling it, it's not just in your head."

Jonathan Potter, Courtesy LADP

On her "audition" for LADP: Jacobson knew she wanted to dance for Millepied's company, and during her senior year, she asked him to choreograph a solo on her. At the end of the week, he offered her an apprenticeship, but it caught her off guard. "I was like, 'Do you think I'll fit in? Are you sure I'm what you want?' It was the worst way to accept a job offer!"

What Millepied is saying: Jacobson's potential was evident during that solo project. "I knew her intelligence could transform her into a major artist," he says. "She has an extraordinary ability to absorb new movement."

Life outside of dance: Jacobson lives in Hollywood with her boyfriend, fellow Juilliard grad (and Jacob Jonas dancer) Lorrin Brubaker. She recently started taking an acting class for "mental cross-training" and is learning that what makes a great actor is also what makes a great dancer: "Being a good listener and responding to the person you're dancing with can bring the audience into your world," she says. And Jacobson loves being a beginner again. "It's good to set your ego aside and fail."

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AMDA students learn how to present their best selves on camera. Photo by Trae Patton, Courtesy AMDA

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