Training

Can You Really Network With the Judges At Competitions?

A panel at Youth America Grand Prix. Photo by Rachel Papo for Pointe

At competitions, the people who are scoring you can be the biggest industry leaders in the room. But is there a way to network with them with these judges? Three top competition judges share their advice on how to do it in the most strategic way—and the pet peeves that turn them off.


Mandy Moore—The Dance Awards

Don't be afraid to be forward, suggests Moore. Photo by Lee Cherry, courtesy Moore

"When you talk to a judge, never ask, 'I did my solo to this song—what did you think?' Putting a judge on the spot can be awkward, and will do a disservice to your greeting. Introduce yourself and say thanks. If you have more questions than I can answer in a quick conversation, you can always ask how you can contact me. I tend to remember dancers who are forward in a professional, mature way."

Monique Meunier—Youth America Grand Prix

Don't bring your parent with you, warns Meunier. Photo courtesy Meunier

"If you've just taken class with one of the judges, ask for constructive criticism or for clarification on a correction. You can also ask us for career or training advice: 'I'm applying to universities; can you tell me about the program where you teach?' One pet peeve of mine is older dancers who come up to me with their parents or teachers. As a teen, you should be able to speak for yourself."

Chloe Arnold—New York City Dance Alliance

Ask an informed question, suggests Arnold. Photo by Lee Gumbs, courtesy Sillar Management

"If you get a chance to take class with your judges, prioritize your training. Class is where mentor bonds are built, and after class tends to be the best time to network. One thing that will make an artist take notice is when you ask an informed question that shows you've been paying attention to their career and their work."

In Memoriam
A flyer showing Alberto Alonso, Fernando Alonso, Benjamin Steinberg and Alicia Alonso. Photo courtesy the author

Alicia has died. I walked around my apartment feeling her spirit, but knowing something had changed utterly.

My father, the late conductor Benjamin Steinberg, was the first music director of the Ballet de Cuba, as it was called then. I grew up in Vedado on la Calle 1ra y doce in a building called Vista al Mar. My family lived there from 1959 to 1963. My days were filled with watching Alicia teach class, rehearse and dance. She was everything: hilarious, serious, dramatic, passionate and elegiac. You lost yourself and found yourself when you loved her.

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Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Left: Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston Ballet's Dance Lab; Courtesy Harlequin. Right: The Dance Lab pre-Harvey; Nic Lehoux, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.

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Hansuke Yamamoto in Helgi Tomasson's Nutcracker at San Francisco Ballet, which features an exciting and respectful Chinese divertissement. Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

It's Nutcracker time again: the season of sweet delights and a sparkling good time—if we're able to ignore the sour taste left behind by the outdated racial stereotypes so often portrayed in the second act.

In 2017, as a result of a growing list of letters from audience members, to New York City Ballet's ballet master in chief Peter Martins reached out to us asking for assistance on how to modify the elements of Chinese caricature in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. Following that conversation, we founded the Final Bow for Yellowface pledge that states, "I love ballet as an art form, and acknowledge that to achieve a diversity amongst our artists, audiences, donors, students, volunteers, and staff, I am committed to eliminating outdated and offensive stereotypes of Asians (Yellowface) on our stages."

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Dance & Activism
Allegra Bautista in Nevertheless, by ka·nei·see | collective. Photo by Robbie Sweeny

An audience member once emailed Dallas choreographer Joshua L. Peugh, claiming his work was vulgar. It complained that he shouldn't be pushing his agenda. As the artistic director of Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, Peugh's recent choreography largely deals with LGBTQ issues.

"I got angry when I saw that email, wrote my angry response, deleted it, and then went back and explained to him that that's exactly why I should be making those works," says Peugh.

With the current political climate as polarized as it is, many artists today feel compelled to use their work to speak out on issues they care deeply about. But touring with a message is not for the faint of heart. From considerations about how to market the work to concerns about safety, touring to cities where, in general, that message may not be so welcome, requires companies to figure out how they'll respond to opposition.

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