At a Crossroads: Quincie Hydock
Hydock with Ryan Smith; Photo by Sarah Ferguson, Courtesy Richmond Ballet
Growing up a bunhead in Virginia Beach, Quincie Hydock’s main dream was to join a classical ballet company. She trained seriously at Virginia Ballet Theatre and continued there while attending high school at the Virginia’s Governor’s School for the Arts; as graduation neared, she knew she was on track for a college dance program. With its strong ballet program, Butler University in Indiana ranked high on Hydock’s list of schools.
Flash forward five years later, and Hydock is in somewhat of a different place than she expected. After graduating in 2013 with a BFA in dance and choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University, she’s a freelance dancer in New York City, where’s she’s also presented her own work. And while she still hopes to join a concert dance company (like Hubbard Street Dance Chicago), she’s sporting bare feet more than pointe shoes these days and has her sights set on more contemporary work. —Jenny Dalzell
How did you choose VCU?
My high school hosted the National High School Dance Festival my junior year, and the director of Richmond Ballet’s trainee program told me about their partnership with VCU: The first two years of college you’re a full-time trainee with the Richmond Ballet and you get credit toward a BFA. I hadn’t considered that program before—I wanted strictly ballet and I had assumed VCU was all modern. But when I auditioned for Butler in the October of my senior year, I didn’t get in. That turned out to be okay, because I wouldn’t have auditioned for VCU.
What was your schedule like?
As a trainee, I took my gen ed classes in the morning, and headed to Richmond Ballet from 1 pm to 6 pm Monday through Saturday. I only had one VCU dance class per week—a modern class taught by different guest artists.
After the two years as a trainee, students are either chosen for Richmond Ballet’s second company, or they can continue college. What was your route?
I switched over to be full-time at VCU. I took ballet four times per week and modern five days per week. And I started taking choreography classes, which is something I realized that I love.
How did you feel when you weren’t selected?
Well, my first year, none of the trainees were chosen, and then only two trainees were chosen out of my year. You just have to keep in mind that it’s a professional company. They’re selective in whom they choose; and they often selected people from outside auditions—dancers they didn’t know as trainees.
By my second year into the traineeship, I realized that I didn’t necessarily want a career in classical ballet. That was great, because I got to really explore the school and modern dance. Plus, I never got senioritis since I was really only at school for two years.
In retrospect, would you have made a different choice after high school?
I absolutely love what happened. The best thing about the traineeship was that I got professional experience with a company, which has been especially pivotal now as a freelancer. I know how to act like a professional; I know how hierarchies work—even simple things like not encroaching on someone else’s space at barre. I think it was a blessing that my original plan didn’t work out. I realized I was ready to explore something else.
Dancers are understandably obsessed with food. In both an aesthetic and athletic profession, you know you're judged on your body shape, but you need proper fuel to perform your best. Meanwhile, you're inundated with questionable diet advice.
"My 'favorite' was the ABC diet," says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Koskinen, who trained in dance seriously but was convinced her body type wouldn't allow her to pursue it professionally. "On the first day you eat only foods starting with the letter A, on the second day only B, and so on."
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
Yvonne Rainer's Parts of Some Sextets (AKA "the mattress dance") hasn't been revived since it premiered in 1965. Nor has Rainer had any wish to do it again, to ask performers to heave 10 mattresses around while carrying out 31 tasks that changed every 30 seconds. It was an unwieldy, difficult dance. (Even the title is unwieldy.) But Emily Coates, who has danced in Rainer's work for 20 years, became curious about this piece and was determined to see it again—and to dance in it. She will get her wish November 15–17, when the mattress dance will be performed as part of the Performa 19 Biennial.
"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.