Career Advice

Need Some Guidance? Find a Mentor

Ewan Robertson

A new side job has popped up for savvy dancer/entrepreneurs: online mentoring. Dance students can get answers to their burning questions; pros can earn a little extra cash between rehearsals. It's a win-win.

Check out these four new platforms. All offer a little something different, depending on what you're looking for.


Mia Michaels Live

Inimitable contemporary choreographer Mia Michaels launched Mia Michaels Live earlier this month to help dancers "unlock your inner unicorn." Depending on what level of membership subscribers want to pay for, they can gain access to an online master class once a month, receive audition notices for upcoming projects, take part in monthly group mentoring sessions and even score virtual one-on-one time with Mia.


Mentorly

Co-founded by Ballets Jazz de Montreal's Ashley Werhun, Mentorly offers close to 300 mentors from all sorts of disciplines—web design, cinema, fashion technology, and, yes, dance. Which makes it ideal for artists who want to get expertise from another field for an upcoming project, or learn more before launching into a cross-disciplinary collaboration. No need to sign on for a long-term relationship; mentees just book a single session whenever they want and mentors can schedule it when they're available.


The Whole Dancer

Focused on health and fitness, The Whole Dancer offers individual coaching and group programs led by former professional dancer turned certified health coach Jess Spinner. Courses focus on things like nutrition and confidence, and Spinner offers personal sessions over Skype.


Ballet Mentor

Launched by a group of American Ballet Theatre dancers, Ballet Mentor lets bunheads connect directly with a top artists like Sara Mearns and Gillian Murphy. Choose who you want to talk to and send them as many messages as you want. You're guaranteed to get a response within a week.

The Creative Process
Rehearsal of Yvonne Rainer's Parts of Some Sextets. Photo by Paula Court, Courtesy Performa.

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.

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Sponsored by NYCDA
Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

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:

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Health & Body
Getty Images

Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with dancers at Atlanta Ballet, offers tips for creating a more body-positive studio experience:

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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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