Commercial dancer Shirlene Quigley has performed with Lizzo, Beyoncé, Rihanna and more. Photo by Jayme Thornton

What's Shirlene Quigley's Love Language? Dance

Dance is my love language. It's the way I spread joy around the world. It's my superpower, the purpose God gave me and one of the main reasons I smile.

I'm full of feelings, although some people may not know it because I am quite reserved, private and almost shy at times. Dance is the way I express whatever I'm feeling, or let go of any emotions I may not want to feel. It's the one thing that removes any inhibitions that make me too meek to express myself.

Besides day camp, talent shows, drill team and moves I put together with my friends in the backyard, I didn't have too much experience doing choreographed dance moves until I took a class at Millennium Dance Complex at 15 years old. That day, dance became my first love, stronger than any school crush. I started taking four to six classes a day, without Mom and Dad telling me to, but because I had to. I went from law school goals to dance class dreams, regardless of what anyone might have thought. Thank God I did, because all of my hopes, wishes and more have come true since I took that leap of faith.

With God in my heart, faith in my pocket and passion in my soul, I married dance long ago. I hope any dancer who truly loves dancing knows God is waiting to bless them tremendously. God would never give you that much joy in any area if He wasn't ready to fulfill it. Timing and patience are key to reap the seeds of your dreams. That one job could change your life forever; you just never know when.

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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