Laurieann Gibson Shares Her Tips for "So You Think You Can Dance" Contestants
Although she choreographed on early seasons of "So You Think You Can Dance," Laurieann Gibson hasn't watched the show all that much in the past decade. But when she got the call asking her to be a judge this season, she didn't hesitate to say yes.
"To be able to inspire a younger version of myself, I was like, Sign me up!" she says. (And then she promptly did her homework, catching up on all the episodes from the past couple of years.)
Gibson made her name choreographing on today's hottest pop stars like Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé. However, it's not celebrities, but fellow dancers who are her "tribe," as she puts it.
"I'm still a dancer, I'm still a working choreographer. I've danced not just hip hop, but trained in tap, ballet, modern and I've had my little share of ballroom," she says. "Obviously, 'So You Think You Can Dance' is of the dancers, for the dancers. I'm so excited to get to speak directly to my community."
Gibson and Dominic "D-Trix" Sandoval are both new judges this season.
Courtesy of Fox
So what is she looking for in contestants?
"Hunger, passion, humility, work ethic, a love for the art form," she says. "After you do the steps, hit the choreography, there's something about the ability to dance, regardless of the style or choreography, that I'm looking for."
So far, she says she's been shocked by not only how great the talent is, but how hungry the dancers are. "The most challenging thing for me is saying 'No.' But you never really say 'No.' You just say, 'This may not be the time, but keep fighting because there's a time for everyone to see their dreams fulfilled.' "
Her best advice for competitors? "Dance like it's your last day every time you hit that stage."
What happens during a performance is the product of the painstaking process of realizing an artistic vision. Whether held beforehand, afterward, offsite or online, audience discussions tend not to be so preordained, easily thrown off track without a skilled moderator at the helm.
"I'm someone who dreaded talkbacks and Q&As," admits Bill Bragin, former director of public programming at Lincoln Center. "While I was in New York, a lot of the time it was just audience members trying to show off how smart they were."
These events present a pile of difficult questions: How much do you reveal about a piece before it's shown? How can a conversation designed to hit key points feel casual and spontaneous? How do you cater to the needs of diverse attendees, from novice dancegoers to lifelong fans to scholars and critics? And how do you avoid smothering dance with language, flattening all its complexity?
If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.
The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:
Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.
We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.
I dance to encourage others. The longer I dance, the more I see that much of my real work is to speak life-giving words to my fellow artists. This is a multidimensionally grueling profession. I count it a privilege to remind my colleagues of how they are bringing beauty into the world through their craft. I recently noticed significant artistic growth in a fellow dancer, and when I verbalized what I saw, he beamed. The impact of positive feedback is deeper than we realize.