James Alsop has choreographed for stars from Beyoncé to Janelle Monae. Photo via Facebook

This Beyoncé Choreographer Has the Most Relatable Cross-Training Routine

Even if you haven't heard her name, you've almost certainly seen the work of commercial choreographer James Alsop. Though she's made award-winning dances for Beyoncé ("Run the World," anyone?) and worked with stars like Lady GaGa and Janelle Monae, Alsop's most recent project may be her most powerful: A moving music video for Everytown for Gun Safety, directed by Ezra Hurwitz and featuring students from the National Dance Institute.

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We caught up with Alsop for our "Spotlight" series:


What do you think is the most common misconception about dancers?

That we are not athletes. I think because there is this beauty, grace and poise that comes along with dance, some people still try to discount the fact that we train ruthlessly. It would be great to see the art of dance respected equally.

What other career would you like to try?

Acting. I can't see myself doing something unrelated to performance. Performing is too deep in my blood.

What's the most-played song on your phone?

"Made For Now" by Janet Jackson

What was the last dance performance you saw?

A hip-hop competition in Boston called Bring Da Hype. It was so edgy and all the dancers were so raw and hungry. My love for dance was reinvigorated by the youth of it.

Do you have a pre-performance ritual?

Close my eyes and whisper the most intimate prayer.

Where can you be found two hours after a performance ends?

Trying to find music to keep dancing. The high from being on stage is still so strong that I have to keep it going.

What's your favorite book?

Terry McMillan's A Day Late and A Dollar Short. I have probably read it 6000 times.

Where did you last vacation?

My favorite place on Earth: San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Who is the person you most want to dance with—living or dead?

Janet Jackson, Debbie Allen and Bob Fosse.

What app do you spend the most time on?


Much like the rest of the world, I unfortunately spend the most time on Instagram. It's literally tantalizing. I'm addicted.

What's the first item on your bucket list?

To buy something major or pay a huge bill off for my parents. I owe them everything.

What's your go-to cross-training routine?

I am the absolute worst and have never cross-trained in my entire life. I have never even had a gym membership. So my routine is trying my hardest to avoid the Taco Bell drive-thru!

If you could relive one performance, what would it be?

The 2011 Billboard Music Awards performance of "Run The World" by Beyoncé. It was the first time I got to work on an awards show as a choreographer and I learned so much by being a part of such a huge performance.

What's the worst advice you've ever received?

I don't think I have ever received any bad advice. I can't remember a time when someone tried to help and it not be for my benefit.

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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.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
July 2021