Preparing yourself for life as a professional dancer can be a daunting task. Worse yet, it is often difficult to find solid advice about how to navigate through the transition from student to professional–and what is expected of you can vary a great deal from company to company.
Enter Trey McIntyre and the #DancerResource project.
Trey McIntyre is a well-known figure in the dance world, and he is also the creator and curator of an amazing resource for dancers that taps professionals in the field to share their expertise and knowledge. We reached out to Trey to learn more about how this all got started and who is involved, and he shared some information about this exciting new resource with us in the interview below…
Enjoy! And please do share this series with any young dancers you know.
What exactly is the #DancerResource project?
The #DancerResource project is a collection of essays, letters, and videos from Artistic Directors, Choreographers, and dancers responding to the questions from young dancers about how to best be preparing themselves to both get into the company that they want to be in and how to navigate the transition in becoming a professional dancer.
Can you talk a bit about where the idea for this series came from?
I taught a class at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in December during their Intensive Arts session about the transition of becoming a professional. I was struck by how much fear and lack of knowledge surrounded the process of approaching a company. Every Artistic Director is different and the students felt like they had one shot at getting it right, but felt at a disadvantage with a lack of specific information. One of the students had a question about how to go to New York and freelance, so I reached out to one of my former dancers, Chanel DaSilva, who is doing that very thing. She responded with a thorough, insightful, and loving letter to the dancers that they were thrilled to get. This gave me the idea that I should just reach out to directors and ask the questions that these students wanted to know the answers to.
Who are some of the people that have participated in this project thus far?
We began with David Hallberg. I have known David since creating a work on him at American Ballet Theatre and have always found him to be a person of great character–and even though he maintains a position of great prestige, he operates with such dignity and humility. I thought that would be a great perspective to include and I was right. His entry is beautiful. I’ve tried to make the responses as varied as possible. Large and small companies. Contemporary to classical companies. People at different stages in their career. Sidra Bell just contributed a great video. Lar Lubovitch, San Francisco Ballet, The Bad Boys of Dance.
How did you decide who you were going to reach out to, and how has the response been?
I’ve mostly reached out to people that I know personally, but made some cold calls too, especially to people that students from my UNCSA class wanted to hear from. Almost everyone has been thrilled to be a part of it and agrees that there is a need for this information.
Why do you think this type of information is valuable, and who is the series geared toward?
The series is geared toward students who are looking toward a professional career. I’ve often been struck by how few schools, dance or otherwise, provide real-world training in the nitty-gritty. They may give excellent technical training, but how do you actually adapt your thinking to the professional world to have a successful career? My hope is that these candid perspectives add some information to make that more possible.
How long do you envision continuing this project?
For as long as there are people who have things to say.
Where can people find the previous installments, and how often do you post them?
All of the installments are on the TMP Facebook page and we release a new one every Wednesday. Sometimes we do more and especially now that we are in audition season. (Editor’s note: You can also find the series archived on the Trey McIntyre Project’s website.)
Who do you have in the upcoming lineup?
Entries coming up include River North Dance Chicago, Jonathan Jordan from The Washington Ballet, and a primer on freelance work in NY from dancer Tobin Del Coure.
Trey McIntyre was born in Wichita, Kansas, and trained at North Carolina School of the Arts and Houston Ballet Academy. At Houston Ballet, he was appointed Choreographic Apprentice in 1989 and then, in 1995, he became the company’s Choreographic Associate. He has created more than 100 works for companies such as New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Stuttgart Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Pennsylvania Ballet and founded his own company, Trey McIntyre Project, in 2005. McIntyre’s work has been featured in The New York Times, Dance Magazine, PBS NewsHour, People Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, and many others. He is also a filmmaker and photographer, currently working on a documentary and collection of photos, while continuing to work with companies all over the world.
by Rachel Malehorn
Dancers who join classical ballet companies will be a part of the centuries-old tradition of the full-length ballet. These evening-long works not only showcase the brilliance of classical ballet technique, but also set this dancing in a dramatic context with the goal of telling a story. Even an audience member who has no background or understanding of dance can get lost in these stories, and can leave the theater transformed. Dancers spend years of their lives endeavoring to perfect their technique, but sometimes their power as actors and actresses can be overlooked or de-emphasized. The stories our ballets tell are magical, fantastic, romantic, tragic, and sometimes difficult. Throughout my career as a dancer, I have come to love and look forward to the dual opportunity to dance with accuracy—and also to convey the drama of these stories.
As Milwaukee Ballet prepares for its upcoming performances, I have been meditating on two important themes: the process wherein dancers and choreographers communicate the story of a full-length ballet, and the importance of telling these stories—even if they don’t always have happy endings. Romeo & Juliet, Manon, Onegin, Madame Butterfly, and even La Bayadere are classic tales of thwarted love, in which the tragic heroines suffer death or disaster as the price of their love.
But perhaps the epitome of the tragic ballet is Giselle, created in Paris at the peak of Romanticism. In this story, Giselle, a peasant girl, is wooed by Albrecht, an aristocrat in peasant disguise, but is driven to madness and death by the discovery that Albrecht is already engaged to be married to Bathilde, also an aristocrat. When Albrecht visits Giselle’s grave to beg for forgiveness, the Wilis – ghosts of other girls who have died of broken hearts – compel Albrecht to dance himself to death, but Giselle (seemingly inexplicably, and most definitely tragically) saves Albrecht from death and forgives him for his betrayal. At its core, Giselle is chilling, heartbreaking, and achingly beautiful.
Michael Pink’s Giselle
by Andrea Thompson
After a whirlwind tour of three central European countries in late February and early March, regular 4dancers contributor and Hubbard Street 2 Dancer Andrea Thompson found a quiet spot and answered some questions about the experience.
Where did you go?
We flew into Frankfurt and drove around Germany to perform in Rüsselsheim, Landau, Aschaffenburg, Idar-Oberstein and Essen. After that we drove across the border to Heerlen in the Netherlands, and then flew to our last stop in Treviso, Italy.
How long did you stay in each city?
Just long enough to arrive and sometimes have a workshop that day, then tech and perform the following day. We stayed longer in Rüsselsheim because we had an acclimation day there when we landed, and we had a day off in Landau as well.
What was a typical day on tour like?0
by Karen Musey
What matters more in a competitive piece – difficulty or execution?
I feel this quandary plagues a lot of competitive teams and dancers. A competing studio’s dancer executes a new “trick” successfully onstage and suddenly the bar of what is considering ranking in an age category jumps up. The pressure to stay current with the bar of excellence is then set, so obviously you need to start pushing yourself to do stuff you can’t do yet.
There’s nothing quite like watching a performance of Swan Lake, especially when it is danced beautifully. Tonight, The Royal Ballet will perform this historic ballet on cinema screens across the nation. We are delighted to be able to share some of the beautiful imagery with you here as a “sneak preview” of what is to come…
If you are interested in seeing this production, you can find tickets here.
Disclosure: 4dancers accepts compensation to promote this series.0
by Catherine L. Tully
I typically don’t write too many personalized posts on this site, but today will be an exception–because today I’d like to share an inspiring story that has to do with dance. Today I’d like to talk about the upcoming season of Dancing With The Stars, but more specifically, about Noah Galloway.
Noah first came to my attention in November of 2014 when he won the Men’s Health magazine contest for the “Ultimate Men’s Health Guy” and graced the cover. This marked the first time an amputee had ever done so. You see, Noah is a US Army veteran that lost part of his left arm and left leg in a Humvee accident in Iraq.
And now he’s going to dance.
I think that his story is remarkable, not just because he rose above his injuries, but because he battled through a dark time first. He somehow dug deep and found the strength to go on after it seemed he had given up. He had been discouraged and depressed, and yet here he is…on television…dancing.
Noah has served as an inspiration to many people, including me. I have an autographed copy of Men’s Health in my office with the words “No Excuses!” scrawled across the cover in silver–a message that reminds me to steel my reserve and keep going when things get tough.
After all, if he can do it–I certainly can.
We reached out to Noah and asked him a few questions about his upcoming dancing debut. He was kind enough to share a few thoughts with us here…
When you were contacted by Dancing With The Stars, how did you feel about signing on?
My first thought was why not? I like challenging myself. This is nothing I would have considered if it wasn’t brought to my attention. It’s definitely going to be a challenge worth accepting.
Did you have any prior dance experience?
None. At all.
Tell us about your partner and what she brings to the partnership…
An open mind. In the short time I’ve known her, I see in her the same mentality I have. Here’s an obstacle, how are we going to get around it – instead of being intimidated by it.
What has it been like to rehearse for this show?
Interesting, new and fun.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced during this process?
Everything I’ve done in the past has been physical challenges. I’ve never had to perform and that has been the greatest struggle.
Do you view dancers any differently now because of your experience with DWTS?
No, I’ve always had respect for dancers and how hard they work and how dedicated they are. I’ve always been impressed with what dancers have always been able to do, but never saw myself as being able to do the same.
What has been the most rewarding part about this process?
I’m actually learning how to dance. I’m also hoping to make my kids proud.
You can see Noah Galloway and his partner Sharna compete on ABC Monday nights at 8/7 C. Follow them online or tweet about the performance using the hashtag #TeamShway.
You can also follow Noah on Facebook.0
by Jan Dunn, MS
Aloha to All!
In this article, the first of a two-parter, I’d like to share a foot warm-up that comes from the Franklin Method. I learned this many years ago, from Eric Franklin, and it has been a part of my daily warm-up ever since. I have taught it to dancers (and non-dancers!) in many workshops / classes, such as for the national touring company of “A Chorus Line” – and the response has always been….”wow, I love this – thank you for teaching it to us!” I thought that since 4dancers has been highlighting feet this month, I would do an article for you describing this sequence.
This is most beneficial done before you do a class / rehearsal / performance, or even first thing in the morning when you get up. It does a lot more than just warm-up the feet, as I hope you will see as you do it along with me…
Before starting, take a quiet moment to “tune in” to how your body feels, especially your feet. Just stand comfortably, weight on both feet, and notice. There is no right / wrong, good / bad — it’s just a moment to see how your body is feeling overall, and your feet as well. (Think of it as a “pre-test”!)
1 – Massage: take just one Franklin Ball (I will discuss the balls at the end of this article), and put one foot on it. Gently roll your foot back and forth on the ball, giving the sole of your foot a nice massage. How much pressure you put on the ball is up to you, and how long you do it is also individual — your body will tell you “OK, that’s enough”. It should feel good — no pain or discomfort, please!
2 – Forefoot Rotation – Put your forefoot on the ball, heel braced on the ground (heel stays on the ground throughout) – inwardly then outwardly rotate your foot, reaching first the little toe / then the big toe down towards the ground. Your knee / hip will move with the foot — only go as far as comfortable in each direction. I usually do about 5-6 on each side. With this movement, you are getting lots of movement going in the various joints in the foot (all 33 of them!), as well as the ankle / knee / hip.
3 – Vary the inward / outward foot rolling so that now the toes are coming up and away from the floor – I like to imagine that the floor is hot, and I have to reach my big toe / little toe up to the ceiling to get away from it. So it’s still an inward / outward rotation, but is different from the toes down version.2