Tuesday, June 12, 2012

When Real Life Begins

I have wonderful news...I got a contract for an apprenticeship with Philadanco! The apprentice company is called D2, and they take class, rehearse, and perform on a regular basis. D2 performs over 25 times a year and the dancers are sometimes included in Philadanco performances. If you've been following my blog, you know that I've seen many Philadanco performances and I always rant and rave about them. Now I get the chance to work and perform with them!

One of the differences between Philadanco and D2 is that Philadanco dancers receive a salary and benefits, while D2 members get paid for performances. Even though I won't be getting a salary, this is my first ever dance job, and I could not be more ecstatic! Dancer's spend their entire lives dedicating themselves to training and practicing for this moment. Every experience up until now has been about paying to train so that eventually you can get paid to dance. I've finally reached that point where it's the start of a career, and it feels so good. It's like spending your whole life in school, and then finally getting a real job. I will not make a living by being in D2, but many dancers in apprentice companies work their way up to the professional company, which is the ultimate goal.

I'm glad that I auditioned for the apprentice company first because I get to continue to enhance my technique, gain more performance experience, and work with professionals, all without paying a tuition. Also, the Philadanco dancers (including D2 and the youth program) are like a tight-knit family. It's almost like the directors and company members are mentors to the other dancers, so they get to know each other very well. If you are already well-known and work hard in D2, you are more likely to get picked for the professional company. They have auditions in January and June, so I plan on auditioning for the professional company after I've had some experience in D2.

The audition experience seemed a lot tougher this year. Mrs. Brown (founder of the company) told us before the audition that they have had some funding cuts and therefore, did not have as many spots available. Despite having less openings, there were just as many dancers in the audition as there were last year. Last year, they never made any cuts, so all of the dancers were included in the entire audition, then at the end they called the numbers that they wanted to keep. There were at least a dozen dancers picked for D2, including myself. This year, they made a large cut after about 40 minutes, then another cut later on. The number of dancers picked for D2 this time was at least half compared to last year, if not less. I feel very fortunate and honored to have a second chance at being a part of this dynamic company.

 Friends Dann, Emily, and I before the audition!

Philadanco is a very traditional and strict company. It is mostly modern based with some ballet. In the auditions, Milton Myers always teaches a Horton class. If you don't know the Horton style, I would describe it as extremely disciplined with linear movements that require a lot of strength. Although that is not the only style that the company does, I would say that it's the foundation. This is a big change from the type of dancing I was doing in New York. I took a lot of jazz, contemporary, and lyrical, since that is what I concentrated in. Those genres are more new and less strict, whereas Philadanco and their style of dance has been around for decades. I believe that every dancer who wants to succeed should train in multiple styles so they become more versatile, so I am excited to see where my work with this company takes me.

Philadanco has a six week summer skills enhancement series for all of the companies. I start on July 9th, and each week focuses on different styles of dance. We have Graham, Ballet, African, Horton, Contemporary/Modern, and Dunham. We will be taking these classes Monday-Friday from 5:30-7. Then D2 and company members stay until 10:30 on Monday-Thursday for rehearsals. Our first show featuring the D2 dancers is in the beginning of September. After the 6 week intensive, we have our fall schedule, which is class Monday-Wednesday from 5:30-7, then rehearsals on Monday night, Wednesday night, and Sunday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. So, with D2 we are dancing four days a week, but we still have time to fit in a work schedule.

Stay tuned to hear more about my experience with this amazing company. I will be posting updates as often as I can! I truly appreciate everyone's genuine excitement and support; it really means a lot to me. I wouldn't want to be doing anything else :)

2 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Congrats! Dancers work so incredibly hard to make their dreams come true. What they (and myself at one point) go through to get what they want never ceases to amaze me. I hope everything goes well for you and you are happy with your job. Good luck!

Kelsey Stenta said...

Thank you so much! I really appreciate the support. I will be posting updates about my experience with the company as I go along. Working towards your dream is definitely a long and continuous journey, but it's always worth it :)