EXTENSION the real world Treeline Dance shares their stories
This is a Ball State University magazine design class project, created fall semester 2012.
E X T E N Smagazine ION Volume 1. Issue 1. May 2012
editor-in-chief Lindsey Gelwicks
Class of Journ 323
emotional support Katelin Carter
CONTENTS Prepare 6
Four ways to stand out at your first dance audition Auditions incorporate more on the spot techniques
AT THE BARRE
Simple ballet lessons for the classroom
A look into the creation of a dance studio
Sugar and Bruno features their newest collection
UP AND COMER Blake Scheidenberger shares his future goals
New York dance company tells their real world experiences
from the To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. ~Agnes De Mille
editor When somebody asks a dancer when they first began dancing, most of them reply with some sort of magical experience. They watched their older sibling dance and knew they wanted to follow in their footsteps. Or they walked into a dance studio and it felt like home. Or they danced around the house so often that their parents put them in class to burn off the extra energy. I don’t have a story like that. I can’t remember the first time I went to dance class. I think my mom signed me up because all the other moms were doing it at the time. The only thing I remember about my first recital was that we weren’t in tutus and all the moms were disappointed. But just because I don’t remember my first steps in the studio doesn’t mean the experience hasn’t been as magical. Dance has been there my whole life. It’s like a family; even when I hated it, it was still there. When I moved halfway across the country in sixth grade, dance was still there. When I got to college, dance stayed. Even though I know I’m not the best and won’t make a career of being on stage, dance is still apart of my life. I chose to combine with my journalism experience But just because I didn’t choose to go the onstage route doesn’t mean others like yourself haven’t. This is where Extension Magazine comes in. College is a hectic time. We’re learning so much, so fast. And before we know it, we’re out in the real world searching for jobs, trying to stay afloat financially while fulfilling our need to dance at the same time. As you head towards your dreams, whether it be as a professional ballerina, modern dancer or studio teacher, let this magazine be your guide.
For the best in theatre makeup choose...
what to expect at
your first audition We’ve all seen A Chorus Line - hundreds of doe-eyed hopefuls auditioning for eight spots in a show. Real life auditions are the same. Not everybody can make the cast but here are some tips to help you put your best foot forward.
// By Lindsey Gelwicks //
Be prepared Check the application carefully, and follow every requirement. It will tell you whether you need to bring a headshot, a body shot, or both. You may need a resume or the audition may even require a fee. Some auditions have a dress code. Follow it! If there isn’t one, then keep it simple, but stand out. Don’t be afraid to wear a bright color, just make sure that you a comfortable in whatever you are wearing.
arrive on time If you’re early, you’re on time. And if you’re on time, you’re late. Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before the audition begins, maybe even earlier. Use that time to check out the surroundings if you’re at an unfamiliar location. And of course take time to properly warm up!
stand in front During the audition try to grab a spot in the front of the room. Not only does this make it easier to see the instructor and pick up choreography, but it also makes it easier for the judges to see you. Standing in the front also shows the judges that you are confident. Those who stand in the back of the room tend to be followers and rely on the front row of dancers to guide them through combinations. Show the directors that you have initiative, and you will be more likely to be hired
Ask questions If you are unsure about a combination or a step, don’t be afraid to ask questions. It shows the judges that you want to do your best. Asking for clarification is never a sign of weakness. But make sure you are paying attention. Instructors will get frustrated if you ask a question that somebody just asked.
on the spot
// By Jennifer Stahl //
Artistic directors and dancers share tips on how to improv during an audition he assignment sounds easy enough: For 60 seconds, all you have to do is “show what you’ve got.” Anything goes. It’s just a quick minute of improvisation. Nothing you do, technically, can be “wrong.” Yet the infinite possibilities can feel paralyzing. You may have spent hours in classes following cues to initiate movement from your lowermost left rib, to pretend like you’re painting the air, to dance like a cucumber. But in an audition, nerves don’t always permit the kind of creativity needed to come up with interesting movement on the spot. You’re exposed, and vulnerable, and in front of people who are deciding whether to hire you. Not exactly an ideal setting for artistic inspiration. This ordeal is no longer reserved for the downtown modern dance world. Broadway productions and even contemporary-leaning ballet companies now use improv as an audition tool— whether or not the dancers will actually need to improvise once they get the job. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago artistic director Glenn Edgerton explains that it’s about more than testing improvisational skills: “You immediately see dancers’ individual movement qualities—what comes out of them is them.” When dancers don’t have someone else’s steps to reproduce, they reveal their own organic (or habitual) movement patterns: how they attack movement, how they go off balance and recover, how they phrase transitions, and the speed and size in which they like to move. If you’ve never improvised before, an audition setting is not the best environment to try it out. To be prepared, seek out improv jams, try contact improv, take classes in Gaga or William Forsythe’s improvisation technique. You can even book time in an empty studio just to let yourself play while no one is watching. Find where your comfort zone ends and the nerves kick in—and how to push past that threshold. Every audition has different expectations. Improv can be a time to make creative
movement choices, or an invitation to show off your switch splits and quadruple pirouettes. Do some YouTube research on a company before the audition, so you can think about what aspects of your style to highlight—and what to keep in check. “When someone starts doing all their tricks,” says Edgerton, “I know they don’t really understand what Hubbard Street’s about.” But how do you get past the feeling of being completely naked out there? Dominic Walsh, artistic director of Dominic Walsh Dance Theater in Houston, suggests shutting your eyes. “I swear, it’ll automatically improve your improvisation by 20 percent,” he says. The strategy forces you to become more introspective, and to explore the sensations within the movement. If you still feel out of your element when you step into the audition studio, fake it. No matter whether they want tricks or ingenuity, every director will be watching your confidence level. How game are you to jump into the snake pit? “Show some gumption,” Edgerton says. “Dancers need to be willing to approach challenges they’re not comfortable with.” He watches to see who has courage even when they have no clue what to do. When Armstead-Williams auditioned for Bill T. Jones’ Super Fly, she was asked to improvise in tap—not her forte; she had only a few classes under her belt. “I could have said ‘I’m screwed’ and left,” she says. “Instead, I looked him right in the face and just started stomping. I got cast and the first day of the workshop, they said, ‘So, Penelope, you’ll do this part because you can tap.’ I was like, ‘Whoa, you thought I could tap?!’ Sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind.”
This article is from the February 2012 issue of Dance Magazine, retrieved from http://dancemagazine.com/issues/February-2012/2012-Auditions-Guide-On-the-Spot.
lesson plan guide:
Ballet barre New to teaching a class? Or maybe you’re just tired of teaching the same old exercises day after day. Try some of these exercises or use them as starting points for your own combinations. // By Lindsey Gelwicks //
tendu counts 1-4 5-8 1-8 1-8 1-4 5-8
1 tendu devant (1-2); 2 tendu devant (&3&4) temps lié, close first reverse
repeat à la seconde
relevé in first (away from barre) chassé back into barre, 2 tendu à la seconde
degage counts 1-6
7-8 1-8 1-5 6-8
3 en cloche beginning devant (3x) dégagé à la seconde, close 5th derrière 1 degagé en croix (x2) plié, retiré balance
fondu coupé dessus, dégagé a la seconde
4 frappés devant
double frappé en croix
petit battement extend coupé dessus, pas de bourrée
the art of
starting a studio
// By Lindsey Gelwicks //
Young girls wander into the studio in fresh pink tights and brand new ballet shoes. They’re eager to start the first day as they line up next to the bar. Thirty years ago this was Annette Pettigrew’s dream. Now it’s a reality as she teaches class at her own Village Dance Studio. he phone rang in Annette Pettigrew’s Carmel, Ind., apartment. “Hello?” she said, picking up the phone. “Hi. Is this the Village Dance Studio?” replied the woman’s voice on the other end. Pettigrew paused for a moment. ”Village Dance Studio?” she thought to herself. She still was not used to hearing the name of her business spoken aloud. Until now it had been a vision inside her head. “Oh yes,” Pettigrew finally replied. “It is. This is the Village Dance Studio.” And with that, Pettigrew gained her first customer. Pettigrew was eight years old when she told her father she wanted to run her own dance studio one day. It started as a vision. In her mind she could visualize exactly where the barres and the mirrors would be placed. She saw the dressing room where the girls would keep their bags filled with dance shoes. During the next 18 years, everything she did focused on that goal. She took extra classes, went to seminars and kept all her notes on combinations. In the mid-1970s, Pettigrew was working as a
Tips of the trade 1
Find a good support system in family and friends.
Know a good accountant, attorny and insurance agent.
Keep educating yourself on dance. You can never know too much.
dance teacher at a studio in Carmel. As she got more frustrated with the way the director was running the studio, she decided it was time to open her own. “Later on every decision I made I’d think, ‘How would this lady do it?’” Pettigrew said. “And I’d do the opposite because she ran it so poorly I thought.” But with any bad job comes a learning experience, Pettigrew says. After leaving the job, she only had a short amount of time to make her dreams come true. Taking out a $1000 loan on her life insurance policy, Pettigrew began the plans for opening her dance studio. With an insurance agent, her neighbor as her accountant, her father-in-law as her lawyer and her husband by her side, Pettigrew had the support she needed. Renting out a second-story room for only 50 cents per student in downtown Zionsville, Ind., Pettigrew, her husband and her brother-in-law began renovations. The building did not have any central heating or cooling and the children would have to go outside and around the corner to use the public restrooms, but with its high ceilings, Pettigrew could picture her dance studio. The room had not been cleaned in nearly 10 years. Cobwebs hung from the ceiling, paint was chipping from the walls and the piano was old and missing keys. They stayed up until 2 a.m. each night cleaning, painting, adding flooring, building barres and putting up mirrors, which were plastic and slightly wavy since she did not have the money for real ones. Although the work was strenuous, they still had their share of fun. Pettigrew remembers one night after they had finished flooring that they had extra pieces of plywood and the carpet foam used underneath. They laid the plywood sheets on the long staircase and slid down on the foam pads out into the empty streets of Zionsville. “Could you see me doing that now?” Pettigrew says with a chuckle. Even though she was trained in ballet at Indiana University, Pettigrew did not have a background in
Annette Pettigrew leads a class of 8-year-olds in a pointing and flexing exercise. business administration. Even so, 76 students enrolled the first year her studio was open, which was more than she ever imagined. “It was a rough first year but all the money I made that first year I used to go to the National Ballet School of Canada and take more classes,” she said. “Any profit did not come to me personally.” The next several years followed similarly. Pettigrew and her husband lived off his paycheck, while any money she made went right back into the studio to buy new flooring, new mirrors and eventually add more teachers. After three years, she updated to another building in the Zionsville Village, this time with heating cooling, a bathroom and a changing room for the girls. After another three years, they moved to again and finally began to expand into a multi-room dance studio. Fifteen years later, after growing to over 200 students and needing more space, Pettigrew found a group of people wanting to build a gym. She joined them, designing the upstairs into the studio she still runs today. Now she has nearly 300 students who take a variety of classes such as ballet, modern, tap, jazz and many more. While she can give you the exact number of students she had in the beginning, she doesn’t look at numbers that way anymore. “It’s not relevant to anything. I used to think that was success if I had more students but I haven’t done that for 10 years,” she says. “[My success] really has to do with each student and how they go on in their life and how they have taken whatever we can give them be it one year of classes or 10 years of classes.”
One of the main pieces of advice Pettigrew offers to aspiring business owners is to keep a budget. She kept her business running by being smart about her spending. It’s about the dancing, she says, not how nice the chairs in the waiting room look. Her daughter Traci, a graduating senior at Indiana University, has grown up seeing the time and effort Pettigrew put into her studio. Although one of the most challenging parts of running a studio is dealing with some of the opinions of overbearing parents, Pettigrew handles it with the grace of a ballerina. “It doesn’t really matter what your day has been like,” Traci said “If you own a business you have to act like you have it all together. She’ll have rough days but she’ll look like her head’s on straight.” And even though she says she tries not to, oftentimes Pettigrew’s work follows her home, especially during a recital year. Every other year during the months of March, April and May, the family keeps a running joke on Pettigrew’s nightmares about the recital. Yet, each time the recital is a success. “She cares so much because she loves what she does,” Traci said. “Her work ethic is fueled by the amount that she cares and how much she enjoys what she does, which is why she works all the time at home.” While Pettigrew has seen her vision of owning a dance studio turn into a reality, she has not yet seen a clear vision for the future of the studio. Not knowing when she will retire, Pettigrew will continue doing what she loves: teaching girls the art of dance.
WORLD The Treeline Dance Works company shares experiences in the real world of dance.
by Lindsey Gelwicks photos by Katelin Carter
ess Reidy had a vision for exactly how her life would go when she first began to pursue dance at a young age. She saw herself auditioning for and performing with an already established company. But her vision changed when she entered college. Instead of simply learning repertoire, Reidy discovered she loved creating it. The creative process of forming her own works and pieces called to her. Jenny Showalter, on the other hand, began dancing later than most who pursue it as a career. The Aurora, Ill., native was involved from gymnastics from a young age, but it wasnâ€™t until high school that she discovered she had a knack for choreography. Not only did she begin choreographing her own gymnastics routines, but she joined her high schoolâ€™s pom squad and helped create their dances too. That was when she realized her dream was to travel and get paid to choreograph dances.
Now, Reidy and Showalter both spend their time dancing for Treeline Dance Works, a modern dance company based in New York City and Chicago. Treeline Dance Works began as a collaborative effort between Showalter and Lyndsay Vader, another dancer that she met at The College at Brockport: State University of New York. Over the course of their graduate studies they formulated the idea for creating their own dance company. In November 2009, their dream became a reality as Treeline Dance Works, a four-member company at that time, hit the stage at its first dance festival. “I feel like we had talked about having this company for so long and then our first performance really solidified the fact that we could do it and that we enjoyed being in each other’s company and that we could push each other and be encouraging to each other,” Showalter says looking back on that moment. “So it was sort of about all these different emotions, not just about the choreography but about how we work as a team.” As co-directors, Vader and Showalter vowed to enter their choreography in at least one festival a month. For nine months, they kept their goal, and the young company performed in one or two shows a month. Since it was first established three years ago, Treeline Dance Works, which has now grown to seven dancers, has gotten well off its feet and travelled all over the United States and even Paris to perform. But they still face the same challenges that dancers all across the nation face – living in the world of dance and living in the real world. National averages show that dancers can earn anywhere between $6 an hour to over $25 an hour depending on their skill level and the type of production. This rate can include rehearsal time, performance time and even class time for company performers. This is not the case for smaller, emerging companies such as Treeline. Reidy says that rehearsals for the company are unpaid. For performances she has been paid anywhere from $20 to $100 depending on location, time commitment and if the venue or festival pays the company anything. On Showalter’s end of things as a co-director, it’s a bit more expensive. She is the one who has to pay the dancers and application fees for gigs. In addition, she must cover any travel expenses as well. “The biggest surprise was learning that I’d have to have multiple jobs to support a career in dance,” Showalter says. Showalter also dances with Bill Evans Dance Company, teaches dance part time at two colleges and teaches Pilates. Reidy also dances with areaDANCE and has begun creating some of her own work. She supports herself mostly through a
job personal training. She also has two internships doing development work and fundraising for StoryCorps and a New York City band called HUFF THIS. The most expensive part of dancing is the time commitment, Reidy says. She has to devote several hours a week to unpaid rehearsals and still try to get to dance classes every week. It chips away at a lot of time that would otherwise be devoted to paying jobs. But she wouldn’t change a thing she says. “To be perfectly honest I was surprised to feel like I’m doing all right!” Reidy says, referring to balance dance in the real world. “I prepared myself to expect years of auditioning and waitress jobs, but because I made some great relationships in school, I have been blessed to work with people I respect and believe in and to maintain jobs that are flexible and fulfilling.”
Although, sometimes it may be hard to maintain a dance career, both Showalter and Reidy love what they do. Showalter’s movement is constantly evolving and it says it gives her the chance to explore more of who she is. Reidy says if she hasn’t danced in awhile she feels antsy and shorttempered. Dance has become a full part of their lives. And if things don’t turn out the way you expect, don’t give up, they say. “Be prepared to be patient. Enjoy the journey,” Reidy says. “Easier said than done of course. I often get frustrated with the difficulty of holding down a flexible job, 15-hour work/rehearsal days and living paycheck to paycheck. But once and a while you just have to give yourself a mental smack and remember how awesome it is that you’re pursuing a dance career. Seriously, it doesn’t get much cooler than that!”
“Be prepared to be patient, enjoy the journey.” - Jess Reidy
a spoonful of
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Meet Blake Scheidenberger, a 21-yearold dancer from Muncie, Ind., working hard to make his dreams come true. Besides teaching and choreographing at a local studio, he also travels and assists a contemporary choreographer.
Q: A: Q: A: 24
How did you get involved in dance? I started dancing at age 6 in Muncie, Ind. My parents put my sisters and I in tap and jazz classes. After a few weeks my sisters hated it so much, so my parents took us all out. But I loved it so much and begged to be put back in classes and have danced ever since! What are your ultimate goals in the dance world? I want to inspire and move people. To change the view of dance from just tutus and tights to a more intellectual and creative, emotional art form and feeling that everyone can relate to. What advice would you give aspiring dancers? Set goals and dream and fight for them. The first â€œnoâ€? is not the final answer!
E X T E N Smagazine ION