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Student Blog: A Strong Mover's Guide to College Theatre

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For those who, like me, aren't "dancer first"

Student Blog: A Strong Mover's Guide to College Theatre It's every musical theatre actor's dream to become a true triple threat. Being able to sing, act, and dance well not only helps make auditioning, rehearsing, and finally performing a lot easier, but also it is just cool to be that versatile. I, on the other hand, am a strong mover at best - and many directors I've worked with in the past would agree. However, if you're in the same boat as me - you love to dance, but it's not your strongest suit (whether it's due to lack of training or lack of confidence) - don't worry! Not only can you find roles and shows that play to your strengths in acting and/or singing, but you also can always improve your skills. Here are some things I've taken away from both enhancing my dance skills over the past four years, and owning my weak spot in the musical theatre trifecta:

  1. Relax during dance auditions! These were too often the bane of my existence while auditioning for musicals. The pressure of potentially not getting "the part," or a part for that matter, based on my ability to pick up and perform a combination easily made me crack in front of countless panels. What I've found helpful in situations like these is to do some deep breaths, and then re-frame the experience as a performance or first rehearsal - something more enjoyable and less uncertain than an audition. As a result, I've noticed that the auditions I had the most fun doing because I wanted to put on a show were the most successful - no matter how many times I messed up the combo or thought that I looked more awkward than my peers.
  2. Take a dance class in college. Many colleges and universities offer basic and intermediate dance classes to students - regardless of major. Even if you're a total rookie, there are classes aimed to teach technique, terminology, and basic dance etiquette. The added bonus of taking dance on campus is that the vast majority of your classmates will be in both your age and skill group. Oh, and having it included in tuition doesn't hurt! I took a jazz class and was planning on taking another pre-COVID, and the experience really helped solidify things I hadn't been trained in in over a decade. I felt more confident to pick up and repeat choreography, as well as more comfortable in my skin in general - and brushing up on technique helped astronomically.
  3. Use online resources. While the pandemic put a devastating end to my in-person college performance career, the excess of free time (and jazz class assignments, in my experience) led me to free or reduced-cost classes online. Whether you prefer live Zoom classes or pre-recorded YouTube videos, many artists and teachers have classes of all genres and levels on the Internet. A great deal of these classes also included warm-ups and conditioning, so you can not only get stronger at dancing regardless of skill level, but also feel physically stronger. It's not an exact substitute for a studio, but practice makes perfect in any form. Plus, it releases endorphins - right in the comfort of home.
  4. Ask peers for help. Every single time I approached a dance captain (or in some cases, the choreographer themselves) for clarification during a free moment of rehearsal or scheduled time, I felt so much better about getting one-on-one assistance. I used to find this intimidating, because it leaves you vulnerable to having personalized corrections, but the reward of nailing a combination or tricky spot is well worth the build-up of courage I needed to put myself out there. It made whatever choreo I was doing stay with me, and it helps everyone in the cast when everyone feels and performs to the best of their ability.
  5. Take it all in! Despite my strengths in acting and singing - and weakness in dance - I learned how to have the most fun at dance rehearsals. Every time I would walk into a rehearsal, I tried to think of it as a learning opportunity, surrounded by people who wanted to see me succeed. Dancing is meant to be fun and freeing first and foremost, so trying to erase all of my notions of perfection and submitting to the music and story of the show brings me back to why I love musical theatre in the first place. I would recommend to enjoy every minute, even if you aren't picking things up as quickly as you'd like, because the process of doing a show goes by too quickly!

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From This Author Student Blogger: Alexandra Curnyn