As I walked into one of Pace University’s large dance studio spaces, about half of the 87 students were in the midst of a battement exercise at center. “Front, front! Side, side — really plié! Don’t dance under yourselves,” guest teacher Troy Powell, Artistic Director of Ailey II, encouragingly yelled to his students, speaking over the raging drums, maraca, and piano that accompanied his class. It was early into the session, but his students, aged fourteen to eighteen, smiled as they sweat, knowing that the training and education they were receiving was coming from one of the country’s most elite dancers and teachers.
Photo Credit: NYCDA
New York City Dance Alliance’s Summer Intensive isn’t your typical summer program. Each student attending had to apply and audition to get in, and every day of the two week program students are subject to rigorous ballet, modern, and contemporary dance classes with some of New York’s top dancers. Instructors from all over the City— institutions like American Ballet Theatre, Alvin Ailley, Broadway, and more— can be found roaming the studio halls on a daily basis. A stand out opportunity, specific to this program, is that students are provided workshops in vocal technique. These singing classes give student dancers the chance to hear their own voice, sing in an ensemble, and build vocal confidence to take back home.
Photo Credit: NYCDA
Because of the proximity to the Great White Way, one huge benefit these students receive is the chance to learn from some of Broadway’s hottest players. Technique and audition workshops with professionals like Dance Captain Natalie Caruncho of Broadway’s On Your Feet, NYC Dance Alliance alum Cameron Adams of Hello, Dolly!, or even a Hamilton workshop with Andy Blankenbuehler himself all fill the schedule of events for students. Dancers get a chance to learn relevant choreography from the professionals molding the contemporary art form, all in an educational environment.
The Summer Intensive, however, is just one of the non-stop year round events New York City Dance Alliance holds. With a primary focus on dance education, New York City Dance Alliance travels to twenty-four different cities throughout the months of October through May holding dance competitions. The goal being to bring the cutting edge of New York City dance to the rest of the country.
“We wanted to remake the industry, but with a New York perspective,” Managing Director Leah Brandon told Dance Network. The competition series that travels around the United States culminates into two New York City based events: The Summer Intensive and The National Season Finale. At the National Season Finale, students who ranked toward the top in their hometown competition, are invited to compete on a national level against other high ranking dancers in a cumulative competition in New York City. Students vie for special recognition, prize money, and awards as the best in their age brackets, get the chance to audition for talent and casting agents, and take workshops and seminars from New York City professionals.
Photo Credit: NYCDA
New York City Dance Alliance also has an affiliated non-profit foundation dedicated to providing college scholarships to dancers at the New York City National Season Finale. Students, separate from the competitors, can apply and audition not only for these scholarships but also for the faculty from partnering colleges and universities. Last season, graduating high school senior participants were awarded over 250 thousand dollars in scholarship funds, and over seven million dollars in prospective funding were offered to juniors and underclass students.
By bringing the cutting edge of New York City’s dance world directly to the next generation, NYCDA is changing the game. By taking competition dance and fusing it with an educational foundation, with the added bonus of scholarship opportunities and the chance to hear from those shaping the current landscape, these students are being set up for the utmost success.
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