8 dancers, 1 dance mom and 1 dance teacher. Nine days in New York City.
New York City Dance Alliance (NYCDA) Nationals in July 2019 was a whirlwind that pushed dancers outside their comfort zones and changed their perspectives.
“This event helps dancers mature and see the possibilities,” Ms. Lindsey explains. “Just Dance! attends a lot of different events, but there’s just something special about being in New York City’s dance community. It really is life changing.”
“After this trip, dancing professionally in NYC isn’t so far-fetched,” says Senior Company Member Justice Wooden. “I was surprised, but I loved the Broadway audition for ‘Kiss Me Kate.’ I could see myself living in New York.”
The preparation started long before they arrived in New York. And not just on the dance floor. Ms. Lindsey met with dancers and parents consistently, to ensure everyone understood the expectations and challenges that accompany traveling in a group without a parent.
Ms. Lindsey talked about the adaptability required when traveling with a large group – being fair about sleeping arrangements and flexible on restaurants. Without parents along, the dancers are responsible for their things and behavior. Before the trip, parents needed to figure out how their child was going to pay for anything needed. Ms. Lindsey also required every dancer to lead the group around NYC one day. If a dancer got separated from the group, he/she needed to be able to get back to the hotel.
Preparation also took place inside the studio. Outstanding Dancers were required to have two solos, so that meant extra hours learning new choreography. A junior small group (Braid) was also adapted so the dancers attending NYCDA could perform. All Charleston Dance Center faculty set the expectation for how to take class at an event this size.
In the Moment
The NYCDA Nationals schedule is intense. There are hours of workshops and auditions each day, along with competition. But, it was worth it.
“I loved being surrounded by so many talented boys,” Justice says. “And the faculty really cared about each dancer. There were so many dancers there, but the faculty tried to get to know everyone.”
Justice placed 20th for his solo and 15th in the Outstanding Dancer competition.
Lana Baird placed 13th overall for her solo and “Braid” placed 16th overall for junior groups.
In their downtime, dancers went shopping and checked out the sights in NYC. They also visited Just Dance! Alum Abby Haynes, now a freshman at NYU.
“It was really cool to see NYU from a student’s perspective,” says Ms. Lindsey. “It gave the younger dancers the chance to see what is possible. And I was so proud to see her in her element.”
It was just two short years ago that Abby attended NYCDA Nationals with Ms. Lindsey and other Just Dance! company members. Read about that trip.
NYCDA Nationals is life-changing for dancers. Lana and Leilah Baird have attended several years and their mom says it has changed how they dance.
The talent level is so high and the difficulty of the schedule makes going back to regular convention weekends seem more intimate and not as stressful.
“NYCDA Nationals taught me how to take class,” Justice explains. “From now on, when I go to convention classes, I will push myself harder to take the classes and use what I learned at nationals to make myself better.”
Ms. Lindsey explains, “What sets NYCDA apart is their connections to the dance world in New York. Auditions, extra workshops and industry faculty make this a real-world experience. Just the fact that our dancers had the opportunity to take classes at STEPS on Broadway is amazing (they weren’t able to attend because of rehearsal and competition schedules).”