By Jillian Quiner
In this edition of the Inside Dance Blog, Jillian gives us the 411 on her experience at the 2018 New York City Dance Alliance Regional Convention in Philadelphia!
The Tried and True!
This past March, my five sisters and I headed to Philadelphia for a weekend of dance at a regional convention of the New York City Dance Alliance (NYCDA).
Run by its Founder and Executive Director, Joe Lanteri, and based out of the Big Apple, NYCDA brings together renowned teachers and choreographers to give dancers and dance educators a unique and memorable convention experience. Complete with competition, classes and audition opportunities, NYCDA is an ideal place to foster growth in and inspire young artists.
Beginning in the fall and continuing through the spring, the faculty and staff travel across the country on their Regional Convention Tour, hitting 24 different cities. Each weekend is special, featuring a distinctive lineup of teachers and judges who have made a mark in their field. The events are created with the dance studio in mind, providing opportunities for both students and their teachers to learn while allowing dancers and choreographers to showcase their talent through pre-choreographed routines.
Students ages 7-19 can audition for various kinds of scholarships offered by both NYCDA itself and other dance organizations, which have come to trust and believe in the talent these weekends attract.
NYCDA’s Regional Convention Tour culminates in a week-long National Season Finale!
The finale features four days of classes with the entire faculty (as well as guest teachers), an exciting competition experience and an incomparable array of audition and scholarship opportunities. Located in the heart of NYC, this summer event is laden with audition workshops for Broadway shows and dubs an entire day the NYCDA Foundation College Audition Day. On this day, Students are seen by representatives of prestigious dance colleges and are eligible to be awarded scholarships from these schools as well as the NYCDA Foundation. Since 2010, millions of dollars in college scholarships have been offered to students across the nation. It is difficult to overstate the impact Lanteri and the New York City Dance Alliance have had on the dance industry.
I attended my first convention when I was seven years old and have been a part of the NYCDA family for 13 years (and counting!).
My sisters and I cherish countless memories from all the regional and national events we have attended over the years. My favorite part has always been the classes NYCDA offers to educate and inspire students. One thing that sticks out to me about this experience is how unique each faculty member is. All different genres are represented each weekend, but every teacher carries a distinctive style which simply cannot be found anywhere else or with anyone else.
For me, the weekend my sisters and I spent in Philly was a celebration of tradition and a return to the original educational experiences I have come to associate with NYCDA’s individual faculty members. It had been way too long since I allowed myself the luxury of dancing with Suzi Taylor, and her classes that weekend proved to be a one-of-a-kind occasion to drink in the breathy, beautiful movement the legendary choreographer has become so well known for.
I relished the dynamic edge which has always separated Joey Dowling’s classes and contemporary movement from the rest of the pack. It was so refreshing to reacquaint myself with Kenny Easter’s no-nonsense and ever-thoughtful approach to ballet education, and Andy Pellick’s quirky, experiential teaching and choreographic style had its usual uncanny way of lodging itself in my memory as an artful exploration of what dance can communicate.
I could go on.
There is a lot of emphasis in the dance world on the newest competition or the latest and greatest convention experience. Novelty is definitely a worthy and exciting component of this ever-evolving industry, but I believe it is also important to respect and return to the tried and true.
One of the beauties of being involved in the dance community is the relationships you build, many of which can last for a lifetime. Of course, this primarily includes relationships with people – dancers, teachers, choreographers, directors, etc. – but it also has to do with the classes and individual styles you grow to know and love along your journey. There is nothing like the charm of a beloved tradition, and for my sisters and me, NYCDA falls into this category.
The collection of memories we have from our experiences with this convention grows larger and sweeter with each passing year. You know, I think it is that continual return and the familiarity it breeds which indeed makes NYCDA feel like family.
Ciao for now!
Jillian Quiner trains in New York City as a scholarship student with Jennifer Muller/The Works while working toward a degree at Regent University. When she’s not busy training or going to class, Jillian teaches young dancers at her childhood dance school. You can follow Jillian’s dance journey on social media @jillianquiner and @quiner_sisters!