By: Casia Vengoechea & Nathan Makolandra, First-Year Dance Students
For us, dance means: leotards, pirouettes, bun heads, kneepads, arabesques, band-aids, grand jetés, toned calves, IcyHot, pointe shoes (lots and lots of pointe shoes) and no sandals come the summertime. It brings: standing o’s, stage fright, aches, strains and sprains, injuries galore, physical therapy and blood, sweat and tears. It is: riveting, intimidating, discriminating, freeing, frustrating and completely, utterly and absolutely worth it. Dance: it’s what we do. And if you’re reading this, we can only presume you share this healthy little obsession we like to call dance.
Now, to address this idea of an ever elusive Juilliard-it is not as scary as it sounds! As overwhelming as your senior year in high school can be with applications, auditions, scholarships, performances and other daily stresses, it is imperative for you to relax, take a step back and realize: hey, it’s going to be ok. Trust me. Whether you attend a public or performing arts high school, there are always mentors and counselors, both arts-related and otherwise, to guide you through the process of choosing the college that is right for you and establishing personal paths to help you reach your dream school. Know that you are not alone in this taxing time and there is always a place to turn to for advice relative to your worries, dance and otherwise. A great way to get honest insight and information about the Juilliard School is by going to the source. Don’t be afraid to schedule personal appointments with the Dance Admissions Coordinator, or observe a class or performance in order to understand the true rhythm of a day in the life of a Juilliard dancer.
In terms of preparation for your audition, there is no denying you have plenty on your plate. For starters, the audition process is a long, stressful and arduous one. Be certain to give yourself personal time to prepare mentally and emotionally, and most importantly, be prepared to wait what seems like hours each time your number is to be called. Be patient! It is a virtue, after all. Secondly, there is the irrefutable pressure of any audition, from the competitive atmosphere amongst dancers, to the seemingly endless blur of faces watching your every move. As impossible as it may appear, try not to allow others to intimidate you with high legs or many pirouettes; dance for the satisfaction of performance and live in the moment for yourself. The myriad of staring faces is also not out to get you and though it seems hard to believe, the faculty is not waiting for you to stumble or breakdown, but on the contrary, to see you succeed. You are there because you have something special to offer. Show your gift and be proud of your capability, artistry and potential.
Finally, there is the importance of your solo, which is perhaps the only opportunity you have as a dancer to establish a sense of unspoken dialogue with the faculty, so be sure not to pass it up. Be honest with yourself and your dancing and do not shy away from the odd or uncomfortable. Despite what you may have heard, do not be afraid to create your own solo either, especially if you are interested in improvisation and choreography. Be open to outside opinions and suggestions while still remaining true to your own intention, and give yourself the benefit of performing your solo in front of peers and teachers alike. Show the faculty who you are as a dancer and individual, and do not fear any preconceived boundaries, for you can escape them through your movement. Your solo is your voice-make a statement!
Senior year may seem the biggest obstacle as of yet in your high school career, and making it out alive may be your main goal for the moment, but it is also a good idea to start thinking ahead. It is completely natural to be unsure of what the future holds, but having even the slightest inkling of what you want your artistry to develop into is important in discovering who you are as a dancer and individual. Do not fear your unknown destination, but embrace the process of arriving where you wish to be in the years ahead. Let dance take you there.