Dance performance majors senior-piece it all together

Kait Kishbaugh and Aubrey Phillips were two of 14 graduating dance performance seniors who performed their senior pieces April 28.

The light at the end of the tunnel is in sight. Graduating dance performance seniors are one step closer to graduation.

The students performed their senior pieces at 4 p.m. April 28 in the Kirkpatrick auditorium in the Kirkpatrick Fine Arts Center. To see a list of graduating seniors, click here.

Kait Kishbaugh, dance performance senior, said she felt “wonderful” after performing her senior piece.

Kishbaugh said she plans to take the summer off and hopes to get a job in the New York or on the East Coast in the fall.

Performing a satisfactory senior piece is one of the requirements students must adhere to before graduation. Seniors also must pass jazz, tap and ballet proficiency exams, make at least a Level 7 in a dance style of their choice, a Level 6 in their second dance style of choice and a Level 5 in their third style of choice. Graduating seniors also must make their weigh-in goal and pass an oral exam prior to graduation.

Dance performance seniors often relocate to pursue different performing careers after graduation. To see a list of some venues and locations where OCU dance alumni have performed, click here. To see a list of some Broadway shows OCU dance alumni have been in, click here. As of 2006, more than 48 dance alumni had performed on cruise ships, more than 37 had performed as Radio City Rockettes and more than 31 had performed in Broadway shows, according to the 42nd St. and Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Arts Management document.

But, just because the dancers are alumni of the Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Arts Management, does not mean they will have gigs falling in their laps.

Questions during the students’ oral exam following their senior pieces made clear the views of Jo Rowan, chairman of the Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Arts Management, on the entertainment industry. Some of the questions and answers included:

  • Q: Is life fair?     A: No.     Q: What do you do about it?     A: Get over it.
  • Q: How do you make it in the industry?     A: Make yourself desirable.

Getting work in Los Angeles:

“The commercial dance world requires almost more from you than dance skill and if you want to work regularly, you have to put in some serious legwork both in and outside the studio,” according to Be Your Own Agent, an article by Kathryn Holmes, a former editor at Dance Spirit magazine.

Here are some tips Holmes offers for getting hired:

  1. Get to class— Even professional dancers need to continue to train.
  2. Network smart— Dancing is almost as much about who you know as about how you dance.
  3. Work the Web— Posting videos of yourself in class or performance will expose your talent to a broader audience and many casting agencies and choreographers actually search the Internet for fresh dance faces.
  4. Cultivate your image— Dress for class in a way that highlights your best features and shows off your personal style.

Making it in New York City:

Kendra Barreda, assistant director of alumni relations, said she suggests the graduating seniors become a member of the OCUNYC alumni chapter.

“There are about 750 OCU alumni living in New York City,” Barreda said. “About 650 of the alumni are members of the alumni chapter.”

Barreda said OCUNYC is like a family for alumni of the university.

“Members help the new alumni with things as simple as finding an apartment,” she said.

Barreda said OCUNYC was established in 2006 and is the university’s only established alumni chapter, but officials are looking to start a second chapter in Chicago.

Jo Rowan, chairman of the Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Arts Management, said during senior piece performances that sticking with your OCU family is important.

Confessions of a pirouetting powerhouse

Chaz Wolcott, dance performance senior

Executing 13-14 revolutions on one leg isn’t something the average person can do, but Chaz Wolcott, dance performance senior, does it with ease.

“I started dance when I was about 1 when my parents taught me how to do the cha cha,” he said. “They say I was still in diapers.”

Wolcott’s parents enrolled him in tap and jazz classes when he was about 2 1/2 or 3 years old. He said he hasn’t stopped dancing since.

While Wolcott’s pirouettes are acclaimed to be “absolutely amazing” by Mary Price Boday, associate professor of dance, turning hasn’t always come easy to him.

“When I was little I could not even do a double up until the age of maybe 14,” he said. “It always bothered me ’cause boys always seemed to turn and I couldn’t at all.”

Determined to improve, Wolcott practiced turning by spinning for hours in socks in the kitchen.

“The only way you can get better at turning is just to keep practicing, and not necessarily in class. You just have to find your center, which is something I think you have to find on your own. You can’t just take ballet once a day or whatever and expect to get it. You have to just keep practicing and spin around in the grocery store isles until you find your center,” he said.

Boday said having the ability to execute at least a double or triple pirouette is must to be a competitive working dancer.

“If you look at what dancers can do today, as opposed to what dancers could do 75 years ago, it’s really really different,” she said. “That’s just the nature of any of the performing arts. We always push and try to do more.”