The year 2016 has come to a close, and with the new year come new aspirations for dancers and their career. There is a common connection with the idea of growth and continuing to build on the art form that molds dancers into the best they can be. It’s a new year with new goals, new attitudes and a thirst to top the achievements made last year. Dance Informa speaks with professional dancers from around the U.S. about their accomplishments from 2016 and their goals for the 2017 season.
You can’t ring in the new year without acknowledging the accomplishments made previously. New York City Ballet (NYCB) Principal Dancer Lauren Lovette reflects on her challenging and busy year as she took on choreographing her first work, For Clara, for the company.
Lovette tells Dance Informa, “I have wanted to choreograph for NYCB since I joined the school, and I was fortunate enough to see that manifest! I really put myself to the test in that leadership role, and I was able to grow a great deal.”
De’Anthony Vaughan from Dallas Black Dance Theatre reminisces about his personal growth in the company throughout 2016 and how that development has shaped his dancing.
“In 2016, I wanted to work on my technique, as well as my artistry,” says Vaughan. “I gained more strength and started to really focus on the movement and not just doing the steps. I’m still going for my goal, and there’s room to grow.”
Hana Delong, a fellow Dallas Black Dance Theatre company member, shares a similar outlook on her 2016 season, noting how much the feedback from those who have watched her performances have given her a sense of her accomplishments.
“Hearing people’s feedback of the performances so far makes me want to go further as an artist,” says Delong.
For Hubbard Street Dance Chicago company member Adrienne Lipson, the 2016 season proved to be one of celebration as well. Although it may not specifically have been her New Year’s resolution, her accomplishments couldn’t go unnoticed.
“I was promoted to Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s main company!” Lipson recalls. “It has been a goal that I’ve been moving steadily toward since moving to Chicago.”
With the accomplishments from the past year also come room for improvements. For those who may have met some of their goals but know they can do more, 2017 will serve as the perfect year to fine tune, keep on track with busy rehearsal schedules, and to overcome other challenges thrown their way.
“There are always things that I can work on technique-wise,” says Delong. “I want to continue to master skills, build my artistry and remember to try not to limit myself.”
Within her pursuit of translating her goals from dancing into choreography, Lovette plans to focus on the little things outside of dance that will help make her season a pleasant one.
Lovette says, “At work, I’m focusing on Aurora, The Cage and Pontus Lidberg’s new ballet. I plan on doing my best to inspire people through my Instagram and through everyday interactions. I enjoy focusing on being kind and humorous even though my schedule is completely jam-packed.”
Keeping with the theme of choreography and embracing the artistry, Vaughan discusses his plans for the new year going forward.
“I actually want to do more choreography and focus on my creative process, “says Vaughan. “I also want to continue to improve my dancing and learning. The learning never stops.”
Alessa Rogers of Atlanta Ballet Company shares, “There will always be things that I wish I could do better, more consistently, more artistically. But that is the nature of being a ballet dancer and what a gift to always have that work, to never be bored, and always be challenged. At this level, change is so incremental.”
As someone who is new to her company, Lipson is firm in her goals for 2017. Apart from technique, which is always a work in progress, she sets her sights on conquering those mental blocks that dancers face from time to time.
“As we are midway through our season at Hubbard Street,” Lipson says, “I want to enter 2017 with a fresh focus and confidence in my place here. No more protective mental nets or excuses because I’m new. I plan on letting go of nerves and doubts in myself, and will focus on using all that I know to feed the work and the energy of this place.”
Rogers has concrete goals set for the year to come. Along with technical aspects like port de bras that she says could use improvement, she sets her sight on beating her nervousness during casting auditions.
“I dread casting days, but oddly enough, I’m never too bothered about the outcome, whether or not I am cast,” says Rogers. “It’s during the audition itself that I need to work on letting go and just having fun.”
These professional dancers are achieving their career goals and sometimes surpassing them before they could even imagine. With the dance world continuously growing and companies evolving, there is still room for those who want to take their dancing to new heights. For dancers who are just starting out or may want to audition for main companies, these dancers offer some words of advice.
For dancers pursuing their dream jobs, Lipson says, “Do just that. Pursue like a tiger. Be fierce, unrelenting, thorough and unapologetic in chasing your passion and your art.”
From previous experience, Lovette says, “Always get back up when you fall. Help others, be kind, be on time, and be pleasantly collaborative. Show gratitude for what you have and show support for your peers in return.”
And for those who may not have met their career goals yet, Vaughan says, “Keep going and persevering. Don’t be afraid of hearing ‘no’. Every day is another step to your dream, and you’ll get there.”
By Monique George of Dance Informa.