Tracie Stanfield, artistic director of New York City-based company SynthesisDANCE and faculty member of Broadway Dance Center, has produced summer intensives for years. But for the first time this summer, Stanfield is tailoring a program as an “Apprentice Experience”. The four-day intensive (July 30-August 2) is based on the idea that, even during their training, dancers need to be exposed to the step after “dance student”. During the SynthesisDANCE Apprentice Experience, participants will train as a dance company, take class alongside professionals, be guided by an artistic director, mentored by company dancers, learn choreography and perform on a professional stage in NYC.
“I aim to move dancers from the competition circuit and social media mentality (both are valid and important) and take them on a four-day journey toward working as a company with the focus on exploration, motivation, education and mentorship,” Stanfield explains. “Every member of the Apprentice Experience company will be dedicated to communicating the work to our audience and fellow dancers with their full body, mind and spirit. They will learn to trust themselves as they work at a professional pace in class and rehearsal. They will have a support system as they move through this process.”
The Apprentice Experience is for intermediate and advanced teen, college-age and pre-professional dancers. There will be an audition class the first day, when Stanfield will cast the pieces she will create for each group. Dancers will take daily classes in ballet and contemporary lyrical technique. In addition, there will be one repertory/rehearsal class, followed by specialty classes in improvisation, contemporary partnering, floorwork, progressions and stretch/strengthen classes.
Faculty will include Stanfield; members of SynthesisDANCE; Maurice Brandon Curry, artistic director of Eglevsky Ballet; and Kiesha Lalama, choreographer for Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. Matthew Shaffer, choreographer and author of So You Want to Be a Dancer, will also coach the Apprentices on performance qualities and the business of dance.
“Each day will end with a Q&A session with SynthesisDANCE dancers,” Stanfield adds. “Dancers will be mentored in small groups with my company dancers or with me. The choreographer-dancer relationship is sacred to me. I plan to be available to work and guide each dancer to find and believe in their strength and creativity. A ‘day in the life’ of a concert dancer in NYC can include auditions, classes, cross-training, rehearsal, mentorship and a performance. The only thing we are leaving out is the day job…”
At the end of the fourth day, the Apprentices will also perform in the SynthesisDANCE summer concert at the Gelsey Kirkland Theater in Brooklyn.
Stanfield’s goal is to use the Apprentice Experience as a feeder into the professional SynthesisDANCE, a company of female artists that is rooted in the traditions of American jazz dance and has performed throughout the U.S. During the year, Stanfield offers at least one performance opportunity for young dancers under the company name SynthesisTOO, the apprentice company of SynthesisDANCE. Stanfield says she will cast these pieces from the Apprentice Experience 2018 roster.
“Once you are in the SynthesisDANCE ‘family’, I am available for guidance and advice throughout the year,” Stanfield shares.
The Apprentice Experience is a somewhat small program of about 40 dancers. Those interested can either take Stanfield’s class at Broadway Dance Center or send an audition video of classwork or a solo performance.
For more information on SynthesisDANCE’s Apprentice Experience and to apply, visit www.synthesisdance.org/pre-professional-intensives.
By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.