Student Profile: Kayla Janssen – Adidas Dancers Wanted Challenge

My name is Kayla Janssen and I am the Global Winner of the Adidas Dancers Wanted Challenge 2012. I studied at the Broadway Dance Center Professional Semester back in Fall 2011 and since then decided to move back home to Antwerp, Belgium.

Through a nudge from my boyfriend and not having much on my plate, I decided to enter the competition. I had to create a video (small music video) to a song create by Adidas and show off my moves. So I did. I went crazy asking all my friends, family and people with computers to vote for my video.

And it worked! On one cold summers evening in July, I received the email from the Adidas headquarters in Germany that I had won the whole competition – the Global Winner! I screamed, jumped around, then had to read the email again just to make sure what I read was true. *

I won a free trip to LA with a friend and was able to have a dance session with Nick Florez and R.J. Durell, Katy Perry’s California Dreams Tour Choreographers. I brought my boyfriend as a thank you to him for that initial nudge. I was in LA in the first week of September and it was magical. We received the full “Adidas Experience,” as they called it. Day 1 consisted of a full shopping spree in the Adidas store in Santa Monica, Day 2 was our amazing dance session with Nick and R.J. Day 3 was a full day at Universal Studios and Day 4 was a helicopter ride over Los Angeles and an evening at the Scratch Academy LA, learning how to scratch a record the right way.

My highlight of the week was definitely the session with Nick and R.J. They were so warm and welcoming and made us all feel like one big family. Their choreography was fun and funky and by the end of the session we were able to create a small little music video. Katy Perry Tour Dance Leah Adler and Adidas Dancer Tyne Stecklein were there to dance and play with us. Nick and R.J. then surprised us with a Q&A session with ALL of Katy Perry’s Tour dancers, who were rehearsing in the studio next door. We asked them everything, it was like we were speaking to rock stars. Watching them rehearse and being a fly on the wall for that 1 hour was insightful.

Back in Belgium, I am inspired and pumped. The “Adidas Experience” was everything I imagined and more. Take risks, try everything, and don’t be afraid of the word “no”. Work creates work so if you find yourself twiddling your thumbs watching TV, get that friend and that camera and start dancing in your favourite parts of town. Who knows, it might win you a trip to LA.

*There were 4 winners from Argentina who came along as well since Adidas Argentina decided to create a separate competition.

Bright Lights, Shining Stars! NYCDA Gala

On Thursday, September 5th I made my way down to New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts for NYCDA’s “Bright Lights, Shining Stars” Gala.  In conjunction with the New York City Dance Alliance convention and competition, the NYCDA Foundation was founded by Joe Lanteri to provide college scholarships to young aspiring dancers.

The NYC Dance Alliance Foundation, Inc. is an IRS approved 501(c)(3) public charity, committed to broadening performing arts awareness while advocating education and high standards of excellence in dance.  NYCDAF is dedicated to investing in the next generation of professional performers by offering scholarships for secondary and college education.

The evening of breathtaking dance including performances by NYCDA scholarship winners (accompanied by singer, Kelly King, who has taught vocal master classes to BDC’s Professional Semester students), Complexions Dance Company, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Ballet Next, and Ballet Hispanico.

Though the stage was graced with some notable professional dancers, I think the night was stolen by the NYCDA scholarship winners.  The nineteen dancers performed a contemporary piece to Kelly King’s rendition of RENT’s “No Day But Today.”  It was clear why each dancer was awarded a scholarship from NYCDA – their joy and talent filled the entire theater.  Because of the NYCDA Foundation, those nineteen dancers were awarded college scholarships to extraordinary schools such as New York University, Marymount Manhattan College, Dean College, University of the Arts, and Point Park University.

The night concluded with the one-and-only Liza Minnelli who presented the prestigious “Ambassador of the Arts Award” to one of the greatest dancers of all time, Mikhail Baryshnikov. Liza was, well, Liza!  Her speech about “Misha” was passionate and funny.  When she performed in “Baryshnikov on Broadway” back in 1980, she recounted that she was so intimidated to dance with such an acclaimed professional!  Turns out, however, she had to teach Misha how to do a simple Charleston!

Here’s their show-stopping performance:

Baryshnikov’s acceptance speech was just as genuine and humorous.  “I didn’t prepare a speech,” he admitted.  “I was thinking I might bring out a chair and talk to it, but that’s been done.  Maybe I will do that – but bring a throne – when I am awarded ‘Tsar of the Arts.'”

Here is one of Baryshnikov’s most memorable performances in “Giselle:”

Check out NYCDA’s homepage to learn more about their competitions, scholarship awrads, and annual gala.

Dancers over 40

I met Jonathan Cerullo, membership director of Dancers over 40, at the Business Group Meeting hosted by Career Transition for Dancers.

“Well, I’m not quite ‘over 40,'” I smiled.

As I turned to walk away, Jonathan grabbed my arm, sat me down, and starting talking to me about the organization. He threw out the names of some of my dance idols: Chita Rivera, Jerry Mitchell, Bob Avian…I was hooked.

Dancers Over 40, Inc. was created as a not-for-profit organization to provide a community of support in response to the fiscal — as well as physical – needs of mature dancers, choreographers and related artists. Our goals are to seek educational opportunities, present seminars, socials and panel discussions on topics important to mature dancers concerned about their ability to continue to live and work in a creative environment and continue the legacy to those dancers about to begin their journey.

Don’t let the “age” of the organization’s title deter you – while “Members” indeed must meet the age requirement, “Friends of Dancers over 40” include all ages, dancers and non-dancers. And what better way to celebrate the legacies of older dancers than to share their stories and talents with the younger generation of up-and-coming dancers!

Jonathan and I immediately hit it off, and he invited me to the Dancers over 40 Membership Meeting in September at Characters Restaurant on 54th street. I was honored to attend the meeting, but felt like a high school freshman on my first day of school! My anxiety was quickly relieved (well, sort of!) after I met the John Sefakis, the President of DO40, and he sat me at a table between….Marge Champion and Larry Fuller. I was chatting it up with dance royalty!

The meeting marked the first of the fall season, and laid out a general framework of events and topics for the rest of the year. The evening started with a short introduction from John Sefakis, followed by a few stunning performances by Mary Lou Barber, Joyce Nolen, Patti Mariano, and Tony Sheldon. A couple DO40 members spoke about their newly published books (Christine Fournier’s Gypsy Nights and Harvey Hohnecker Evans’ Our Story – book reviews to come!!). Lastly, board members announced some of the exciting events and performances coming up for the 2012/2012 season – hopefully we’ll see you there!

Upcoming events with Dancers over 40: (All of the events are open to the public).

  • Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids Flea Market
    Sunday, Sept. 23, 10am-7pm
    Shubert Alley
  • Balanchine, Broadway and Beyond (film/panel)
    Monday, Oct. 8, 8pm
    St. Luke’s Theater
  • 4th Annual DO40 Legacy Awards and Holiday Party
    Monday, Dec. 10, 6-9pm
    Lips Restaurant
  • **honorees: Carol Lawrence, Lee Roy Reams, Larry Fuller, Norma Doggett-Bezwick, and George Marcy
  • Tap! Part II: The Tapping Continues!
    February, 2013
    St. Luke’s Theater
  • DO40 Cares: The Stories of our Lives…A Song and Dance Concert
    Monday, Apr. 22, 8pm
    The Ailey CitiGroup Theater/Joan Weill Center for Dance

Dancers over 40 is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that celebrates the lives and legacies of dancers and choreographers. To learn more or to get involved with Dancers over 40, visit their website: www.dancersover40.org.

Justin Bieber “Believe Tour” Auditions

Unless you live under a rock, your Facebook Timeline has probably been abuzz with dancer-friends uploading their submission videos for Justin Bieber’s #believetourauditions.  That’s right – “the Biebs” is looking for one more (lucky!) dancer to join his “Believe Tour” which will hit the road this September.

Hundreds of hopeful fans have uploaded clips of their best moves, hoping to win the ultimate prize: a live audition for Justin Bieber and (hopefully) a back-up dancing gig!  Submissions began August 3rd and included live auditions in Los Angeles.  But Jon M. Chu, Bieber’s tour director, notes the importance of online auditions: “Justin also has such a huge online component, that’s where he was discovered.”

“We’re only looking for the best dancers in the world…[W]e want to take it to a whole other level,” choreographer Nick DeMoura added in a video posted with Chu on D-Studio about the tour. “It’s gonna be like an epic journey.”

Bieber’s director and choreographer suggested that aspiring dancers look to Michael Jackson for some inspiration, since Justin has been looking to incorporate “the King of Pop’s” movement, magic, and even pyro into the tour.  Look for Michael Jackson influences as you check out these incredible #believetourauditions submissions from our extremely talented BDC students.

[Quotes excerpted from Jocelyn Vena’s MTV.com article 8/3/12]

Show Your Spirit – dancing for sports teams

Bianca Argyros (ISVP ’11)

What team do you dance for?

I dance for the Canterbury Bulldogs.

Why did you decide to audition?

I decided to audition because I wanted to expand my training (as this is more cheeleading) and to gain extra technique.

What was the audition like?

The audition was great, really professional.  We had a dance audition featuring centre work and corner work and then we had an interview.

What is your favorite part about performing for a sports team?

My favorite part about being on the squad is performing at the games, there’s nothing I love better than performing. Also the charity work is great – giving back to the community means so much to me and i feel fantastic afterwards and encourage other to do so too.

Kimberly Hamilton (Professional Semester F’11)

What team do you dance for?

I dance for the Tampa Bay Rain ABA Basketball team.

Why did you decide to audition?

I auditioned because I was looking for a good starting point for a team dance and I knew a few of the girls trying out.

What was the audition like?

The audition process took a few weeks.  We had a 3 hour audition, then some girls were cut and we had 5 training camp sessions after that.  We learned routines and ran practice like usual and performed them in front of a second set of judges.  We were also weighed, measured, and given personal goals before we are allowed to perform.

What is your favorite part about performing for a sports team?

I love dancing with a sports team because of all the energy in the gym.  It’s always so much fun even when you’re not dancing. I’ve been on some type of dance team most of my life – having that group and support system is such a great experience!