Coaching Triple Threats: What Dancers Must Know About Finding out Musical Theater in Faculty

When Maria Briggs was accepted into each the dance and musical theater applications on the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York Metropolis, she ended up selecting­ musical theater. “I used to be already a robust dancer,” she says. “I wanted to work on my singing and performing, if I used to be going to have a profession in theater.” Now, with six Broadway exhibits below her belt (most just lately The Music Man), Briggs advises college students on the cusp of school to consider the talents they’ll want to attain their skilled objectives. There are a wide selection of musical theater majors, minors and programs of examine, and no two applications are alike. Whether or not you’re already a triple menace otherwise you’re a dancer eager to department out, discovering a school program that may aid you meet your objectives is a matter of asking all the fitting questions.

How Rigorous Is the Dance Coaching?

At Marymount Manhattan Faculty in New York Metropolis, college students pursuing a BFA in musical theater take dance 5 mornings per week. On the Chicago Faculty of Performing Arts, musical theater BFA candidates can do a focus in dance, which program director Tammy Mader says is “almost a dance main, as much as 12 dance courses per week.” However even in these dance-heavy departments, dance received’t be the one focus. Finding out musical theater additionally means taking voice classes, performing workshops, music concept and extra.

Marymount Manhattan college students in Mr. Burns, a post-electric play. Picture by Susan Prepare dinner Pictures, Courtesy Marymount Manhattan.

When researching applications, look into not solely how a lot dance is concerned, but in addition whether or not dancers, actors and singers are positioned in courses primarily based on talent. Think about the prospect of finding out in dance courses alongside friends who’ve far much less dance expertise. It’s not at all times a downside: Briggs says she benefited from being in dance courses with singers and actors. “It taught me about being a crew participant,” she says. “In an ensemble, you’ll have members with totally different ranges and abilities.” Additionally, do not forget that theater dance is about greater than method. You could be taught to maneuver in a means that tells a narrative.

For extra of a problem, take into consideration a double main, or a serious in musical theater and a minor in dance (or vice versa). Ask about enrolling in a complicated class with the dance majors or taking open courses off-campus. At some colleges, chances are you’ll even have the ability to carry out in dance live shows in addition to musical theater productions.

The chance to form his personal course of examine attracted­ Tommy Gedrich to Muhlenberg Faculty in Allentown, Pennsylvania. At Muhlenberg, Gedrich double-majored in theater (with an performing focus) and dance (with concentrations in efficiency and choreography); Gedrich later added programs in girls’s and gender research. “I did take a look at going the conservatory route,” they are saying, “however ultimately, I needed to deal with every self-discipline with out having to sacrifice one or the opposite.”

male performers wearing suits and hats, center dancer is hinging backwards
Current Muhlenberg grad Tommy Gedrich in Guys and Dolls at The Kennedy Heart. Picture by Jeremy Daniel, Courtesy Gedrich.

How A lot Singing and Appearing Expertise Is Required?

“If you wish to get right into a high musical theater program, you will have to have the ability to sing,” says Lyn Cramer, a professor of dance on the College of Oklahoma’s Weitzenhoffer College of Musical Theatre. This doesn’t imply you could already be extremely educated, nonetheless. “Are you able to carry a tune? Do you will have a pleasant high quality?” Cramer asks. “There needs to be potential.”

seven performers kneeling downstage, one wearing a white top hat, the others holding up their hands
College of Oklahoma college students in Cabaret. Picture by Wendy Mutz, Courtesy College of Oklahoma.

OU’s BFA in Musical Theatre Efficiency program is small by design, with solely 50 majors at a time. Different applications are a lot bigger—however that doesn’t essentially imply they’re much less selective. Mader recommends reserving a couple of classes with a vocal coach earlier than the audition. “They can assist you decide songs, set the tempo, lower and mark your materials—all issues that may make your audition go extra easily,” she says. Plus, “dancers are notoriously horrible at respiration. Getting some workouts and expertise with that’s very important.”

As for performing, once more, the audition requires candidates to exhibit potential. “When somebody involves us, they may not be the strongest storyteller…but,” says Emily Clark, an assistant professor at MMC. “But when we ask why they made a selection, can they clarify it? If we ask them to make an adjustment, can they take the notice? It issues {that a} pupil is prepared to be taught and develop.”

male performers on stage, one playing the guitar and the others dancing around him
College of Oklahoma college students in Spring Awakening. Picture by Wendy Mutz, Courtesy College of Oklahoma.

Are Graduates Working within the Area?

“I imagine that musical theater majors work extra rapidly and climb the ladder quicker” than dance majors, Cramer says. “At commencement, our college students are able to get on the market and hustle. It’s not all Broadway, and even regional theater, however they work.”
One purpose for the jumpstart? “A musical theater diploma makes you flexible,” says Mader. “You may dance within the refrain or get supporting and even main roles. You are able to do print work, modeling, movie and TV, voiceover, choreography and, after all, educating. You may converse with poise in interviews. Theater makes you a greater performer and a greater communicator.”

female dancers wearing leotards and tights standing together in the studio
Musical theater college students at Chicago Faculty of Performing Arts. Picture by Josh Feeney, Courtesy Chicago Faculty of Performing Arts.

Briggs is an instance of somebody who hit the bottom working. Whereas ending the educational portion of her BFA at The New College (the AMDA NYC musical theater program the place she began is a two-year certificates), Briggs did regional theater and danced in Radio Metropolis’s Christmas Spectacular, earlier than making her Broadway debut in CATS. Gedrich, at present on the nationwide tour of Moulin Rouge!, has additionally been working since graduating from Muhlenberg in 2021. Different latest credit embrace performing in The REV Theatre Firm’s manufacturing of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s State Honest, in The Kennedy Heart’s manufacturing of Guys and Dolls, and for NBC at Radio Metropolis Music Corridor. In addition they walked in New York Vogue Week in a present that forged dancers.

In some instances, college students land their first gigs as undergrads. Though MMC college students should obtain permission to audition after which focus on their academic paths with college, Clark notes one pupil who went on tour with Imply Women after their sophomore yr, and one other who’s finishing his diploma whereas on tour with The E-book of Mormon. “We encourage college students to audition whereas they’re with us,” Clark says. “We wish to help them at school and as they turn out to be professionals.”

a large group of performers clumped together center stage
Marymount Manhattan college students in Carrie. Picture by Susan Prepare dinner Pictures, Courtesy Marymount Manhattan.

What Else Do You Need From Faculty?

Do you wish to be in a bustling metropolis or in a extra conventional faculty atmosphere? Do you wish to pursue an educational main along with musical theater? Do you play sports activities or take part in different extracurriculars? As you take a look at diploma applications and their dance choices, don’t neglect to think about different elements of school life that may have an effect on your time on campus.

And don’t fret for those who don’t get into probably the most prestigious program—or for those who go to your dream faculty and it appears like a poor match. “In highschool, I believed the one solution to pursue musical theater was to truly get a level that claims ‘musical theater’ on it, and that’s actually not the case,” Gedrich says. “In auditions, they’re not your diploma. They’re your abilities.” Select a program that may improve your skills and broaden your horizons, and also you’ll be in your means.

male performer wearing brown vest, plaid shirt, and newsboy hat, arms outstretched
Tommy Gedrich in The REV Theatre Firm’s manufacturing of State Honest. Picture by Ron Heerkens Jr., Goat Manufacturing unit Media Leisure, LLC, Courtesy Gedrich.

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