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Northwest Professional Dance Project


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Does anyone have first-hand experience with the LAUNCH workshops through Northwest Professional Dance Project (or the associated audition)?


If so, would you comment on the style of the contemporary dance and whether any pointework was included in the workshop?

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I believe (but I could be wrong) that the Northwest Professional Dance Project is focused more on the choreographers and the dancers accepted to participate are the 'tools' for the choreographer. So . . . I'd be willing to guess that the amount of pointe and the style of contemporary dance is a function of which choreographers are participating.


I also believe (but, again, could easily be wrong) that this is the first time this project has been arranged during the winter. It usually occurs during the summer and involves a longer time period.


But, perhaps I'm thinking of something else . . . .


This is the one I'm thinking of: Northwest Professional Dance Project


The one I'm familiar with is very competitive in terms of being selected. The majority of the 30 dancers (during the summer project) are typically professionals already. Also, if a choreographer has a dancer or dancers he/she likes to work with, the choreographer can ask they be included as part of the 30. Many of the selected 30 return multiple years in a row. If the dancer has been before, I think they don't have to audition, necessarily. So, of the 30 spots for the (summer) project, it is really very hard to say how many 'spots' are really open to be filled via the auditions. As for the new winter project, I haven't a clue how much of the summer information is transferrable.


It is (the summer project, that it), however, a fabulous opportunity for the newbie dancers lucky enough to snag a spot. The project might not lead to a contract on the spot, but one may show up some time later down the road.

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Yes, that's the project I was referring to. Thanks, dancemaven. Did your DD attend, or are you familiar with it another way?


We'd love to hear from anyone who has attended.

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I have not attended the NWPDP, but am acquainted with the director, Sarah Slipper. I can play messenger if you want to send me a PM.

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No, she has not yet had the fortune to attend, although she did audition for last summer. She learned a lot about the nature of the project and the attendees via that process (which is posted above). She knows several dancers who have attended and encouraged her to audition. They, however, were already professionals. She does plan to audition again, just not sure when.

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Thanks again to both of you.


It may be way out of my DD's league, in which case we'll chalk it up to another audition experience. :)

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If you are referring to the NWPDP in August, then the following might apply. My daughter auditioned last year in NYC. She was accepted for the August program but ended up not attending. As I understand it, the audition was quite long and demanding. My daughter said that the dancers were given the option to put their pointe shoes on during the audition and she opted to do so. Hope this answers some of your questions.

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Thanks, ddm3. It's actually the audition for the December workshop, but my impression is that the two workshops are similar.

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I can't speak for the LAUNCH program, but I can disclose some of what I know of the August program.


One of my students auditioned for the program in NY, after graduating from NYU and dancing with some contemporary dance companies in NY. She wrote to say that the audition was one of the hardest that she had ever experienced, but was happy to be accepted so that she could "come home" to the Pacific NW for a while.


She loved the whole experience. She worked with very prominent directors, choreographers and ex-professional dancers while meeting a lot of new friends. The ONLY issue she mentioned was that the studio that they were using had no air conditioning during Portland's hot spell, and even that was worth going through for the wonderful opportunity it was.


I purchased tickets early so that I could get a good seat for one of the end of session performances. All the ballets were contemporary dances done barefoot, if I remember correctly. I don't recall any pointe shoes used. I did ask about that during the question and answer segment after the performance. One gentleman said that in previous years they have had ballets en pointe, but not this year. So, it was the "luck of the draw", in other words.


The choreographers seemed pleased with their works that they accomplished in those two weeks. There were some interesting ideas going, for sure. I am not a contemporary dance aficionado, so the program filled up my non-balletic tank really fast, but that's just me. I felt that the calibre of dancer was really, really high but the dances didn't show off the full capabilities that the dancers held.


One audience member said it was the best $25 that she ever spent to see dance. I would have to agree. The spectrum of choreographer/director/teacher to the high level of dancer made for an interesting program.


My student was accepted immediately into a ballet company from this program. Just for that, I think that this is one of the most innovative think tanks around (NWPDP). I don't know if it's Sarah Slipper or Body Vox's brain child...but, if it can land jobs and performance opportunities for dancers, then it's got all my support.


I hope that this was helpful, because I noticed that no one saw the performances or had some inside info to relate.

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deghig--did your student go last year or a year prior? I'm curious. When we first looked into the program a few years ago they had a professional division and a student division. Looking at the information up now, I didn't see that so I wonder if it is merging more towards being solely a professional project.

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Just a few comments from my DD's audition yesterday....


It was a very challenging audition, both physically and mentally. They began with a 45 minute (but complete) ballet class taught by Lucas Crandall, the Associate Artistic Director of Hubbard Street. Sarah Slipper observed, and two of the NWPDP Project Company members were present. Following ballet, the rest of the audition (almost 3 hours total) was choreography, both in the form of a short piece and individual combinations. The majority of the audition was taught by Mr. Crandall, but one or two combinations were taught by one of the company members.


Stylistically, it was more ultra-modern than my DD personally hoped for. She also said it didn't seem to follow any particular style of contemporary dance, and she has been exposed to all of the biggies (Limon, Horton, Cunningham, etc.). It was extremely physical, there was a lot of focus on gestures in isolation, head and body "throwing" and very, very precise details they requested. That held true in both the ballet and the choreography portions of the audition--they were obsessed (in a good way) with tiny, very precise positions of the head, fingers, eyes, whatever...and those positions often changed within combinations.


My DD does not expect to be invited to the workshop, but that's OK because I think she would decline if she was. It is just not her preferred way to move. She was the youngest of the 11 auditionees--most were college students. A good experience nonetheless. She did not feel out of her league at all, just perhaps out of her element. :blink:


Oh, one more thing--not only was there no pointework opportunity, but DD said most of the combinations would have been impossible in pointe shoes!

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Looking at the various choreographers that have taken part in the NPDP the last several years, I would say it is more geared toward contemporary ballet with strong modern leanings than toward the classical ballet end of the spectrum--or even pure modern (i.e., Horton, Graham, Limon, etc). That was one the biggest reason it was suggested for DD and her classmates. Not too many opportunities for the contemporary- leaning post-high school ballet students to find summer programs that fit with them.


I am not surprised at the nature of the audition in Chicago the other day given the Associate AD who gave the audition class, etc. Again, I gather that the 'flavor' of any Project session is definitely influenced by the participating individual choreographers and their particular styles. There is a whole world of contemporary ballet that is not really seen by much of the country. As I am slowly learning, the East Coast contemporary choreographers have a much different style than the West Coast choreographers.


Contemporary ballet (which is not modern per se) is quite interesting, but definitely is still pretty much 'under the radar' for a good portion of the larger dance community.

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Right--"contemporary ballet with strong modern leanings" is exactly what she was expecting, but DD indicated the only thing at all balletic was the beginning 45 minutes. After that, there was no sign of ballet, contemporary or otherwise! :)

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Yep, I'd say that would be in keeping with the style of that particular auditioner given the current style of Hubbard Street . . . :)

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