Logan Epstein is a Commercial Dance major at Pace University in New York City. She just finished her sophomore year, where she worked with renowned choreographers like Suzi Taylor and Dee Caspary. And as if school doesn’t keep her busy enough, Logan spends her weekends assisting at conventions or teaching and choreographing at her hometown studio, Westchester Dance Academy. She has also assisted Broadway choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler on upcoming projects (stay tuned!).
Most recently, Logan and her roommate, Olivia Cece, spent a day assisting our very own Joey Dowling at the Knicks City Dancers auditions. Here’s Logan’s rundown of the day, plus some game-changing takeaways on “the art of auditioning.”
It’s been my lifelong dream to one day be a professional dancer. Dancing has brought so much joy into my life; it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. Since I attend Pace here in NYC, I’m constantly exposed and introduced to well-known choreographers in the business.
One choreographer who needs no introduction is Joey Dowling! My relationship with Joey goes way back. Not only is she on faculty at Pace, I’ve grown up taking classes and learning from her. We first met when I was 12, taking class at New York City Dance Alliance. I’ve always been in awe of her stylized movement and musicality. Being able to pick up her choreography helped me get noticed in the competition and convention world, and I’ve had the privilege of assisting Joey throughout the years.
It’s important to connect with your choreographer and to be able to understand how he or she thinks, especially when you’re assisting. So when I got the call to assist Joey for the Knicks City Dancers audition earlier this month, I was so excited—and of course said yes!
To prep for the audition, we created the whole piece of choreography in the studio first. Joey created the number the dancers would be performing if they were selected to be on the team. We took a chunk of the piece and turned it into the “audition combo,” so we could see which girls trying out would be able to handle the choreography, and who had what it takes to make it onto the team.
When you assist a choreographer, you must be able to learn the piece quickly. The choreographer is depending on you to perform the combo correctly and to lead each group. Just like when you’re auditioning, it’s important to be well-rested and hydrated when you’re assisting. You want to dance and look your best. (To look my best, I wore my new Go To Leggings and Tri-Top. I felt great and confident.)
The audition room was on fire, but I could tell there were nerves in the air. It was interesting being on the other side of the judging table. Even though I wasn’t auditioning, I still felt a kind of pressure. The dancers were relying on me and watching me. So many eyes were on my every move. I had to be full-out on every rotation. They were depending on me to guide their steps and counts, so I had to be ready and prepared and on the entire day.
After Joey taught the combo, the dancers split into groups and asked to perform. There were many cuts, which is always hard, and the cuts made the energy in the room even more tense. Dancers had to perform in groups of four, then in groups of two. They had to do the combination multiple times, and do a bit of improv. If you made it to the end, it was a good sign!
Having this opportunity to work with Joey, and having the chance to watch other dancers auditioning was very beneficial and eye-opening for me. I was able to learn so much of what you should and shouldn’t do when auditioning. I’ll be auditioning for jobs in the near future, and this experience assisting gave me so much insight on how I should compose myself.
Most of all, it’s important to remember it’s not always about being perfect. It’s about showing the people behind the casting table why they should pick you, and what makes you special.
Congratulations to all of the new Knicks City Dancers! You rocked the audition!