I am in an airport heading to the first Hollywood Vibe in St. Louis. I am so excited to see everyone again and begin the tour as Dancer of the Year. My dad and I had a conversation in the United Club lounge in San Francisco about the differences between this year and the last time I won dancer of the year. It inspired me to write this post because there is no manual for assisting or the other things that you do as a company member or DOTY for a convention. In some small way, you may want to use this as a guide.
First of all, when I won Icon of the Year for Hollywood Connection, I was not really going for it. It was my second year on the competition team and my first year doing solos. My solo, Whatcha Want placed first place in San Jose that year and I won regional Icon of the Year runner up. I really had no expectation to win Dancer of the Year. I just went to Nationals and worked my but off and did the best job I could. I nearly peed my pants at the awards banquet when they called my name. It was a total shock. I was 9 years old at the time, and I toured with Hollywood Connection the next year and assisted in the junior room on stage in about 5 or 6 cities
That same year, I won regional Dancer of the Year for Hollywood Vibe and was invited to join Team Hollywood Vibe. Team Hollywood vibe members assist teachers. It also qualified me for Dancer of the Year. Last year at Nationals, after touring 4 or 5 cities with team Hollywood Vibe, I was fortunate enough to be selected as Dancer of the Year. This was totally different than Hollywood Connection. I wanted it. I knew that I would need to work really hard at home and at convention to elevate my skills to be a contender. It was my goal. Competition was fierce and I fought my emotions and doubt with courage and dedication. In truth, becoming a finalist would have been good enough. I don’t really know how they pick a winner when it is down to a few dancers. I can tell you that the other girls definitely were as good if not better than me in so many ways. It was a toss-up and I am grateful that I got it.
Convention as Dancer of the Year is a totally different experience. I do not compete, but I run my solo in each city. I will also be in the team Hollywood Vibe company dances. All of the company members are sent a video of the dance a week in advance and we learn it on our own. This is a really important skill to pick up. As a professional dancer, I am often sent video footage of a dance to learn in advance of rehearsal. We need to have the skills to learn a dance so that rehearsal is more about cleaning than teaching.
My dad asked me about the pressure I feel as DOTY. He wanted to know if it is harder to dance on stage in front of everyone versus being on the floor learning. The answer is “it depends on the choreographer,” and “it depends on what you are doing.” When you are learning the 8 counts, it is important that you focus on the movement and the timing so the dancers on the floor have a clear understanding of the choreography, especially if the choreographer doesn’t dance it. You need to rely on your body for technique. I try to go more full out when the dance is being taught, and less full out when running groups. Here is the idea. When the dance is being taught, they should be looking at the teacher and assistant on stage going full out. That is how you learn. But when running groups, the class should be going full out and we are there to give them the queues when they need it. I go at about 70 or 80 percent during groups and focus on accenting the details of the dance.
If you are assisting for the first time, feel free to DM me on Instagram with questions. I wish I would had a guide my first time. I was scared and uncertain and it would have helped to learn from someone that has been there before.