Alana Hill is the Program Director for the H.Y.P.E. Program (Hip Hop Performance and Education). It’s a comprehensive training program for dancers in 1-12 grade, with five performing companies: HYPE: The company, Groove Elements, Rhythmix, Vibe Tribe, and HypeFlow. Alana was recently honored at JOMDC’s 40th Anniversary Gala for over 10 years of exceptional service to the organization. Alana and ten dancers were recently invited to the White House for the African American Women in Dance Celebration featuring lectures and workshops with legendary dance makers Judith Jamison, Debbie Allen, and Fatima Robinson. It was truly life changing. We sat down with Alana to talk about how she keeps the program so fresh and what dancers can expect at auditions this May.
The audition date for H.Y.P.E. performing companies in May 22. Register here!
1. You’ve been in the dance game a long time. How do you keep the program so fresh? The students engaged year after year?
I try to vary what we offer annually in terms of training, guest teachers/choreographers, and performance experiences. I also spend a lot of time discussing the season in advance with all of the company directors. When you collaborate with such artistic individuals, it is easy to keep the program fresh.
2. You’ve hit some major milestones. What is one of your goals for the 2016-2017 season?
We just added a new company this season, HypeFlow, our freestyle company for 3-12 graders. I am looking forward to continuing progress towards creating a truly cohesive and comprehensive Hip Hop training and performance program.
3. Our youth companies seem to have a life of their own. Dancers are performing all over town, and take the program seriously. How do you foster this spirit?
I consistently impress upon our dancers that our goal as teachers is to give them the tools and opportunities they need to continue pushing Hip Hop dance forward. That involves stressing technique and history, while offering opportunities that foster leadership, creativity, and community. I find that this focus allows our dancers to feel more responsible for their learning and empowers them to continue exploring their love of the art form.
4. What kind of dancer are you looking for at the audition?
One who has a passion for dance and who is committed, responsible, and wants to learn.
5. What should someone remember at the audition? Like your BEST advice….
I would stress that all dancers walk into the audition, or any audition for that matter, focused on giving their best and enjoy the process. Try not to stress about the outcome, just focus on the moment.
6. What should a dancer bring/wear to the audition?
Clothing they can move in and which makes them feel their best. Bottled water.
7. What do parents need to know about their child being in a JOMDC company? How can they be best prepared for the season ahead?
Beyond anything else, I would like parents to know that being in a company is a family commitment. As a mom of a dancer myself, there were days that were off limits for our family because they were my daughter’s dance days. For most kids seriously considering participating in a performance company, being in rehearsal and performances are essential to success. Thus, parents who are organized and communicative will make it so much easier on their dancers. Also, it’s helpful for parents and dancers to understand being in a company is not the same as being in a recital dance class. Participating in a company is an advanced and focused training environment, which requires a lot more time and commitment than just taking a weekly class.
8. Does everyone get accepted?
Unfortunately, not every student will be accepted. While our H.Y.P.E. performance companies offer consistent opportunities for training, a good majority of the time is spent prepping for a performance. Thus, a prerequisite is mastery of basic technique in Hip Hop, choreography retention, and performance quality. How long does it take to obtain the necessary skills? Since there is a learning curve in how dancers master technique, some dancers will be ready to excel in a company environment in only a couple of years, while others will need more time. A good barometer for where you are in terms of technique is to ask your current Hip Hop teacher. They should be able to give you an idea of whether they think you would excel in a company environment or if you need more time. If they don’t feel you are ready, don’t be discouraged! Just ask what you need to improve upon and work towards that in class each week. You’ll get there sooner than you know.
See the companies in action below. Watch H.Y.P.E. perform at the 7th Annual Culture Shock Youth Showcase – it features all five H.Y.P.E. companies in “H.Y.P.E. Family Reunion!”