Behind the Scenes at LIPA + Application Tips
In love with LIPA? We are too! We were lucky enough to spend the day and have a look at some dancers in action for an exclusive models casting. It was amazing to see the versatility of the dancers going from ballet straight into jazz and other dance styles. Have a look at some of our fave snaps from the day below. We’ll be introducing our new LIPA models to you very soon! Keep scrolling for application tips from the head of LIPA, Sarah Baker.
Interview with Sarah Baker – Head of LIPA
Sarah did her teacher training at the National Ballet in Canada, got her masters at Urdang and also worked there. She’s now celebrating her 10th year at LIPA! She oversees the dance team at LIPA, ensuring that the programme stays current. Aerial skills was introduced to the course 3 years ago along with wiring their very own aerial theatre at the Institute. Writing aerial into the course widened career horizons for LIPA dancers. Sarah told us that it’s LIPA’s ethos to train dancers to be industry-ready, so they also learn business studies. Students at LIPA create and produce their own work, like the IWD film with an all-female cast and student producers. Collaboration is a big focus at LIPA. All aspects of a show are covered by the students including the set, lighting and rigging. 2nd and 3rd year shows are open to the public but first year shows are usually just in-house. LIPA think it’s important that the students get used to being looked at on stage so the first years are on show from December.
Sarah’s team put on 10 masterclasses throughout the year for all levels of students. The masterclasses cover all dance styles and are led by professionals like Matt Harris and Dean Lee. Sarah believes it’s vital that their students are exposed to different and new dance styles. Students are always learning on a regular basis and are encouraged to foster their networking skills. An ex-student in fact made it onto McGregor’s new graduate mentorship!
Sarah proudly told us that being based in Liverpool doesn’t put their students outside of the dance industry – they’re a hub of dance even have students moving from London and other places around the world to join the course. The Empire Theatre is close by to see tonnes of shows (we got excited because we go there lots too!) and LIPA also has an impressive relationship with BBC world showcase.
Graduate conferences are put on every year where ex-students come back to share their experiences, things they’ve learnt and tips on how to prepare for the industry. Some grads even come back and work on some of our shows – “they just can’t stay away”, said Sarah jokingly! It’s important for Sarah that the students have connections in the dance industry from their first year at LIPA, which is why they’re always put them in front of pros. Keynote speakers come to a conference for the students and give real world advice and feedback on mock auditions. Sarah told us an impressive list of pros who’ve attended LIPA to help students, such as AMCK, Dancers’ Inc., Boss Creative Ents., Akram Khan and Matthew Bourne.
What do you Look for in a LIPA Applicant?
Our students are very committed to dance. It’s important to us that our students embody our passion that “you dance because you have to” – it’s not just a hobby.
We look for potential in a dancer, someone who’s on a journey which we can help them with. The audition has to be versatile encompassing: ballet, jazz, contemporary, commercial, freestyle and they also have to sing. We just want to see that future LIPA students have got guts and can show us their personality. Gutsiness in an audition shows us exactly what kind of student they’re going to be and also what kind of professional. It’s always easier to teach a student if they’re not afraid of making mistakes. That quality is of vital important in the dance industry.