The University of Louisiana Lafayette Performing Arts program opens its 2017-2018 season with a production of Tom St
Dance major Lydia Young is not shy about crediting the UL Lafayette performing arts program with helping her land the biggest gig of her young career: a role in Beyoncé’s visual album “Lemonade,” which premiered this past weekend.
“My training in the UL dance program definitely helped me with this audition,” Young says. “From day one when I first got here in fall 2011, they always told me to network with any and everyone I came across during my college years because those are the people being trained for the next generation of dancers, actors, journalist, directors, etc. You just never know who you may need or who will become the next big thing. I'm glad that I actually listened to them and put myself out there.”
Young attended an invitation-only audition, received a call back for a second audition, and then learned the role was for a Beyoncé video.
“The audition was about 3 hours long and we had on heels the entire time. I've never danced in heels before so that was definitely a challenge for me,” she says. “But thanks to the UL Dance program, my body was well conditioned for me to make it through.
“I definitely surprised myself because I wanted to give up on day one before the audition even started,” she adds. “I just felt like I wasn't good enough, but my training from UL proved otherwise.”
Young appears in the “Sorry” portion of the visual album, where dancers are sitting on benches inside a school bus with Beyoncé. In that part of the visual album, you may see another familiar face: UL Lafayette public relations major Diamond Smith was cast alongside Young in the video.
The two dancers didn’t learn their choreography until they arrived on set.
“I thought I would just be standing around, but once we got in the bus, the choreographer turned to me and another dancer and said, ‘Learn this, then teach the other girls when they get on the bus,’” Young recalls. “At first I was scared, but then I remembered that this very moment is what I was trained for. You can actually see me and the other girl teaching them in a clip of the video.”
As for her time on the set, Young says the experience was one she’ll never forget.
“Everyone was kind and helpful. No one treated me any different because I was an extra and not one of Beyoncé’s dancers,” she says. “Some dancers dream of opportunities like this and I'm proud to say that I no longer have to dream.”
In the UL Lafayette dance program, students are required to audition for the two large productions every year: State of LA Danse and Evening of Dance. Having so much experience in auditions gave Young the knowledge she needed to have a successful audition for Beyoncé’s video.
“What I've learned from these auditions at UL is how to conduct myself in a professional setting,” Young says. “Although we are not masters of dance yet, we receive pre-professional training that prepares us for the dance industry. I've gone through this process many times and it gave me a keen eye to what choreographers look for when you learn the dance phrase they teach for the audition.
“We are trained to be very attentive and independent dancers. You must always, always try to be ahead of the game because there's a thousand more dancers auditioning for the same spot. If I prepare for the things I can control, I can have a clear mindset for the audition.”
You can watch Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” on the music streaming website TIDAL or purchase it on Amazon or iTunes.
Photos courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment.