TCU School for Classical & Contemporary Dance (SCCDance) alumnus Joe LaLuzerne ’21 was selected to dance at one of the field’s most prestigious professional dance training centers this summer, Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, Mass. He was selected as one of 11 dancers from hundreds of applications worldwide to perform with the school’s Contemporary Ballet Ensemble. As part of its pandemic protocol, The Pillow — as it’s commonly known — brought the 11 dancers to the venue in advance, so they could form a “bubble” to safely dance unmasked.
LaLuzerne, who graduated in May with a BFA in Ballet and a BA in political science, was one of only two university-affiliated dancers chosen for the ensemble. His selection for the opportunity directly after his time at TCU demonstrates the SCCDance’s professional preparation of its students.
“Being able to attend Jacob’s Pillow immediately following my graduation was very gratifying,” said LaLuzerne. “It validated the work that I had done and the connections that I had made during undergrad. It proved to me that I can hold my own in the professional world.”
As part of the Contemporary Ballet Ensemble, LaLuzerne worked for two weeks with leading choreographers both in person and virtually. At the end of the program, the ensemble performed excerpts from their ballet technique class and two premieres from choreographers Amy Seiwert and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa.
The School at Jacob’s Pillow, which strives to evolve the artistic growth of the next generation of dance artists, is selective in any year, but LaLuzerne noted the challenges of applying and auditioning during the pandemic.
“The application process was intense,” he said. “They asked me to film a center barre and class, including variations and contemporary solo work. I had to compile this along with a short video introduction detailing [my] desire to dance at The Pillow and how it would contribute to [my] growth and artistry.”
LaLuzerne said dancing at Jacob’s Pillow was a lifelong dream.
“When I found out that I had been accepted, I was surprised and so happy,” he said. “It was, again, validating. Knowing the history that those studios hold and [thinking of] the dance giants who came before me — who have worked, created and shared there — was something so intangible, yet awe-inspiring,” he said.