Waking up in Vegas

Acceptance into rigorous dance program to take place of four-year college for senior


The decision to go into an art field is a difficult one for most students. Conservatory applications are competitive, and it gets to be even more so once students graduate from there.

However, after 15 years of dance, senior Audrey Holland said she decided to pursue her passion in a six-month Las Vegas program, the Theater Art Preparatory School (TAPS).

“You train six to eight hours [a day] Monday through Friday,” she said. “You do basically every single style dance-wise you can think of. The training comes from professional dancers — people you would know in the dance world. We also do commercial acting, Broadway acting, singing and makeup.”

This style of instruction is very different from a four-year dance or theater school, Holland said.

“Most dance schools only specialize in a couple of styles, so it [could be like a] contemporary school,” she said. “But if you want to be a jazz dancer, that’s not for you. It’s really great my place does everything, so I’ll be ready for anything.”

The choice to attend TAPS rather than a traditional school was a difficult one for her family to come to terms with, she said.

“My dad really wanted me to go to school and get a business degree” Holland said. “But I said, ‘Dad, I’m not going to be able to focus on what I really want to do if I do that. This is what I live for, this is who I am,’ and he agreed. They want what’s best for you, and when your life is going to be really unpredictable, it’s hard for them to grasp that.”

Holland said cost was another motivator to enroll with TAPS.

“Most dance schools are smaller, private and expensive,” she said. “As a dancer, you don’t get paid a ton. So if go somewhere like that and end up $200,000 in debt, how am I going to pay that back? This one is $15,000 for tuition, but you don’t have to pay for books or other school stuff.”

However, Holland said being accepted at TAPS was not a guarantee.

“[The director] accepts between 10-20 people,” she said. “He’s doing 16 for this upcoming year. We have 14 right now. It’s a pretty low acceptance rate. I know at least 20 people around here that applied but didn’t get in.”

Holland said she worked hard to land one of the few spots at TAPS.

“I had a resume, a headshot and a demo reel — that’s about two minutes of you performing all different types [of dance],” she said. “I did silks, jazz, tap, ballet, contemporary — all the stuff I am good at. It took a really long time to make the demo reel because you want to make sure you have great shots.”

The type of dance Holland said she wants to pursue fits the Las Vegas setting.

“I want to do concert dance, like dance behind singers when they’re on tour or in music videos,” she said. “Anything with the film and music aspect is what I want. Vegas is the new LA — there are a ton of jobs there now. It’s the heart of the dance world.”

Seeing the talent at TAPS in the beginning is what Holland said she was most anxious for.

“I’m nervous about the first week,” she said. “That’s when you see who’s good at what. It’s great to have people that are better than you because then you can push yourself to be like them. I’m scared to see what people will think of me. It’s going to be very different and unfamiliar.”

Despite her worries, Holland said the experience will be very influential.

“I’m most excited to be on my own,” she said. “I’m very independent, but I’ve never been all by myself. I feel like I can do it, and it will help build me up. I’m excited to pursue my dream.”