A Dance Down Memory Lane
On an episode of "All the Right Moves"
When I was 16, I decided to get pretty specific about my life goals. "I'm going to be the editor in chief of Dance Spirit," I declared with conviction. So I made a plan—go to college, major in journalism, be on the dance team, move to NYC, get a job at DS, be wicked happy—and stuck to it.
Now here I am, seven years after moving to NYC, and I can proudly say that my big dream came true. I started at Dance Spirit as an editorial intern, got hired full-time as a web editor and, two years ago, was named editor in chief.
But once your dreams come true and you get to revel in them for a while, it's time to come up with new ones, right?
Today is my last day at Dance Spirit [tear!]. Without writing a long and super-sappy "last post," I'll just leave you with a few of my favorite memories...
Chaz, Mia and Ryan, on such a special day for all of us
2. Getting a mid-show wink from Ryan Steele. He was on as Rudolpho in Matilda on Broadway that night. I Tweeted him during intermission, and when he came back onstage for the second act, Ryan looked right at me in the audience, smiled and winked. My cheeks were red for about a month after that.
3. Seeing In the Heights four times—and getting to go onstage after the show! Thank you, Luis Salgado. (Catch him on Broadway now in Rocky!)
Can we petition to bring this show back to Broadway, pleeeeease?
4. The May/June 2014 cover shoot in L.A. with Mark Kanemura and Jeremy Hudson. Mark was so serious and Jeremy was so goofy, and their mutual admiration and adoration was downright adorable.
Mark and Jeremy showing their Dance Spirit!
5. Putting rising ballerina Juliet Doherty on the cover of the March 2014 issue. She’s a star. (Youth America Grand Prix agrees: Juliet won senior gold at the competition last week!)
That's Rachel Parkinson, bottom left, performing at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals with her studio, The Dance Club. I love her sassy little face in this photo so much that I cut it out and taped it to my computer monitor as a constant reminder to be as feisty as possible (er, when appropriate, at least).
7. The many magical moments at New York City Ballet. The company’s productions of Stars and Stripes and George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker changed my life...and all of my playlists.
8. Attending New York City Dance Alliance and The Dance Awards Nationals every summer.
All dressed up at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals in 2012
The talent there never ceased to blow my mind. Sarah Pippin’s “Black Hawk Waltz” solo in 2012 remains my all-time favorite performance.
Sarah Pippin's "Black Hawk Waltz" at The Dance Awards
9. tWitch and Allison. Their photo shoot, their cute cover story. Everything about them.
Hanging out with "The Boss Tribe" after a "So You Think You Can Dance" finale taping in L.A.
10. The only time I ever got starstruck at this job: when I literally rubbed elbows with Mikhail Baryshnikov in the Koch Theater lobby.
Thank you, DS, for the memories. It's been a total blast.
A super-fun cover shoot with the itty bitty Sophia Lucia
Harper Watters is a ballet dancer for today's generation. A social media maestro and a charismatic performer, the Houston Ballet soloist is equally at home in front of the camera hosting his hit YouTube series, "The Pre Show"; interacting with fans on his crazy-popular Instagram account; or showing off his beautiful classical technique onstage. It's a multifaceted identity that's proven to be invaluable to his career—and it's taking him to places he never even dreamed of.
The dancers who take our breath away are the risk-takers, the ones who appear completely fearless onstage. "When you see somebody trying to travel more, go farther, push the limits of their physical abilities, that's always going to be inspiring," says Ballet BC dancer Alexis Fletcher.
But dance training can feel like it's in conflict with that idea. We spend thousands of hours in the studio trying to do steps perfectly, and that pursuit of perfection can make us anxious about taking risks. What if we fail? What if we fall?
Luckily, fearlessness is a mental skill that you can work on, just as you work on your technique. Here's how you can learn to push yourself past your limits.
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
There are zillions of things to think about when choosing a summer program, but here's one you might not have considered: using an intensive as an opportunity to focus on a new style. Maybe you're a tap dancer who's ready to see where else your rhythm and quick feet can serve you, or a contemporary dancer curious about the more traditional roots of your genre. A summer program can be the perfect place to broaden your horizons, giving you the opportunity to make technical and artistic changes that stick throughout the year.
Happy birthday, George Balanchine! The great choreographer and founder of New York City Ballet would have been 114 years old today. Balanchine revolutionized ballet, especially American ballet—and he also had quite a way with words. To celebrate Mr. B's birthday, we rounded up some of our favorite iconic Balanchine quotes.
There's a common misconception that a dancer's body has to be thin. But the truth is that talent knows no body type, and the number on the scale never determines an artist's capabilities. Here are some extraordinary dancers fighting the stereotype of what a dancer "should" look like.
When we think of a dancer who's broken barriers, American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland tends to be the name that comes to mind. And though Copeland has been a crucial advocate for equality in the world of ballet, Raven Wilkinson—a mentor of Copeland's—is considered one of the original pioneers of the movement.
In 1955, Wilkinson became the first African American to dance with the renowned Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Her fortitude in the face of bigotry and hate cemented her legacy. Now, with the release of the new children's book Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, a new generation of dancers will be inspired by her tale of overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream.
The book details Wilkinson's life, from her experience as a young dancer training in Harlem, to her run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan while on tour with Ballet Russe, to her later ballet career in Europe. "There were times where my heart really hurt because of the situations I had to deal with," she says. "But I always had faith that I was made to be a dancer and that I was gonna dance."
Dance Spirit spoke with Wilkinson to discuss the new book and get her take on racial equality within the ballet world.
Postmodern pioneer Trisha Brown redefined how dance is seen and felt. A founding member of Judson Dance Theater, Brown frequently collaborated with other experimental artists like Yvonne Rainer, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, and Steve Paxton.
She embraced pedestrian movement, pairing everyday gesture with rhythm and fluidity. "It's liquid," says Wendy Perron, who danced with Brown in the '60s and '70s. "Like a river with many tributaries, water coming out of a faucet, or being on a raft and seeing the water move away in different directions." Brown also pushed beyond stages with choreography in fields, museums—even on the sides of buildings.