A Dream Come True at The Pillow
Last June, five exceptional young dancers from the New Orleans Ballet Association’s Center For Dance got the chance of a lifetime—to perform at the world-renowned Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, MA. And that’s not all! Their debut at The Pillow was the high point of a three-week, four-city tour that had them performing, taking classes, visiting universities and attending performances. They explored the many dance offerings in each place, while discovering what it’s really like to tour as a professional. Three NOBA instructors (who are also professional dancers) and two musicians also performed and traveled with the group.
“Dance is a source of refuge for these dancers,” says Suzanne Hirsch, director of education for the New Orleans Recreation Department and the New Orleans Ballet Association. “This experience created a sense of community among them”—no small feat considering that all five girls were displaced for about a year after Hurricane Katrina destroyed their homes in 2005.
Thanks to individuals and dance groups who reached out to NOBA after Katrina— and lots of hard work and fundraising on NOBA’s part—the five students were able to perform at the National Dance Education Organization conference in Mobile, AL, with MNR Dance Factory in L.A. and at The Pillow.
“So much of what’s in the news about New Orleans today is negative,” says Hirsch. “It’s about the crime that’s happening here. We wanted to show the world that there’s actually a lot of good in New Orleans as well. There is extraordinary talent in the arts and positive young people who are doing great things.”
Gavanne Jasmine Davis, Zuzanna Mrozek, Courtney Ross, Jonesha Spears and Jasmin Simmons (as well as their teachers, Meredith Early, Maritza Mercado-Narcisse and Lisa Keskitalo) exemplify all that is good about the Big Easy. They’re articulate, smart and talented, and served as wonderful ambassadors for their city while out on the road. They also continued to be the recipients of extraordinary kindness. One 13-year-old MNR Dance Factory student, Katie Meyers, even asked that her fellow dancers donate to NOBA in lieu of giving her gifts for her bat mitzvah.
For 15 years, the partnership between the New Orleans Recreation Department and NOBA has provided 6,000 kids ages 6-18 with year-round comprehensive dance programs for free. In addition, it provides employment, professional development and artistic experiences to local artists.
“Because of NOBA, I know what I want to do and what it will take me to get there,” says Davis. “I know that I have to put my best foot forward all the time to achieve my goals.”
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!
Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.
We always love a good halftime performance. And we LIVE for halftime performances involving talented kids. (Fingers and toes crossed that Justin Timberlake follows Missy Elliott's lead and invites some fabulous littles to share his Super Bowl stage.)
So obviously, our hearts completely melted for 5-year-old Tavaris Jones. Tavaris may have just started kindergarten, but during Monday night's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, the Detroit native danced with the panache of a veteran pro at halftime.
The coolest place she's ever performed:
I'd have to say the Super Bowl. The field was so cool, and Katy Perry was right there. And there were so many eyes—definitely the most eyes I've ever performed for!
Something she's constantly working on:
My feet. I'm flat-footed, so I'm always hearing, 'Point your toes!' And I'm like, 'I am!'
My hair! That, and a pair of leggings with a T-shirt or tank top.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
For a long time, I was the strongest dancer at my studio. But this year there's a new girl in my class who's very talented, and my teacher's attention has definitely shifted to her. I'm trying not to feel jealous or discouraged, but it seems like my whole dance world has changed. Help!
In the dance world, Mandy Moore has long been a go-to name, but in 2017, the success of her choreography for La La Land made the rest of the world stop and take notice. After whirlwind seasons as choreographer and producer on both "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance," she capped off the year with two Emmy Award nominations—and her first win. Dance Magazine caught up with her to find out how she's balancing all of her dance projects.
Marzia Memoli may be the Martha Graham Dance Company's newest dancer, but her classical lines and easy grace are already turning heads. Originally from Palermo, Italy, Memoli started studying at age 16 at the Academy of Teatro Carcano in Milan. Later, she attended the Rudra Béjart School in Lausanne, Switzerland, before heading to NYC in 2016 to join MGDC. This month, she'll perform The Rite of Spring in the Martha Graham Studio Series in NYC, and tour with the company in Florida. Read on for the dirt.