An Independence Day Throwback Thursday
Usually on the 4th of July, we like to post a beautiful video of our favorite America-themed ballet, Stars and Stripes. I, of course, would have chosen that time it was featured in best-dance-movie-ever Center Stage. ("Those pirouettes were amazing. Amazing and tiring, huh?" Oh Jodie, so naive.)
Anyway...while searching for videos, I remembered a number on "America's Got Talent" a few years back that was really touching. It, too, was America-themed, and it used Pilobolus-like shadow work to bring landmarks across the USA to life. If you don't remember, they were The Silhouettes from Rocky Mountain School of Dance in Arvada, CO. Here's the number:
Pretty cool, huh? I spoke to choreographer Lynne Waggoner-Patton shortly after the kids' "AGT" appearance, and she told me how difficult it was to choreograph in shadows. "There are things you can get away with as a dancer that you can't get away with when you're behind the screen. Every little detail matters—your angle, your turnout and how far you are from each other," she says. "Plus, we can’t really see what we’re doing in the studio, because we only have 12-foot ceilings and our screen is 18-feet high. We have to rent a theater if we want to see what we’re actually making!"
And here's a fun fact: The screen The Silhouettes perform with has a name! It came from Italy, so the dancers call it "Monte Pietro" or "Mountain Peak" in Italian.
Happy 4th, dancers! I hope this video gets you into the spirit of the day.
The groundwork for Erin Carpenter's company, Nude Barre, began when she was a teenager. At 16, she earned a spot in the residency program at The Kennedy Center in partnership with Dance Theatre of Harlem. "We were required to wear nude—as in, our actual skin tone—tights and shoes," she remembers. Carpenter brought her "sun tan" tights and a pair of pink ballet shoes with her, because that was all she could find. But she wasn't allowed in class because her dancewear didn't match her skin. "I was so embarrassed," she says. "I looked unprepared. I just didn't have the right nudes." Her teacher explained that the dancers dyed their tights and pancaked their shoes.
There are dancers and then there are DANCERS! Whitney Jensen, soloist at Norwegian National Ballet, is the latter. The former Boston Ballet principal can do it all. From contemporary to the classics this prima has the technical talent most bunheads dream about. Need proof? Look no further.
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's dance inducing hit, "Despacito," is so catchy it should probably come with a disclaimer that warns people of an uncontrollable itch to tap your feet or bob your head. Some might even feel inclined to go all out and break it down. Niana Guerrero is a prime example of "Despacito's" uncanny ability to unleash the red dressed emoji dancer within. 💃🏽 💃🏽
Guys, we all knew this was coming—"World of Dance" was eventually going to eliminate someone. But man, is it brutal to watch these talented dancers give their all, only to be sent home. It's the name of the game, though, and after last night's episode, only two dancers per division remain. (At least Misty Copeland guest-judging was a silver lining!) Here's what went down last night:
They've impressed the judges, now it's time for the Top 100 dancers to enroll at The Academy—and to impress the All-Stars. Welcome to So You Think You Can Dance Academy!
The 100 dancers who made it through auditions in NYC or L.A. are now at The Academy, which is basically a beautiful building with floor-to-ceiling windows. The show opens with that Mandy Moore-choreographed Academy routine which, even after watching it 12 times and trying to learn all the choreography at home, is still delightful.
This Nationals season, Dance Spirit followed four talented dancers from The Dance Awards, NYCDA, Showstopper, and Starpower for an inside look at everything that goes into the biggest competitions of the year. First up: Isabella Torres from Mid-Atlantic Center for the Performing Arts in Baltimore, MD, who competed at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals for the first time this year. (All photos courtesy Shannon Torres.)
Merritt Moore is a ballerina who just so happens to be graduating from Oxford University with a PhD in quantum physics. Is she even human? The jury is still out on that - but the 29-year-old, who earned her undergrad degree from Harvard, has actually found dance to be a powerful tool that assists her in her studies.