Animating Dance: Glen Keane's Duet is a True Masterpiece
Believe it or not, I'm not gonna gush about my love of animation dance today (as much as I would love to bombard you with a plethora of Marquese Scott videos). Instead, I want to talk about something equally mind-blowing: animated dance.
Artist and animator Glen Keane worked with Disney for 38 years; he's the mastermind behind beloved characters such as Aladdin, Ariel, the Beast, Pocahontas, Tarzan and Rapunzel. Since leaving Disney in 2012, Keane has been working on a new project: an animated short for Google Advanced Technology and Projects' Spotlight Stories.
Duet, Keane's short and the third story in Google's series, follows the lives of Mia and Tosh, whose paths weave and intertwine as they grow up. The result? A sweet and charming pas de deux of sorts. Much to our delight, Mia becomes a beautiful ballerina at several points throughout the film. But here's the thing: It's entirely composed of graphite drawings—10,555 drawings, or 60 drawings per one second of animation, to be specific. That's a lot of drawings.
Can you imagine breaking up each second of a grand jeté, for example, into 60 frames? How about a pirouette? You've got to have a serious understanding of movement to accomplish that successfully. And Keane does just that.
In a lecture at the California Institute of the Arts last January, Keane explained the extremely involved process of animating dance. His take home message? It's the in-between moments—the moments that take you from standing to grand jeté—that really count. He calls it the "juice" behind the pose. Sound familiar? Perhaps dance and animation aren't all that different, after all. (To watch the full lecture, click here. We highly recommend it!)
And now, without further ado, our feature presentation, Duet:
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.
Happy #WorldEmojiDay, dance friends! 🎉 👯 🎉 👯
Because it's just the cutest, we thought we'd share the emoji challenge the Royal Opera House is currently hosting on Twitter. They've retold a series of ballets (and operas, for that crowd) in emoji form. If you correctly guess the name of a ballet, you'll be entered for a chance to win two tickets to a ROH production.