In Alvin Ailey's Pas de Duke (photo by Siggul/Visual Arts Masters)
Alvin Ailey’s Antonio Douthit-Boyd is the epitome of power and grace in perfect harmony. Yet it’s his passion that captivates audiences. He honors his craft as a gift that was given to him when he needed it most.
Douthit-Boyd grew up in St. Louis, MO, where his family suffered financial strains. He spent part of his childhood at St. Louis Transitional Hope House, a place where homeless families retreat to rebuild their lives. One day, he followed the sound of drums to a dance class. This chance occurrence set off a series of events that landed him a scholarship at the Center of Creative Arts. He continued training at several respected schools and joined Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1999. In 2004, Douthit-Boyd joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, where he continues to dance today. See him onstage during the company’s 2013 season, which runs through January 5 at New York City Center. —Maggie McNamara
Thank you for being fearless by jumping into dance class that day and changing the path of your future. Even when your friends said dance wasn’t for boys, you insisted on staying. Thanks for being a dreamer.
Always remember the feeling in your gut after first witnessing Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, a work filled with inspiring motion and emotion. Hold on to the excitement you felt when you ran home to rave to your mom about this amazing company of all kinds of people, who move in a superhuman way. When you demonstrated the moves you saw, your mom disapproved. Thanks for not being discouraged. Instead, you went to your room, looked out your window and made a wish on the brightest star in the sky. Your prayer was to be a dancer and to see your name in lights, shining like those very stars. Thank you for having faith.
Douthit-Boyd as a teen (photo courtesy Antonio Douthit-Boyd)
Your prayer will be answered. Your passion will lead you on a journey of discovery. You’ll travel with one of the world’s most beloved dance companies—Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater—and have unexpected adventures, like walking the Great Wall of China, floating in the Dead Sea and meeting the President. You will have the opportunity to inspire others, as you were inspired, and your image on Ailey’s poster will be encouraging for other young men who question whether they should dance.
Maybe your friends and your mother would have been encouraging if they were aware of the possibilities. Even when no one understood, you listened to your heart. Be thankful for all the people who have been a part of your journey. Whether good or bad, all those experiences will be used to mold you into the strongest dancer and person you can be.
Most of all, thank you for dancing (and smiling)!
Much of Janelle Ginestra's career has been about helping others shine. She's dedicated herself to supporting and cheerleading her partner, WilldaBeast Adams; the emerging talents in their dance company, ImmaBEAST; and the countless dancers she inspires at master classes and conventions. Her YouTube channel has become a launching pad for young talents like "Fraternal Twins" Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala, thanks to viral videos featuring Ginestra's creative vision.
But Ginestra's a skyrocketing success in her own right—an in-demand choreographer, a social media influencer, and a dance entrepreneur, building a legacy one eight-count at a time. It's time for her turn in the spotlight. And she's more than ready. "I want to be a legend in whatever I do," she says. We'd argue that she already is.
For ballerinas, it's the dream role to end all dream roles: Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, the type of part dancers spend years preparing for and whole careers perfecting. And it's a role that New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck never thought she'd dance. Though Peck is one of the world's preeminent ballerinas, her short stature made Odette/Odile, typically performed by longer, leggier dancers, seem (almost literally) out of reach.
Then—surprise!—her name popped up on the cast list for NYCB's fall season run of Swan Lake.
Lani Dickinson's power, grace, and raw presence make her a standout with AXIS Dance Company, whose mission is to change the face of dance and disability by featuring a mix of disabled and non-disabled performers. Born in China, Dickinson was adopted by an American couple and started dancing at 8 in Towson, MD. She attended the Boston Ballet School for two summers, studied at the Idyllwild Arts Academy for the last two years of high school, and graduated with a dance degree from Alonzo King LINES Ballet's BFA program with Dominican University of California. In 2015, she joined AXIS and won a Princess Grace Award. Catch her this month during AXIS Dance Company's 30th-anniversary season—and read on for The Dirt!
Week five of "Dancing with the Stars" proved to be one of the best weeks of the season so far. (And we're not just saying that because Mickey made a cameo debut on the piano during one of the routines—although that certainly didn't hurt!) Everyone brought their A-game, and with such a fun theme the contestants were able to really let their guards down. There was true sincerity in their dancing that we hadn't seen before. But not all Disney stories end with a "happily ever after," and one couple still had to hang up their dancing shoes.
If there's one week you should watch all the routines of it's undoubtedly this one... But, ICYMI, scroll below for our highlights of the night.
Almost a month out, Puerto Rico continues to suffer the devastating aftereffects of Hurricane Maria. Many of the island's residents still lack power, clean water, and safe housing. Ballet classes? For Puerto Rican dance students, they must feel like an impossible luxury.
But a dance studio in Florida is working to allow a group of young Puerto Ricans to continue their training. And it needs your help.
Yes, I am a dancer, and yes, I am fat.
There's nothing quite as soul-crushing as the reactions I've received when I've told people I dance. They can range from disbelief to confusion to shock. To many people, it's somehow incomprehensible that a plus-size person like myself could grace a stage. While the body-positive movement has been trucking along at full force over the past few years, it hasn't made much progress in the dance community yet. In fact, the words "body positivity" and "dance" are almost never used together in the same sentence.
Despite that fact, dance is what helped me learn to love my larger frame. In honor of National Body Confidence Day, I wanted to talk about my first time in a studio, and about the tremendous progress I've made since.