B-girl Ephrat Asherie Breaks Boundaries
In May 2006, hip-hop dancers and teachers Ephrat Asherie (based in NYC) and Kumari Lohar-Singh (based in Portland, OR) founded Dance for Peace: One Step at a Time, a cultural exchange program that uses urban dance to elevate underprivileged youth throughout the U.S. and across the globe. Last March, the pair traveled to Cape Town, South Africa, to teach dance to local students, and while there, they attended Freestyle Session, an international breaking event. They came back overwhelmed and inspired. DS asked Ephrat to share her experience with us. —Kat Holmes
Kumari and I believe that the essence of all urban dance is originality. As a dancer, you take pride in creating your own way of moving, of interpreting the music, of being, of thinking—and when you learn to appreciate this in yourself, you can learn to appreciate it in others. This leads to a mutual respect between people. It is this respect that leads to peace.
During Dance for Peace’s visit to Cape Town, Kumari and I worked side-by-side with Emile Jansen. Emile, along with his brother Tanswell and their partner, Fabian Petersen, founded Heal the Hood, an organization that leads hip-hop workshops and lecture demonstrations in the context of South Africa’s changing social, political and economic environment. The organization strives to teach youth how to attain personal peace, to value themselves and each other and to work toward a togetherness that will stop the racial divide that is still very apparent in Cape Town, and in the rest of South Africa.
Emile and his crew organized all of our workshops and drove us around the city. Kumari and I were able to teach more than 1,000 students of all different ages and backgrounds while we were there! We were amazed at how much energy and enthusiasm the participants had, even though some of them lead lives that are harsher than we could ever imagine. (South Africa has been ravaged by the AIDS epidemic, and many of Cape Town’s inhabitants live in extreme poverty.) We were inspired by our students’ openness to new movement and their drive to practice and improve. This trip confirmed our belief that urban dance is a powerful means to communicate with young people all over the world, instilling in them a strong sense of self-worth and respect for others.
At the close of our workshop, three parents offered to help create a permanent base for Dance for Peace in Cape Town. We’re also collaborating with Emile and his crew to create an ongoing program for kids to take dance classes throughout the year and become more involved in giving back to their communities. And this past summer, we brought two of our most promising students to NYC to train for one month. Back home in Cape Town, they are sharing the knowledge they gained during their stay by teaching in various townships, public schools and dance studios in the community. Kumari and I are extremely grateful for the positive experience we’ve had, and we’re eager to keep building an organization that lives up to its name: Dance for Peace.
Since the NYC premiere of Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream at American Ballet Theatre's spring gala Monday night, the DS editors haven't stopped talking about its creepy-cute sets and costumes, created by artist Mark Ryden. Well, the obsession is about to get even crazier, because we just heard that Ryden's artwork for the ballet is now on display in not one, but TWO locations in NYC.
Yes, yes, we know: Dancers are athletes as well as artists. But we haven't seen anything hammer home just HOW athletic dancers are quite as well as this video from Self magazine, which features American Ballet Theatre principal/fairy princess Isabella Boylston trying to teach top-level CrossFit enthusiasts ballet.
There's a reason Mia Michaels' nickname is "Mama Mia." The legendary choreographer invests deeply in her dancers, whether they're competitors on "So You Think You Can Dance," members of the Radio City Rockettes, or part of her own elite assistant squad. And now, Michaels is launching a project that aims to give more dancers access to her gifts as a teacher and mentor.
And that's a wrap on "Dancing with the Stars" Season 24, ladies and gents! It's certainly been one for the books. From injuries to shocking eliminations, let's just say Season 24 has had its emotional ups and downs. But despite all that, the season made for some seriously phenom dancing and some killer performances. And as usual, we've loved watching every second of those cha chas, foxtrots, and waltzes.
Let's get right to the exciting stuff, though: Last night's winning couple of "Dancing with the Stars" is...
Nearly 80,000 dance-loving Instagram followers can't be wrong: Quinn Starner is one to watch. And what's just as impressive as the 15-year-old's rabid online following is her ever-growing list of competition accolades. Quinn, who trains at Indiana Ballet Conservatory and Stars Dance Company, been named first runner-up at The Dance Awards for two years in a row (as a junior and a teen); was the 2016 West Coast Dance Explosion Teen National Champion; earned first place in contemporary and third place in the classical division at Youth America Grand Prix Regionals in Pittsburgh last year; has won the Grand Prix Award at ADC|IBC; and was a gold medalist at World Ballet Art Competition Grand Prix. Plus, she made it to the Academy round on last year's "So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation," and has performed as Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Here's what Quinn has to say about her favorite songs, teachers, and career highlights.
Want a chance to get personally involved in the HOTLY anticipated TV show "World of Dance"? Of course you do. That's why J. Lo. and the rest of the "WOD" team have launched an interactive version of the upcoming NBC series that lets Snapchatters get in on the action.
On Saturday morning, Russell Horning—aka 15-year-old Instagram king @i_got_barzz—was already kind of famous. His admittedly bad but weirdly mesmerizing dance videos had earned him shoutouts from the likes of Rihanna (and dance tributes from the likes of Josh Killacky).
But by Sunday morning? By Sunday morning, Russell Got Barzz had reached an entirely different level of memedom. Because Katy Perry tapped the teen—signature backpack and all—to perform "Swish Swish" with her on "Saturday Night Live." And the internet lost its darn mind.