With his reedy, praying-mantis-like body, Billy Barry isn’t someone you’d pick out on the street as a dancer. But get him onstage and you’ll understand why the 22-year-old Juilliard alum earned a spot in Israel’s prestigious Batsheva Ensemble. Billy has something larger than technique: He’s an intimately arresting, delightfully odd performer who seems to speak his own mysterious language. In other words, he’s an alien—the coolest alien you’ve ever seen.
A native New Yorker, Billy first discovered dance at a local studio near his hometown on Long Island. Serious ballet training at the Eglevsky Ballet soon followed, and as a teen, he enrolled at Manhattan’s Professional Performing Arts School. While at PPAS, he began to hear the siren call of Juilliard. “I just knew it was where I belonged,” he says. The feeling wasn’t immediately mutual: Billy was waitlisted when he applied to Juilliard his senior year. Suddenly unsure of his future, he auditioned for the European tour of West Side Story and was cast as Baby John. But before he could jump on the West Side bandwagon, Juilliard called: He’d made the final cut.
At Juilliard, Billy was a standout from the beginning. “First you notice him because he’s so striking physically—then you see that he has this extraordinary imagination,” says Lawrence Rhodes, director of Juilliard’s Dance Division. And it was at Juilliard that Billy first met Batsheva director Ohad Naharin, who set excerpts from his works MAX and Three on the students during Billy’s sophomore year. In Naharin’s Gaga technique, which emphasizes image-based improvisation, Billy found a home. “Ohad added this extra ingredient to my dancing,” he says. “I stopped obsessing about technique. If you hang on to technique, you may be beautiful to watch, but you won’t be very exciting. And I’d much rather be exciting than beautiful.”
During his senior year at Juilliard, Billy had another dream-come-true moment: Naharin asked him to join the Batsheva Ensemble. Two months after graduation, Billy moved to Tel Aviv to begin working with the company. “It’s amazing—it’s a job that feels nothing like work,” he says. “It’s just playtime.”
Birthday: September 23, 1989
Dance idol: Martha Graham
Three words that describe your dancing: Spastic, off-kilter, quirky
Three words that describe your personality: Flamboyant, loud, chatty
Hidden talent: “I can make this goose-honk noise. The problem is if I cough or laugh really loud, that noise just happens, usually at some inappropriate moment.”
Who would play you in a movie: Dakota Fanning
Advice for DS readers: “See all kinds of dance—even if you’re not familiar with the company performing. I’d never heard of Batsheva before Juilliard!”
Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2017 Cover Model Search finalists: Haley Hartsfield, Kaylin Maggard and Michelle Quiner! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's October 2016 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below.
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Performing on a Broadway stage might seem glamorous, but it comes with one of the most grueling schedules a dancer can face. Maintaining your stamina and energy, warding off injury and keeping the material fresh for eight shows a week is no joke. So how do dancers do it? Dance Spirit talked to ensemble members from some of Broadway's danciest shows to get their survival tips.
You should know Leiomy Maldonado's name, because she's shaped the way you dance. Called the "Wonder Woman of vogue," the trailblazing artist was the first transgender woman to appear on "America's Best Dance Crew," as part of the Vogue Evolution crew. And her signature "Leiomy Lolly" hair flip has inspired everyone from Beyoncé to FKA Twigs to Willow Smith to, odds are good, your own teachers and choreographers. (Smith even asked Maldonado to appear in the video for "Whip My Hair," to show the world how to do the flip properly.)
Now, Maldonado is the star of a new Nike ad celebrating the queer and transgender dancers who form the heart of the voguing community. Directed by Daisy Zhou, the spot is narrated by transgender artist Precious Angel Ramirez, and showcases Maldonado's extraordinary skills, as well as those of several other dancers from the vogue scene.
...This clip, "'Hamilton' Choreographer Breaks Down His Moves," popped up on my YouTube recommended list. I mean, I could watch Hamilton's dance wizard Andy Blankenbuehler talk about anything. Have you read our interview with him back when he was making the moves for Bandstand? The guy is freaking fascinating.
Great contemporary choreographers and soulful singer-songwriters have always made for a perfect match. That's why we were thrilled when we found out "SYTYCD" and "Dance Moms" choreographer Kristin McQuaid created the music video for "Light the Sky," a hit single from "America's Got Talent" winner Grace VanderWaal.
A lot of ballet men play around a little in pointe shoes—to get a feel for what their partners are experiencing, or just because they're curious.
But Houston Ballet's Hayden Stark, Derek Dunn, and Daniel Durrett aren't playing.
They're SLAYING. SO. HARD.
It's finally summer, which means you're probably spending as many long days outside in the sun as you are in the studio. You might think a quick mist of SPF 30 will do the trick, but there's a lot more to that number—and to sunscreen, in general. Here, we break down the sunscreen basics to keep your sunkissed skin safe.