Brian's compliments make you leap!
If you’ve been following my blogs this week from The Pulse in New York City, you know this: Brian Friedman is tough, really tough. A compliment from him is enough to make a dancer leap in excitement … which I found out this week when I told Chaz Buzan, one of the 10 guys who is part of the Brian Friedman Intensive, that Brian had singled him out in a conversation with me.
“Really?” Chaz asked me, his eyes widening. “What did he say?”
“He told me you were part of a group of guys who are emerging,” I said.
“Yesss!” Chaz cried. His black hair flopped on his forehead as he jumped in the hotel hallway, landing squarely in front of Kayla Radomski. “Brian said I’m emerging!”
Kayla, who is Chaz’s partner in a featured duet in Friedman’s piece, could appreciate the magnitude of the compliment. Now 17, she met Brian at a dance convention when she was 11. He called her to the front at the end of his class, then visited her studio to teach the next year. Ever since, Brian has choreographed solos for Kayla and had her assist him in his teaching. She just graduated high school a year early and is planning to move to Los Angeles with her mother, Renee, to pursue a full-time entertainment career.
Earlier that day, Kayla, who has been represented by Anastasia Miller first at Bloc and now at Clear Talent Group since age 14, missed Friedman’s rehearsal to audition for Broadway’s West Side Story. She didn’t make the cut in part, the casting people told her, because she had Barbie-doll looks that made her stick out too much in a crowd.
Any rejection is disappointing, but I’m guessing Kayla, who does indeed have sunny blonde hair, can live with this one. She told me her ultimate goal is to be a superstar (put another way: NOT a performer who simply blends in). And Brian, her mentor, has clearly deemed her worthy of standing out. He chose her for that featured duet with Chaz, of course, and he also singled her out as one of his “leading girls.”
“They’re amazing,” he told me. “Every one of them is really the glue that’s holding the number together right now.”
For Kayla, Brian is a key connection that will help her when she makes the big move to Hollywood.
“I'm close with him and can talk to him about things,” she said. “He’s out there and he knows all about everything, so he can help me when I need some advice.”
You can be that advice will be right on point – even if it’s in the form of raw criticism.
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.