The Four Toxic Girls You'll Meet at Every Competition
A few years ago, 16-year-old Kayla Gonzalez found herself dancing alongside a mean-spirited girl. “She could be so rude," says Gonzalez, who trains at The Dance Zone in Henderson, NV. “It got worse at competitions. She'd make up lies, saying my teammates and I were doing things we weren't. She was always trying to get ahead." Sound familiar? A competitive environment can bring out the very worst in some dancers' personalities. When put in a stressful situation, students can become bossy, overdramatic or downright mean. Here, DS breaks down four toxic types you might encounter, and offers tips on how to respond.
What she does: Pushes to be front-and-center; monopolizes teachers' time and attention; acts like she's the most important member of the team.
How to deal: Try to focus on what you need, in spite of the diva. “I tell my dancers, 'You do you.' Don't take that person's behavior personally," says Noel St. Jean, an instructor at Artistic Dance Conservatory in East Longmeadow, MA. The diva may be acting that way in an effort to make the most of her competition/convention weekend—but you deserve a spectacular experience, too.
Veteran convention teacher Mandy Moore agrees, and adds an extra tip for handling convention class space-hogs: “When someone is being bigger, it might make you feel like you have to take up less space. That's not the case. Use that person's confidence as inspiration."
What she does: Corrects and nitpicks everyone else.
How to deal: If one of your peers is constantly offering corrections backstage during a competition or while you're trying to focus in convention class, and it's setting your nerves on edge, “Keep in mind that this person might be genuinely trying to help!" Moore says. A micromanager's anxiety about her own performance can manifest as a need to critique others to make sure everything's perfect.
Rehashing choreography as a group can stop nitpickers from taking over. If you're in the wings, St. Jean says, “You're going onstage as a team. In that moment, it doesn't matter if, six months ago, the choreographer said, 'Do it like this.' Take a vote and agree to stick to it." You can ask specific questions at your next rehearsal.
If the micromanager is commenting on your technique in convention class—especially if it's not a correction you're getting from the instructor—it's okay to politely change the subject. “I might say, 'Thanks. Let's go over that when we're back at the studio on Monday,' " Gonzalez says.
The Debbie Downer
What she does: Expects the worst—and shares her fears with anyone who will listen.
How to deal: It can be a real bummer having a Debbie Downer in your group. Unfortunately, some dancers process their stress by dwelling on worst-case scenarios. St. Jean remembers one student who had nightmares about forgetting her competition routine and running offstage: “She'd say, over and over, 'I'm going to mess it up.' " If you're not careful, that doom-and-gloom attitude can infect everyone.
Fight back by going overboard with positivity. “Nothing stops negativity better than a wall of positive energy," St. Jean explains. “The more upbeat and excited and encouraging you all are, the less likely it is that you'll see that person start to fade." You may even be able to help her forget her worries and look on the bright side, too.
What she does: Acts super-sweet and supportive—until you're about to go onstage.
How to deal: Are you getting the competition cold shoulder from someone you consider a friend? This can feel terrible, especially when you value her encouragement and support. Before you decide your friendship is toast, consider how she usually handles pressure. “Some people just shut down," St. Jean says. “They're not trying to be rude." Maybe your friend needs some alone time in order to get in the right headspace to perform. If this is the case, things will probably return to normal once the pressure's off.
“I do think it's okay to say, 'You hurt my feelings,' " Moore says. But ask yourself: Is this something you want to hash out in this high-stakes environment, or can it wait until you're back home? If getting into an argument will ruin your competition experience, it might be a good idea to brush it off.
The Bottom Line
It never hurts to talk to an authority figure when someone's being toxic. “I'm a big advocate of sticking up for yourself," Moore says, “but these situations often benefit from a mediator." A teacher or a chaperone can resolve disagreements and give students individualized strategies to handle their nerves in a healthier way. They can also issue formal behavior warnings, if necessary.
If all else fails, remember that you're in control of how you respond to negativity. “Ask yourself, 'If Person A was gone, how would the competition feel different?' " Gonzalez says. “Once you realize, Wow, I'm letting her take this and this away from me, it's easier to let go of the frustration. Competitive dance is supposed to be fun!"
Some might say Charlize Glass' fame kicked off with a single three-letter word. In 2014, Beyoncé shared a video of the then–12-year-old dancer performing to "Yoncé" on Instagram, along with a simple caption: "WOW!"
But by that point, the hip-hop mini had already performed at the MTV Video Music Awards and on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," and won first runner-up with her crew, 8 Flavahz, on "America's Best Dance Crew." And her Queen Bey Insta shout-out wasn't even the pinnacle of her tween career: She earned a spot on The PULSE On Tour as an Elite Protégé for the 2014–2015 season, and performed with Missy Elliott at the Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show in 2015.
These days, the 16-year-old spends her time touring the country as Brian Friedman's assistant at Radix Dance Convention and blowing up YouTube and Instagram with her class-video cameos. And while the Char Char we fell in love with was a hip-hop cutie pie, the more mature artist we see today is sure to rock the dance world for years to come.
For some it's a holiday tradition, for others its an iconic spectacle, but no matter the reason, more than 1 million people will watch the Rockettes perform in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular each year. And though the production has been around since 1933, much of what goes on behind those velvety curtains and intricate sets remains a mystery. To curb our curiosity and find out what ensues when these leggy ladies aren't doling out their sky-high kicks, we got a backstage tour from the legends themselves.
From hair and makeup, to warm-up exercises, and costume quick changes (the fastest quick change in the show is a #mindblowing 75 seconds, by the way) we got a glimpse into the glamorous (and sometimes not so glamorous) world of the Rockettes.
If you follow ballet darling Juliet Doherty on Instagram—which you probably do—you already know that the two-time Youth America Grand Prix gold medalist is a self-proclaimed "plant-powered ballerina." Doherty has followed a vegan diet for four years now, and though she never forces her lifestyle on her followers or IRL friends, she does love sharing her daily eats and the plant-based meals and snacks that help her perform at her best. Curious as to what that entails? Here's a day in the life of Juliet's meat-and-dairy-free diet.
In the summer of 2006, Heidi Groskreutz and Travis Wall performed a showstopping Mia Michaels routine on “So You Think You Can Dance" Season 2, a piece now remembered simply as “The Bench Dance." It was arguably the first time this particular dance style had been shown on live TV—a style both graceful and quirky, driven by storytelling and deeply felt emotion.
It was, in other words, the mainstream world's introduction to contemporary. And it earned “SYTYCD" one of its first Outstanding Choreography Emmy Awards.
Contemporary dance has come a long way (baby). While the style has been around for decades, as of late it seems to be everywhere. Today you can see contemporary choreography on concert stages (Shaping Sound's tour has been a massive hit), on TV (it's the favored style on “SYT" and pops up regularly on “Dancing with the Stars"), in films (remember Kathryn McCormick's character in Step Up Revolution?), in music videos (including Sia's viral films starring Maddie Ziegler) and even on Broadway (Michaels took her talents to the Great White Way for Finding Neverland).
The possibilities for contemporary dance seem to be endless. But how should the style keep evolving, and what has it outgrown? To find out, we talked to some of the contemporary world's most influential names.
As a tap dancer, you're a student of history—whether you know it or not. Tap technique today is intimately connected to the great hoofers of the past. "Tap is incredibly personal, because all of these individuals have added to the public domain, the pool of steps you draw from," says Brian Seibert, dance critic for The New York Times and author of What the Eye Hears: A History of Tap Dancing. "You're constantly giving shout-outs to dancers who came before you."
It's also important to recognize tap's pioneers because they repeatedly broke down barriers, making tap accessible to everyone. "You don't have to overcome something to be here," says Tony Waag, artistic executive director of the American Tap Dance Foundation. "You're not the first black person or woman, you don't have to carry a certain card or have a particular lineage to succeed at tap. Gregory Hines used to say, 'If you have the shoes, you're in.' "
Come meet the artists who've shaped tap history. Because if you're a tap dancer, they're your family, too.
What's better than a good dance joke? They're corny, they're punny, and they're exactly what you need to get you through long Nutcracker days. These 10 jokes are guaranteed to put a smile on your face—no matter how much your feet are hurting.
"So you Think You Can Dance" Season 14 finalists Lex Ishimoto and Taylor Sieve shocked fans at home (at least the ones who hadn't thoroughly scoured their respective Instagrams) during Episode 14, when choreographer Mia Michaels asked if either of them had ever experienced "the kind of love that takes your breath away." They confessed that, yup, they had—with each other. The two met at The Dance Awards in the summer of 2016, where they were each named Senior Best Dancer, and went on to tour with the convention as assistants. Before long—and long before their "SYTYCD" journey—they became a couple.
Take a look at Dance Spirit's exclusive interview where they dish on everything from their favorite dates to the dance moves that give them all the feels.
There's a surprising twist to Regina Willoughby's last season with Columbia City Ballet: It's also her 18-year-old daughter Melina's first season with the company. Regina, 40, will retire from the stage in March, just as her daughter starts her own career as a trainee. But for this one season, they're sharing the stage together.
Yes, we all know dancers are strong. But sometimes it takes a truly epic workout video to remind us JUST HOW INSANELY STRONG they actually are.
Behold, National Ballet of Canada principal Svetlana Lunkina's oh-so-casual pre-class exercise: