Celebrating Interdependence on Independence Day
Here at Dance Spirit, we like to celebrate Indepen-DANCE Day with a feast of our favorite patriotic dance moments. Because what goes better with hot dogs and corn on the cob than a marathon of George Balanchine's Stars and Stripes on repeat?
This year, we're doing things a little bit differently. Don't get me wrong: We're still going to watch Stars and Stripes at least five times. But we're also going to take a little time today to celebrate our interdepen-DANCE. You guys, we're invited to a July 4th global dance party!
Here's the deal: There's this song called "We Are All Connected," which comes from the Children's Pop Musical Pacha's Pajamas. It honors the connection between kids and teens across the globe. For this holiday weekend, the producers of Pacha's Pajamas hope to take this message one step further. And what better way to celebrate interdependence than through the universal language (and our favorite language): dance?
Here's how it works: An online instructional video teaches simple choreography to the chorus of "We Are All Connected." And when we say simple, we mean SIMPLE. No worries: The verses are left open—so begin polishing your most impressive freestyle. Once you learn the choreo and plan your freestyle, get together with a group of friends and/or family and film your performance. Post the video to YouTube with #WeAreALLConnected and #PachasPajamas, and your video will be featured on the website. To get a better idea of the project, check out the trailer below:
So go ahead and pull grandpa away from the TV, little sister from the pool and dad from the grill and get your global groove on.
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.
Daphne Lee is a queen, and not just in the "OMG Girl Boss Alert" sense of the word. She's an actual queen—a beauty queen. Crowned Miss Black USA in August, she's been doing double duty as she continues to dance with the Memphis based dance company, Collage Dance Collective. Lee's new title has given her the means to encourage other black girls and boys to pursue their dreams, while also pursuing dreams of her own. The scholarship money awarded with the pageant title will assist her as she earns a Masters of Fine Arts degree at Hollins University.
When a choreographer finds a composer whose music truly inspires her, it can feel like a match made in dance heaven. Some choreographers work with the same composers so frequently that they become known for their partnerships. New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck, for example, has tapped composer Sufjan Stevens numerous times (last spring, the two premiered The Decalogue at NYCB, to rave reviews); L.A. Dance Project's Benjamin Millepied's working relationship with composer Nico Muhly has spanned a decade and two continents; and when tap dancer Michelle Dorrance premiered the first-ever Works & Process Rotunda Project, a site-specific work for New York City's Guggenheim Museum, last year, percussionist Nicholas Van Young was by her side as an equal partner. Successful collaborations require compatibility between artists, direct and honest communication, and flexible, open minds. But when the stars align, working with a composer can be extremely rewarding.
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!