Where Choreographer Molly Long Finds Inspiration
Molly Long is the rare prodigy who grew up to be even more brilliant. At the ripe old age of 16, Long (now 25) took charge of the minis at her home studio, Dance Precisions, in Southern California, leading the team to big wins at Nationals. It wasn't long before she was traveling the country to choreograph and teach. Long's infectiously musical, explosive yet clean style has been seen on "Dance Moms," "America's Got Talent," "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition," "Raising Asia," and at New York Fashion Week. Since 2015, Long's been touring with Revel Dance Convention and growing her Orange County–based company Project 21. Read on to find out where Long finds inspiration for her many winning numbers. —Helen Rolfe
Long with Moises Parra at Disneyland (courtesy Long)
I was born and raised in Orange County, CA, and still live there today. People are always envious of the idea of California. They feel like you can do so much more because L.A. is so close, and that out-there ideas are more acceptable because it's such a laid-back region of the country. Having spent so much of my life here gave me the creative freedom I need to do what I do.
I work with a choreographer named Noel Bajandas on Revel. He's so fabulous; I love his vibe and his energy. Every time I watch a combo of his, I want to learn it, I want to dance it. The feeling I get when I watch his choreography is the feeling I want people to get when they watch mine.
Long (left) with Emily Shock (courtesy Long)
Emily Shock is my most important mentor. I really respect her, not only for the way she choreographs but also for her integrity, which I know can be hard in this industry. Whenever I have an issue—a personal issue, a dance issue, anything—I always know I can go to her.
Late, late at night is when I feel most creative. Even when I was 16 and was just getting started choreographing, I would always go into my bathroom and listen to the music at one in the morning. Maybe it's something about the sleep deprivation that hits at that hour, but that's when the ideas and plans and outlines come.
One of Long's paintings (courtesy Long)
I grew up an artist—I even took AP Art when I was in high school! I love painting, especially landscapes. Anything colorful and beautiful inspires me. I paint when I'm really stressed-out and have a lot going on with the dance side of my life, just so I can do something that isn't directly dance-related.
A version of this story appeared in the February 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Choreographer's Collage: Molly Long."
Misty Copeland. Her name is synonymous with exquisite artistry and outspoken advocacy. And her visibility has made a huge impact on the ballet world. Ballet's relationship with race has always been strained at best, hostile at worst. But Copeland's persistent message and star quality have finally forced the ballet industry to start talking about racial diversity, inclusivity, and representation. "The rarity of seeing ourselves represented is sad," Copeland says. "The more we see every hue and body shape represented on the stage, the more possibilities young dancers feel they have for themselves."
The Olympics are always full of inspiring Cinderella stories, where athletes no one had heard of mere months ago end up blowing all expectations out of the water, and maybe even nabbing a medal in the bargain. But we've recently caught wind of a different kind of Cinderella story—and it's one we really, really hope shows up in the Closing Ceremonies of the PyeongChang Olympics, airing tonight on NBC starting at 8 pm Eastern/5 pm Pacific time.
Being a dancer comes with the task of having to entertain the same questions over and over again from those outside the dance world. Of course, we love having our friends and family take an interest in our passion—but if someone asks ONE MORE TIME whether or not we've met Travis Wall, we might just go crazy.
Here are 10 questions that dancers hate getting asked.
Contemporary phenom Christina Ricucci has super-flexible hips, which means she can stretch her legs to unbelievable heights. But when she noticed herself making contorted positions in class, Ricucci realized she was approaching her extensions all wrong. "I went back to the basics in class, squaring my hips and using my turnout," Ricucci says. "I learned to create proper positions, rather than whacked-out versions of them."
Some dancers are so wonky they have a hard time supporting their high legs, while others struggle with limited flexibility. But no matter your facility, you can find a balance of stretch and strength to achieve your fullest range of extension. It's not about how high (or not) your legs can go: It's the quality of the movement, and how you get those legs up, that counts.
Last month, we asked why there wasn't a Best Choreography category at the Oscars—and discovered that many of you agreed with us: Choreographers should definitely be acknowledged for their work on the super-dancy movies we can't get enough of.
Now, we're taking matters into our own (jazz) hands.
We've decided to create a Dance Spirit award for the best cinematic choreography of 2017. With your input, we've narrowed the field to four choreographers whose moves lit up some of the best movies of the year. Check out our nominations for best choreography below—and vote for the choreographer you think deserves the honor. We'll announce the winner on Friday, March 2.
Once upon a time (until the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi concluded, to be exact), figure skaters had to compete to music without words. Before this rule change, a skater faced an automatic point deduction if the music even hinted at vocals. Understandably, there were *a lot* of Olympic programs skated to classical music, and you'd tend to hear the same music selections over and over and over.
There are plenty of current Olympic figure skaters who'd make beautiful dancers (first among them Adam Rippon, whose gorgeously choreographed long program won the internet, if not the gold). But today, as we wait for the women's figure skating competition to crown its new champions, we wanted to throw it back to one of the most beautifully balletic skaters of all time: Sasha Cohen.
The high-flying leaps of grand allegro are meant to be incredibly exciting. But at the end of an intense ballet class, when you're exhausted, it can be hard to give them the attention they deserve. Want to pump up your big jumps? Follow these 10 vital tips from Jennifer Hart, curriculum director and instructor at Ballet Austin.