Choreographer Jeri Slaughter on Hitting it Big
- First Gig: At 12 years old, Slaughter stopped playing sports so he could join Kid’s Jam, a youth dance company affiliated with Step One Dance Academy in Sacramento.
- Summer in the City: The summer before graduating high school, he won a full scholarship to The Ailey School in NYC, where he spent three months taking class from 9 am to 7 pm daily.
- Disciplines Studied: jazz, ballet, tap, Horton, Graham, hip hop, African
From Dancer to Dance Maker
- New Direction: When Slaughter was working as a dancer in L.A., Tina Landon, whom he had worked with on many projects, asked him to assist her on a job. He started thinking about choreographing when she asked for advice and suggestions on moves. “Just for her to be asking me was a privilege,” he says. “It had me on my toes, and it felt good.”
- Big Break: While assisting Landon with choreography for Christina Aguilera, Slaughter received the Dirrty single from the pop princess, who wanted to go in a new direction. She asked him to come up with some moves and liked what she saw. His choreography for Aguilera’s Dirrty video eventually earned him MTV Video Awards nominations for Best Choreography and Best Dance Video.
- Backlash: Intense media scrutiny of Dirrty had many in the biz believing Slaughter only choreographed racy moves. He remained optimistic about the publicity, grateful that it made him more well-known, and defended his movement choices. “When you choreograph something, you choreograph to the treatment of the video, or what the director or artist wants,” he says. “That, at the time, was what Christina wanted, and I’m proud of her for doing what she loves and not looking back at it. She’s a true artist.”
- Recent Projects: At presstime, Slaughter had just returned from Argentina, where he filmed six commercials for Kohl’s. When he arrived home, he was asked to teach workshops in Las Vegas for dancers in Celine Dion’s A New Day…, which regularly hires outside choreographers for new movement styles and techniques.
- Advice to aspiring pros: “Learn as much as you can. As a choreographer, I would rather cast someone [who] can do all types of dance forms than someone who’s just focused on hip hop or jazz.”
It's time to get your pirouette on! From September 5th to September 30th, we're hosting a contest to find out who's the best turner of them all.
Put together your most impressive turning combo. Post a video online. Share your turns with us and thousands of other dancers around the world. And if our editors think you're the top turner, you'll win a fabulous prize.
All of 18-year-old Kaylin Maggard's dreams—from scoring the title of National Senior Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals to winning the 2017 Dance Spirit Cover Model Search—are coming true. And to anyone who knows the gorgeous contemporary dancer, that's no surprise.
From the moment the Dance Spirit staff met Kaylin, it was obvious her humility and talent would take her far. Not only did she go full-out during the photo shoot and class at Broadway Dance Center, but she was always cheering on, laughing with, and supporting her fellow CMS contestants Haley Hartsfield and Michelle Quiner. During the voting period, the social media world was abuzz with praise for her work ethic, positive attitude, and generosity.
Since her CMS trip to NYC, Kaylin's moved from her hometown of Columbia, MO, to the Big Apple for her freshman year at Juilliard, and is busy getting acquainted with the city. As for the future? She's taking it one opportunity at a time, but something tells us we'll be seeing this contemporary queen reach new heights every year.
Instagram star Kylie Shea has built a following of nearly 170,000 with her playful workout videos, which combine traditional fitness activities, like jumping rope or running on the treadmill, with pointe shoes and sassy choreography. Shea's effortless cool-girl-next-door vibe and solid ballet technique make her vids totally irresistible.
Now Shea's using her platform to address the body image issues that tend to plague dancers. In a poignant video, she sheds her clothes and tugs at her skin. The caption explains her relationship with her body and the pressure she feels to maintain a certain aesthetic as a dancer.
Physical discomfort is inevitable when you're spending tons of hours in the studio every day, but some pain shouldn't be suffered through. "Dancing through pain can make an injury worse and lead to more time away from dance," says Dr. Joel Brenner, medical director of dance medicine at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk, VA. "Failing to rest and recover when you're in serious pain could even lead to the point where you're unable to dance in the future."
That may sound scary, but there's good news: If you take precautions and listen to your body, many injuries can be stopped in their tracks. The first step? Knowing what's normal—and what's not.
Think about it: How often do you see a ballet pas de deux for two women? Almost never, right? Sometimes, choreographers will forgo the traditional danseur-ballerina pas to make a duet for two guys, since they can lift and partner each other easily. But a dance for two ballerinas is a rare thing.
That's part of what makes "Duet," a new video by director Andrew Margetson featuring Royal Ballet beauties Yasmin Naghdi and Beatriz Stix-Brunell, so compelling.
"Dancing with the Stars" pro Lindsay Arnold has become a mainstay on the hit show—this fall marks her ninth season! America has fallen in love with her larger-than-life stage presence and vivacious personality. Specializing in Latin ballroom, Arnold trained in Utah with teachers including fellow "DWTS" veterans Shirley and Mark Ballas. After high school, Arnold planned to study physical therapy on a full academic scholarship at Utah Valley University—until landing a spot on "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 9. Catch her on Season 25 of "DWTS" this fall!
J.Crew's putting a whole new spin on its brand —literally. The popular clothing line's inspired ad campaign has a group of cute male models showing off their best moves in a series of playful dance battles. When we saw one of those models throw down the gauntlet with a rather impressive series of chaîné turns, we knew he had to be a trained dancer, and we were right: He's former New York City Ballet corps member Joshua Thew. Dancer and model Smith Reesie also shows off in a seriously impressive freestyle.