In "Emeralds" from George Balanchine's Jewels (photo by Erik Ostling)
Christiana Bennett’s grace, poise and pristine technique have fueled her remarkable dance career. The Ballet West principal has given flawless performances of many coveted roles, including Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty.
Originally from Massachusetts, Bennett trained at The Rock School (then affiliated with Pennsylvania Ballet), the School of American Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet School. She was invited to join Ballet West in 1999, and was promoted to soloist in 2003 and principal in 2004. Bennett gained even more recognition when she was featured on The CW’s reality show “Breaking Pointe” last year.
The Ballet West dancers return to TV screens this summer in the second season of “Breaking Pointe.” Salt Lake City fans can also see Bennett onstage in Ballet West’s “Innovations” program in May. —Megan Kirsch
Dear Younger Me,
There are so many things I would like to tell you, but the most important thing to remember is to stay true to yourself. Be truthful and honest at all costs. Never hide your genuine feelings. Always be kind to others even if they aren’t kind to you. You may never know what forces are shaping their lives. Compassion for others is key.
Listen to and learn from those around you. Absorb every experience you have, even if you don’t think it’s an important one. The sum of all your observations will make you the person you will become.
Try to remember people’s names when you first meet them. Listen wholeheartedly when they are speaking to you, and make sure you look into their eyes. They may be saying more than you realize.
As a teen
Your family is your support system. Don’t take it for granted. These are
the people who know you the best and will always stand behind you.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes—it’s the only way to learn. Make sure you
try new things. You’ll be surprised at how much your opinion can change about something once you’ve experienced it.
Always have fun and enjoy your life to the fullest. And remember, everything will work out for the best in the end, even if it doesn’t seem like it will at the time.
All my love,
Harper Watters is a ballet dancer for today's generation. A social media maestro and a charismatic performer, the Houston Ballet soloist is equally at home in front of the camera hosting his hit YouTube series, "The Pre Show"; interacting with fans on his crazy-popular Instagram account; or showing off his beautiful classical technique onstage. It's a multifaceted identity that's proven to be invaluable to his career—and it's taking him to places he never even dreamed of.
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.
When we think of a dancer who's broken barriers, American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland tends to be the name that comes to mind. And though Copeland has been a crucial advocate for equality in the world of ballet, Raven Wilkinson—a mentor of Copeland's—is considered one of the original pioneers of the movement.
In 1955, Wilkinson became the first African American to dance with the renowned Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Her fortitude in the face of bigotry and hate cemented her legacy. Now, with the release of the new children's book Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, a new generation of dancers will be inspired by her tale of overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream.
The book details Wilkinson's life, from her experience as a young dancer training in Harlem, to her run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan while on tour with Ballet Russe, to her later ballet career in Europe. "There were times where my heart really hurt because of the situations I had to deal with," she says. "But I always had faith that I was made to be a dancer and that I was gonna dance."
Dance Spirit spoke with Wilkinson to discuss the new book and get her take on racial equality within the ballet world.
Postmodern pioneer Trisha Brown redefined how dance is seen and felt. A founding member of Judson Dance Theater, Brown frequently collaborated with other experimental artists like Yvonne Rainer, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, and Steve Paxton.
She embraced pedestrian movement, pairing everyday gesture with rhythm and fluidity. "It's liquid," says Wendy Perron, who danced with Brown in the '60s and '70s. "Like a river with many tributaries, water coming out of a faucet, or being on a raft and seeing the water move away in different directions." Brown also pushed beyond stages with choreography in fields, museums—even on the sides of buildings.
There's a common misconception that a dancer's body has to be thin. But the truth is that talent knows no body type, and the number on the scale never determines an artist's capabilities. Here are some extraordinary dancers fighting the stereotype of what a dancer "should" look like.
We always love a good halftime performance. And we LIVE for halftime performances involving talented kids. (Fingers and toes crossed that Justin Timberlake follows Missy Elliott's lead and invites some fabulous littles to share his Super Bowl stage.)
So obviously, our hearts completely melted for 5-year-old Tavaris Jones. Tavaris may have just started kindergarten, but during Monday night's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, the Detroit native danced with the panache of a veteran pro at halftime.