Christopher Wheeldon

Wheeldon works with Royal Ballet dancers on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Thanks to his innovative pas de deux, skillful use of space and lush musicality, Christopher Wheeldon has become one of the ballet world’s most in-demand choreographers. Born in Somerset, England, Wheeldon trained at The Royal Ballet School before joining The Royal Ballet in 1991. He soon moved to NYC to dance with New York City Ballet, but eventually realized that choreography was his passion, and became NYCB’s first resident choreographer in 2000. Seven years and 16 ballets later, Wheeldon founded his own company, Morphoses, for which he choreographed six more ballets. He left Morphoses in 2010, and his already busy freelance career picked up even more speed. Last spring, he choreographed the hugely popular Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for The Royal Ballet and The National Ballet of Canada. Today, you can see Wheeldon’s dances performed by nearly every major ballet company in the U.S.  —Amy Smith

Dear Younger Self,

Just a few words of wisdom, now that I have grown up a bit and have some ballets under my belt. First of all, if a great choreographer like Sir Kenneth MacMillan gives you advice, listen. Remember when Sir Kenneth said to practice your craft and take every opportunity you can get? Do it! Oh, and he said not to worry if the ballets aren’t all good. He was right—they won’t be—but that’s OK, because every new ballet, good or bad, holds the key to the next idea, the next good one. It may take three, four or five trips down

the road, but don’t give up. You’ll find it!

Watch other choreographers—how they work, how they translate music into dance—and, as you’re a dancer yourself, see the ballets you dance from the inside out. Feel the music. This will be the key to your choreography as

you develop.

Finally, be good to your dancers. Allow them the freedom to create with you. Sometimes they’re wrong, but when they’re right it can be magical. Choreography is about collaboration, and dancers are much more than bodies there to be created on. Draw out their personalities in the movement.

Older But Only Marginally Wiser,

Christopher Wheeldon

via ew.com

P!nk, known for her high-flying, acrobatic awards show sets, has literally raised the bar for pop stars everywhere. For her performance at last night's American Music Awards, P!nk decided to break out some flips and tricks ON THE SIDE OF A BUILDING. WHILE FLAWLESSLY SINGING HER FACE OFF. You know, just casually, like you do when you're a full-on goddess.

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Double leg amputee, Eric Graise dancing (via Youtube)

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New York City Ballet in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker (via @nycballet on Twitter)

We all suffer from Nutcracker fatigue sometimes. After a zillion performances, it's hard not to. But there's nothing to restore your little-kid sense of Nutcracker wonder like a look at the sheer scale of a world-class Nut.

New York City Ballet's iconic production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker opens on Friday, and for the past week, the company has been Tweeting out some seriously eye-popping #NutcrackerNumbers. The stats cover everything from the number of jingle bells used on each Candy Cane costume (that'd be 144) to the watts of light used in the show's grand finale (ONE. MILLION. WATTS.).

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Dancer to Dancer

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Popular
(Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy BAE)

Consistent turns are a must for aspiring professional dancers, but pretty much everyone struggles with pirouettes at some point. Luckily, since we're all beholden to the same rules of physics, there are concrete steps every dancer can take to reach his or her top turning potential. “Three is the new two when it comes to pirouettes, but the secret to turning is technique, not magic," says Bojan Spassoff, president and director of The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia.

Falling out of your doubles? Aspiring to go revolution for revolution with your class's star turner? No matter where you lie on the turning spectrum, our 360-degree guide to pirouettes will help you improve.

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Dancer to Dancer
Ray Batten (left) teaching class at Wagner Dance and Arts in Mesa, AZ (courtesy Batten)

You rehearse your group routine to perfection, but when the big performance rolls around, everyone turns into speed demons. It's the runaway-train effect—and it only takes one loud tapper, or zippy turner, to throw the whole group off the music.

While nerves and excitement are partly to blame, the ability to keep to tempo begins in the studio. A well-developed sense of musicality is your best defense against the dreaded speed trap. "When you understand how the steps fit with the music, going too fast won't just feel like rushing," says Jeremy Arnold, lecturer of tap at the University of Texas at Austin. "It'll feel wrong." How can dancers develop that musicality? It all starts with learning to listen.

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Watch This
(via @tran247fitness on Instagram)

Have we mentioned lately how much we love dance dads? Especially ones who show up to their daughter's ballet class sporting a tutu, like Thanh Tran.

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Thinkstock

You've seen it a million times: A glamorous, toned dancer posts a perfectly styled shot of her colorful smoothie bowl. The caption gushes about how great you'll feel if you eat "clean"—but what does that actually mean? DS asked registered dietitian/nutritionist Rachel Fine and holistic health coach (and founder of The Whole Dancer) Jess Spinner for all of the dirt.

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Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morgan

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.comfor a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

I'm being bullied by one of the girls at my studio, and it's awful. I've talked to my dance teacher and confronted the bully directly, but it hasn't made a difference. What should I do?

Faith

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Dancer to Dancer
Angela Sterling

Bunheads, this one's for you. They say you can tell a Nutcracker by its "Snow" scene—and we fully believe it. There are so many versions with extra goodies—olive branches! Fake snow! Sleds! Choirs! Snow queens!—and each brings a special something to the holiday favorite. But do you know which ballet has what?

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