Dancer to Dancer
(Front) Kali Grinder (photo by Daniel Robinson, courtesy Grinder)

Former comp star Kali Grinder's stellar stage presence and graceful lines have served her well in her new life as a Broadway baby. She performed in Wicked on Broadway for one year, appeared on the show's national tour, and was a Rockette during The Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Currently, she's an ensemble dancer in the new musical Frozen. A Las Vegas, NV, native, Grinder started training at The Dance Zone at age 6. She briefly studied dance at Point Park University before heading to NYC to pursue her dreams. Catch her dancing with Anna and Elsa this month during the show's previews—and read on for the dirt!

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Dance Fashion
via Tory Sport

It's currently New York Fashion Week, which means it's the perfect time to gush over the merging of fashion and dance, yet again. We know we've said it a thousand times, but there's just nothing better than big brands tapping dancers for campaigns or runway shows.

The best collab of late? That would be Tory Burch Sport's latest collection theme, centered on ballet and modeled by a group of 2018 Juilliard dancers.

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Dancer to Dancer
Rachael Jones (photo by Jennifer Zmuda, courtesy BalletMet)

In 2011, after dancing with American Repertory Ballet and Nashville Ballet, Rachael Jones had decided to retire her ballet shoes. At that point, she was a sophomore at Florida State University, planning to major in political science and international affairs and to work for the State Department when she graduated.

But then another black ballerina changed Jones' path. A message from former New York City Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem dancer Andrea Long-Naidu popped up on Jones' Facebook page. "I was in shock that a woman who I had admired for so much of my life was looking at my profile," Jones says. "She told me she saw something very special in me, and that I should be sharing my gift, that I should be dancing." The two began corresponding regularly, with Long-Naidu offering encouragement and advice. Once Jones graduated, she accepted a contract with The Washington Ballet. "To this day, I will never be able to thank Andrea enough for that first message," Jones says. "I don't know that I would have returned to ballet without her generosity or persistence."

The Snellville, GA, native has been with BalletMet since 2016, and is known for her powerful presence and dynamic technique. She's also giving back to other young dancers through her work with Brown Girls Do Ballet. "When I went to summer intensives, I was usually the lone brown ballerina in my group," says Jones. "And I grew up pre–social-media, so it was definitely a struggle to feel so obviously different from my peers. I would have loved for there to have been something like BGDB when I was growing up."

Dance Videos
via YouTube

There were lots of great moments from last night's Super Bowl LII (hellooo, JT's FIERCE dancers). But one of the top (and most hilarious) highlights was NFL's commercial starring players Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr.

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Dance News
Jelani Alladin (left) as Kristoff and Patti Murin (right) as Anna in Frozen (photo by Deen Van Meer, courtesy Samuel Deangelis)

Everyone's favorite animated Disney movie—starring Anna, Elsa, Olaf, and, of course, "Let It Go"—is headed to the stage. Frozen begins previews this month at Broadway's St. James Theatre and will officially open in March. The good news? It'll feature all of your favorite movie moments. The even better news? There'll be tons more dancing in the show than in the film, thanks to choreographer Rob Ashford (of Thoroughly Modern Millie, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and live television events "The Sound of Music Live!" and "Peter Pan Live!" fame). Dance Spirit spoke to Ashford to get all the cool details.

Frozen begins previews February 22nd and opens March 22nd.

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Dance News
Dancer and choreographer Blake McGrath (photo by Samuel Deangelis, courtesy McGrath)

Renowned choreographer and dancer Blake McGrath is about to unveil a new project: a dance competition—in app form. Called Dance Diva Dance, the new game, coming later this year, will allow users to dance through various levels, picking their studio, avatar, and music, and create sequences of choreo to compete against other avatars. And once they've filled their trophy case, players will receive a ticket to a real-life exclusive event, where they'll have the opportunity to perform.

But first, the app is featuring a real-life contest for dancers, with a chance to become one of the Dance Diva Dance avatars.

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Dance News
Robbins (center) rehearsing West Side Story (photo by Friedman Abeles, courtesy Dance Magazine Archives)

Dancer and choreographer Jerome Robbins was undeniably one of the most important figures in American dance. He gifted the dance world with iconic ballets, including Dances at a Gathering, The Cage, The Gershwin Concerto, and New York Export: Opus Jazz, while simultaneously directing and choreographing some of Broadway's biggest hits, including On the Town, The King and I, West Side Story, Gypsy, and Fiddler on the Roof. October 11, 2018, marks what would have been Robbins' 100th birthday, and ballet companies are pulling out all the stops to celebrate throughout the year.

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Dancer to Dancer
Martha Graham Dance Company member, Marzia Memoli (photo by Sean Martin, courtesy Martin)

Marzia Memoli may be the Martha Graham Dance Company's newest dancer, but her classical lines and easy grace are already turning heads. Originally from Palermo, Italy, Memoli started studying at age 16 at the Academy of Teatro Carcano in Milan. Later, she attended the Rudra Béjart School in Lausanne, Switzerland, before heading to NYC in 2016 to join MGDC. This month, she'll perform The Rite of Spring in the Martha Graham Studio Series in NYC, and tour with the company in Florida. Read on for the dirt.

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