You and I both know that dancing is the best thing since chocolate chip cookies! But its always nice when dance gets the recognition it deserves from non–dance-world peeps. That's why we did our own happy dance when we saw Shape magazine's article on how dancing can actually make you a better athlete.
Though ballet has come a long way from its early days, New York City Ballet corps member, Olivia Boisson—one of the handful of black dancers in the industry—says there's still plenty more that can be done to promote diversity within the art form. Boisson got real about her experience in an article for Women's Health, which discusses everything from Boisson's early training to her work with NYCB.
As New York Fashion Week comes to a close we're looking for ways to extend the glitz and glamour of the world's most fashionable event a little longer. And we're in luck because one of fashion's most iconic brands, Rag & Bone has given us some superb eye candy that we can replay to our hearts' content.
What's even better is this fashion film is a collaboration between some of the best dancers from multiple genres, and captures the fabulousness of fashion while incorporating some fierce choreography by none other than Benjamin Millepied himself. The dancer-turned-choreographer demonstrates his versatility as a co-director for the film and brings an edge that we've never seen before.
Alexandra Terry didn't always dream about pointe shoes and tutus. Though she took dance class as a child, it was competitive gymnastics that originally captured her interest. (She credits the powerful strength that undergirds her ballet technique to years of repetitive routines on beams and mats.) At 13, Terry started commuting an hour and a half from her home in Connecticut to NYC, so she could study at the Joffrey Ballet School. After training with Karin Averty and Irina Dvorovenko, she realized that ballet was her calling, and following a vigorous summer intensive at Ellison Ballet, she transferred to that school year-round so she could fully immerse herself in the art.
Now, as a Ballet West second company member, Terry is excited to be a part of the professional ballet world. "I was watching demi-soloist Katlyn Addison, who's also black, in rehearsal the other day, and I got so emotional seeing someone like me out there performing a lead role," she says. While Terry appreciates the racial progress the ballet world has made recently, she also recognizes the need for a constant push towards diversity. "You look around the room in some auditions and you don't see anyone who looks like you, which is just so isolating," she says. "I think the ballet world needs to give every dancer a chance to work hard and prove herself, no matter what she looks like."
George Birkadze spends some of his mornings as a guest teacher at Boston Ballet. But this ballet dancer and choreographer also spends much of his time training as a professional martial arts fighter. In fact, Birkadze has a black belt in not one but three different styles including Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo, and Kyokushin karate. (He's like a ballet ninja!)
Though martial arts and ballet may seem extremely different, Birkadze says the two actually share more similarities than you might think. Both require discipline, dedication, and daily training. In fact, Birkadze credits ballet for having helped him improve as a martial artist.
Take a good look at Skyler Semien, because she's an up-and-coming commercial dancer who's primed to take Hollywood by storm. A freshman at Georgia State University, the former competition kid has already appeared in her first feature film, Pitch Perfect 3, and has two more movies in the works.
How did this dancer end up in one of the biggest films of the year? Semien says it started with her dance training. Studying everything from ballet to contemporary, Semien started competing when she was only 6 years old. But in high school, she realized hip hop was her ticket to the commercial world, and decided to shift her focus. Soon, she'd signed with Bloc talent agency, and as a senior in high school, she was cast as one of the "new Bellas" in Pitch Perfect 3.
Though Semien's found success in show biz, don't expect her to drop everything and move to Hollywood. The multi-talented dancer is keeping her options open as she concentrates on getting her education. "Dancers are no longer just dancers; they're entrepreneurs, creative directors, musicians and actors," she says. And she believes education will breed the skills she needs to pursue those kind of opportunities.
We chatted with Semien about why she thinks so many dancers are pursuing additional careers beyond the dance world.
It's the day we've all been waiting for—"Step Up; High Water" has officially launched on YouTube, and everything about this series (from the dancing to the drama) is completely #savage. The show captures all the elements that made us fall in love with the original "Step Up" almost eleven years ago, while also introducing fresh and exciting new components.
We especially love how the creators use the show to shine a spotlight on real life issues teens struggle with, that aren't always addressed in mainstream media. Characters deal with everything from disabilities to coming to terms with their sexual orientation and finding self-acceptance. Creating a dance series that incorporates such weighty subject matter also adds another dimension to the dancing.