Olivia Manno is an Assistant Editor at Dance Spirit.
I don't know about you guys, but I'm still #shook. Like, beyond shook. I mean, remember when this season's "DWTS" cast was announced? Remember when we basically called it that our former cover girl (and "Glee" superstar and Beyoncé backup dancer) Heather Morris was gonna win it all? Yeah, that's not happening—Morris and her partner, Maks Chmerkovskiy, were sent home last night. So while that news sinks in, let's talk about the amazing dancing that happened (because there was lots of it, despite the crazy elimination). On to the dancing and the stars!
Team Girl Group vs. Team Boy Bands
I'm a sucker for lots of things, but specifically coordinated outfits, giant neon signs that say "Ladies Night" and the iconic TLC masterpiece, "No Scrubs." Seeing as the Team Girl Group dance had all of those things, it's getting a big shoutout. Team Boy Bands gets one, too, because they were equally as amazing, and it's not their fault they had #NoScrubs to dance to.
Normani and Val's Salsa
To say this dance was a highlight is an understatement—Normani can bring the heat. She and Val were living their best life out there. Her dancing skills are amazing to begin with, but her performance skills are literally beyond. The duo easily executed some super-tricky partnering and flips for a score of 38/40.
Heather and Maks' Rumba
If you look up "Perfect Rumba," chances are the example would be this video. Maks Chmerkovskiy is the definition of an attentive and trustworthy partner. Seriously, this dance was incredible. Every moment was picture-perfect, every flick of the wrist and développé was precisely timed, and every step was fused with musicality. Naturally, the judges felt the same way and gave the pair a well-deserved 40/40.
But apparently, perfect scores mean nothing and everything is a lie: Heather Morris and Maks Chmerkovskiy, aka The Couple That the Entire World Thought Would Win, were eliminated. It's a whooooole new ball game in the ballroom, so be sure to catch next week's recap—it's bound to be a very interesting episode after this shake-up.
It's an amazing feeling when everything in class just clicks—everyone's dancing full-out, the energy's high and the choreo just flows. It's even more amazing when a camera captures it all, and your favorite #BoySquad's slaying the choreo, AND the class is Tricia Miranda's.
That's exactly what happened the other day at Millennium Dance Complex, where Sean Lew, Gabe De Guzman, Will Simmons, Josh Price and TreVontae Leggins shut. it. down. Lucky for us, Gabe and Will shared the insanely ridiculous results on Instagram. You can't fake this kind of energy—it was some kind of #lit over at MDC. #BoySquad, we bow down to you.
if u did not show up to @1triciamiranda class that night, u missed out on one of the most mind blowing classes ever 💯🙌🏼 the energy in class blew the roof off the place 🔥🔥 love dancing with these insane aliens 👏🏼 @bigwillsimmons @seanlew @officialjoshprice @treydakiddbomb20 #OGBobbyJohnson 😈
A post shared by Gabe De Guzman (@gabedofficial) on Apr 21, 2017 at 1:56pm PDT
So this is what you missed in @1triciamiranda amazing class the other day!!!!!!!🙌🏾😭 The energy in the room was so insane and free!!!!💥🔥 We do this cause we love it!!!❤️ Dancing with my brothers @gabedofficial @seanlew @officialjoshprice 🤙🏾😜#ogbobbyjonhson #bigwillsimmons #dance #freestyle #triciamiranda
A post shared by Will Simmons (@bigwillsimmons) on Apr 21, 2017 at 1:16pm PDT
When it comes to winning combos, it's hard to beat ballet and black and white. Need proof? Watch this absolutely mesmerizing video for Justin Peck's new ballet, The Decalogue.
The latest from NYCB's always busy, undoubtedly superhuman resident choreographer seems to have all of the "Peck-isms" we've come to love, from super unique formations that appear as quickly as they disappear, to visually delicious shapes carved out by the über-talented NYCB dancers. The trailer's also shot on grainy film, giving the whole thing a nostalgic, romantic vibe that we're absolutely loving. But the best part? The Decalogue marks Sufjan Stevens' second original score for Peck and NYCB (Stevens composed the music for 2014's Everywhere We Go). We won't spoil the rest, so do yourself a favor and check it out below.
Question: When does Sophia Lucia have time to sleep? Everyone's favorite comp-star-turned-bunhead seems to be diving headfirst into a new project every week. We absolutely #bowdown to everything she does, and her latest project is no exception. Behold: "Unscathed," a new dance series on Sophia's YouTube channel.
We're not entirely sure if there will be multiple episodes, or if they'll all be dance videos. But if this first installment is any indication, it's going to be absolutely amazing—you can't go wrong with choreo by Travis Wall, artistic direction by Ricky Palomino, and Michael Dameski, Josh Stevens and Riley Kurilko as your dance partners (seriously—their dancing was 🔥 💯). We don't want to spoil the whole thing, so catch it in full below!
Whether you're fighting mid-morning hunger, the midday-slump or mid-rehearsal stomach grumbles, we've rounded up the best things before, during and after dance class to eat to keep your energy up and your hunger down.
1. Protein-Packed Snacks
If you're just about to head to rehearsal in the morning, your body will need protein to power through the long day. Think string cheese, cottage cheese or yogurt.
2. Complex Carbs
According to Rachel Fine, registered dietician and founder of To the Pointe Nutrition, things like lentils, wheat bulgur, quinoa, wheat berries and barley give your body sustained energy. "I recommend primarily nonbread carbohydrates, because they offer the highest fiber content, which is good for digestion," says Fine.
3. Breakfast for Dinner
If you get home late from the studio, don't ignore your hunger pangs and go to bed without eating—scramble some eggs! When paired with a toasted slice of whole grain bread, the protein from the eggs and the carbs from the toast help release an amino acid called tryptophan—crucial for triggering the good kind of drowsiness!
You might think of sports bras as a super-durable garment—you just throw it in the washer and dryer, and it's fine, right? Not quite. We asked Lori Kaplan of Bra*Tenders in NYC for her expert tips on prolonging the life of your sports bras.
1. To Wash or Not to Wash?
Kaplan recommends washing your sports bra after every use if you sweat a lot, so the sweat doesn't break down the bra fibers. But if you only wore it for a less sweaty activity, then you can skip a wash.
2. Two Is Better Than One
Like pointe shoes, keep a few bras in rotation so you aren't relying on only one to get you through a busy weekly dance schedule.
3. All Good Things Come to an End
Keep in mind that the average lifespan of a sports bra is six months to a year with normal wear and tear. If you're past that time frame, it might be time to buy a new one!
You may remember meeting Gabriel Hyman in 2015, when he was a student in The Ailey School Summer Intensive Program. He had a lot of wisdom back then, offering up some great advice on dealing with injuries (which still holds true today!). It should come as no surprise, then, that Hyman's now dancing with Ailey II. Dance Spirit caught up with him as he prepares for the company's season, talking about everything from the rehearsal process to pre-performance rituals (and doling out even more great advice).
Hyman giving us life on the company's promotional poster (photo by Kyle Froman, courtesy Ailey)
Tell us a little bit about this season! What kinds of pieces will you perform?
This season you can expect to see two exciting, diverse, and powerful programs. The first program includes three world premieres: Circular, choreographed by Jae Man Joo; Stream of Consciousness, choreographed by Marcus Jarrell Willis; and Sketches of Flames, choreographed by Bridget L. Moore. The second program, “Contemporary Favorites", includes a new work, Meika, choreographed by Leila Da Rocha, and returning works from last year's season: Jean Emile's In & Out, Jamar Roberts' Gêmeos, and Ray Mercer's Something Tangible.
What has the rehearsal process been like for this season's world premieres?
It's been very fun and very challenging! Jae Man Joo, who choreographed Circular, has a very quick, specific and detailed movement vocabulary. Initially, it was difficult to grasp his unique and quirky style. But the company learned to have “heartfelt conversations through movement" as an ensemble, which is similar to the theme of the piece.
Stream of Consciousness choreographer Marcus Jarrell Willis was a breath of fresh air. His movement is gestural and his piece challenged us to explore the different aspects of the mind. He encouraged us to make his movement as genuine and as personal to us as possible, which made the process so enjoyable. It also makes the piece fresh and a little different every time it's performed.
Bridget L. Moore's Sketches of Flames is fast, fiery and passionate. It's a flamenco-influenced work, and this process was different than our past processes—Bridget assigned several movement tasks, including "sketching": In the early stages of the process, she has us "sketch" out our names in the space through our own movements. She transformed these into several phrases throughout the piece. She incorporated these assignments throughout the piece, which really made the work feel like it was ours. She challenged us to really utilize space through movement, and used the idea of passion and love in a series of duets and ensemble work—in turn, this piece is very fun and very romantic.
What's the best part about dancing with Ailey II?
Having the incredible opportunity to travel domestically and internationally, and perform on stages around the world! I have had the chance to see parts of the world that I never imagined: Canada, Italy, Spain and France, among many. We've even had the opportunity to perform for former President Barack Obama in Hanover, Germany!
What are you most excited about for this season's performances?
I'm most excited to perform Jae Man Joo's Circular. In this work, we feel most connected as an ensemble. At the very end of the piece, there's a moment where I circle around the stage and have the opportunity to look each company member in the eye. This is followed by a group phrase danced in unison, ending with the company breathing in one accord. I always get emotional, because the company moving and working together as a family is truly beautiful—I look forward to it every night.
Is there anything you're nervous about?
Probably opening night. It's always a nerve-wracking performance because it's the first time performing the new works in NYC, Ailey II's home city. The audience is filled with family, friends and dance critics, and these are some of the hardest audience members to perform for. But this extra healthy nervousness keeps me on my toes and helps me perform my best.
What do you think audiences will take away from this season?
They'll take away a well-rounded and diverse evening of contemporary ballet, flamenco-inspired, jazz and contemporary dance performed by a powerful, energetic, mature, fresh and versatile group of young talented dancers!
If you could describe this season in three emojis which would you pick?
What's your pre-performance ritual like? How do you calm any butterflies?
While putting on my makeup before a performance, I like to listen to Frank Ocean, Beyoncé, Sam Smith or Drake, to get in the “zone." As a company, before every performance we circle up and breathe in and out together, then say a prayer. This calms any butterflies I might have and really prepares my mind for the performance.
What's a piece of advice you want to share with our readers?
Never give up and always work hard to follow your dreams, no matter how difficult it gets. Being a part of Ailey II has impacted my career significantly. It's taught me some of the most important lessons about being a professional dancer and being a part of a professional company. Having the opportunity to travel has also allowed me to learn about different cultures and arts around the world. But none of this would be possible had I decided to give up or choose a career that was “more promising" or “conventional." If you put in unconditional effort and work extremely hard, you're capable of achieving anything you put your mind to.
For more info on Ailey II's NYC season, head to their website!
There are few things we love more than adorable dance couples, especially when one-half of that couple is our very own 2016 Cover Model Search winner, Briar Nolet. She and her boyfriend Myles Erlick, known to fans everywhere as "Bryles" (<3), aren't just the cutest couple—they're easily the most talented (take, for example, their last sizzling collab). It's no surprise, then, that the duo's newest video is out-of-control amazing.
For starters, the location is literally jaw-dropping—I mean, ocean view, infinity pool and giant marble patio? Check, check and check. The song, a cover of Julia Michaels' "Issues," is performed beautifully by Walk off the Earth. And when these two start dancing, they truly go all out. We don't want to give it all away, so check out the full thing below!