Dance = Making Friends for Life
With Jules (left) during NYCB's intermission
Before the curtain rose on New York City Ballet's Saturday matinee of Coppélia, I glanced to my left and noticed that my friend sitting next to me, Jules, was bobbing her head to the ballet's overture. I laughed—I was doing the same. It's funny how music that we all dance to can get in our heads and just stay there. Jules and I did parts of the ballet at our home studio—probably 15 years ago—and we could have gotten up and performed the choreography we learned right there in the audience. (I'm sure the people behind us were thankful we stayed seated.)
No surprises here, but back then, Jules and I looked nothing like the stars we saw Saturday, especially the lovely Tiler Peck and Lauren Lovette. (When I grow up, I'd like Tiler's port de bras and Lauren's banana feet, please!) In our day, we barely looked like the kids onstage in Act III. But seeing those 24 School of American Ballet cuties on Saturday brought back a lot of memories. It also made me think about how lucky we dancers are to have a group of friends—friends, outside of acquaintances at school or work, who will be there for us whenever, where ever.
Me and Jules in a studio showing in our early days.
I don't remember meeting Jules. I started ballet at age 4—she was 5—and I guess that was it. She's just always been there. As we got older, we both had our separate lives: We lived in different school districts so we each had our during-the-week groups. (A few of Jules' school friends also started to take ballet with us—they all became my "ballet friends," too.) I also started taking classes at a few other studios in the area, but one thing was certain: My ballet friendships from the beginning had real staying power.
A partial cast photo of Main Line Ballet's (our studio's) take on Coppélia. I'm the one in the pink tutu on the right. Gotta love those shiny tights!
We went our separate ways after high school—Jules went to college in Pennsylvania (a few hours from home) and I headed up to The Boston Conservatory. We kept in touch and saw one another over some holiday breaks, though the distance plus hectic college lives made it tough.
After a recital, YEARS ago. I'm on the right in yellow, with Jules in red and my baby sister, Julia, in front.
Now that we're both out of school and more settled, we've been able to visit with each other more often. It's pretty cool to see how different all of my ballet friends' lives have become, and how we're still able to continue our friendship—and share a continued interest in dance. Today, Jules lives in Philly and just got her PhD in environmental science, and she teaches biology at Drexel University. And of course, I'm at Dance Spirit in NYC! We both take dance classes when we can—the last time Jules visited we took class together. It was just like old times.
Most of the gang after a spring recital in high school. I'm in white—Jules is on my left and Julia is on my right.
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.
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.
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.
The coolest place she's ever performed:
I'd have to say the Super Bowl. The field was so cool, and Katy Perry was right there. And there were so many eyes—definitely the most eyes I've ever performed for!
Something she's constantly working on:
My feet. I'm flat-footed, so I'm always hearing, 'Point your toes!' And I'm like, 'I am!'
My hair! That, and a pair of leggings with a T-shirt or tank top.