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.
Well, this brings class videos to a whole new level! Choreographer Phil Wright and dancer Ashley Liai have been together eight-plus years, but she was still in total shock when he proposed to her mid-dance at Millennium Dance Complex earlier this week. Why? Well, the whole thing was unbelievably perfect.
In the dance industry, dancers don't always have a say in what they wear on their bodies. This can get tricky if you're asked to wear something that compromises your own personal values. So what should you do if you find yourself in this sticky situation? We sat down for a Q&A with "Dancing with the Stars" alumn Ashly Costa to answer that very question. Here's what she had to say about the options dancers have surrounding questionable costumes.
The groundwork for Erin Carpenter's company, Nude Barre, began when she was a teenager. At 16, she earned a spot in the residency program at The Kennedy Center in partnership with Dance Theatre of Harlem. "We were required to wear nude—as in, our actual skin tone—tights and shoes," she remembers. Carpenter brought her "sun tan" tights and a pair of pink ballet shoes with her, because that was all she could find. But she wasn't allowed in class because her dancewear didn't match her skin. "I was so embarrassed," she says. "I looked unprepared. I just didn't have the right nudes." Her teacher explained that the dancers dyed their tights and pancaked their shoes.
There are dancers and then there are DANCERS! Whitney Jensen, soloist at Norwegian National Ballet, is the latter. The former Boston Ballet principal can do it all. From contemporary to the classics this prima has the technical talent most bunheads dream about. Need proof? Look no further.
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's dance inducing hit, "Despacito," is so catchy it should probably come with a disclaimer that warns people of an uncontrollable itch to tap your feet or bob your head. Some might even feel inclined to go all out and break it down. Niana Guerrero is a prime example of "Despacito's" uncanny ability to unleash the red dressed emoji dancer within. 💃🏽 💃🏽
Guys, we all knew this was coming—"World of Dance" was eventually going to eliminate someone. But man, is it brutal to watch these talented dancers give their all, only to be sent home. It's the name of the game, though, and after last night's episode, only two dancers per division remain. (At least Misty Copeland guest-judging was a silver lining!) Here's what went down last night: