Derek Hough: "Dear Maria Menounos..."
Did you see Derek Hough's open letter to his soon-to-be "Dancing with the Stars" partner Maria Menounos? DHough took to the Huffington Post to share a few pre-competition words of encouragement for the "Extra" host. "When I first heard you were going to be my partner, I was completely stoked," he says. "You have incredible energy and are full of life. Some may even say you are a bit of a looker. I hadn't noticed." (Nyuk nyuk.)
Derek's letter also gives us an interesting peek at all the hard work that happens before "DWTS" filming begins. "Unfortunately, the audience doesn't get to see the first weeks of rehearsal, where I believe the majority of the transformation happens," he says. "It's like going from Bambi on ice to actually dancing full routines with all the bells and whistles."
Much has already been said about how the "DWTS" professionals, rather than the celebrity competitors, have become the true stars of the show. But I can't get over just how dramatic that flip-flop has been. Can you imagine anyone—well, us super-nerds aside—reading an article by one of the pros during Season 1? People barely knew their names. Whatever my conflicted feelings about "DWTS" as a whole, how awesome that it's given these fabulously talented ballroom dancers the recognition they deserve.
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:
They've impressed the judges, now it's time for the Top 100 dancers to enroll at The Academy—and to impress the All-Stars. Welcome to So You Think You Can Dance Academy!
The 100 dancers who made it through auditions in NYC or L.A. are now at The Academy, which is basically a beautiful building with floor-to-ceiling windows. The show opens with that Mandy Moore-choreographed Academy routine which, even after watching it 12 times and trying to learn all the choreography at home, is still delightful.
This Nationals season, Dance Spirit followed four talented dancers from The Dance Awards, NYCDA, Showstopper, and Starpower for an inside look at everything that goes into the biggest competitions of the year. First up: Isabella Torres from Mid-Atlantic Center for the Performing Arts in Baltimore, MD, who competed at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals for the first time this year. (All photos courtesy Shannon Torres.)
Merritt Moore is a ballerina who just so happens to be graduating from Oxford University with a PhD in quantum physics. Is she even human? The jury is still out on that - but the 29-year-old, who earned her undergrad degree from Harvard, has actually found dance to be a powerful tool that assists her in her studies.