Emma Hellenkamp's Showstopper Finals Experience
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. Next up? Emma Hellenkamp, from San Diego, CA, who competed at Showstopper's West Coast Nationals for the first time since "So You Think You Can Dance." (All photos courtesy KC Hellenkamp.)
Wednesday, July 19th:
We made it to Showstopper Nationals in Anaheim, CA, and I could not be more excited to start the week. I had my duo and trio today, so I knew I needed to leave time to stretch and warm up. Once I had my makeup and hair done, I started to run through my dances with Chloe and SeAnna (my trio partners), and then just Chloe (my duo partner). My trio was first. Right before they called our names, we shook out our hands and legs to get rid of all the nerves. (We did the same thing for our duo.) Both performances went well, but you could tell the nerves were there because they were our first dances of the week. Overall, it was a great first night! We topped it off by dancing to a band in Downtown Disney and watching Wonder Woman in the Disney movie theater.
Thursday, July 20th:
I had no dances on Thursday, which is strange because that doesn't normally happen. That meant I got to support my friends and hang out at the pool! My friends and I cheered on all the junior soloists and then hit the pool. After about 2 hours relaxing in the sun, we made our way back to the competition for all the mini and junior groups. It was a relaxing and fun day.
Friday, July 21st:
Friday was a big day—we started at 6:00 AM and finished up at 11:00 PM. My small contemporary group routine, "Hold on for your Life," was first. It went really well and we made it into the Top 10 dance off at the final show on Sunday. Then I had one more small group before my first solo. My solo was super nerve-racking. It was my first time in the teen division, and I only turned twelve a month ago. I performed really well, and then it was off to my next solo. I warmed up for about an hour and ate a salad for some last minute energy. My second solo—a jazz routine—also went very well and I was super excited and thankful to have placed 7th overall after 13 hours of solos! Once they were out of the way, I could focus on my last group dance, "They Don't Really Care About Us." It was a large jazz routine that was fierce and fun to perform. I absolutely love team dances! That dance also made it to the closing show, which I was beaming about. I finished off the night with a 4-hour rehearsal for the opening number. Although it was long, I had a lot of fun and made a ton of new friends.
Saturday, July 22nd:
Saturday was a piece of cake 🍰 I slept in and ate a chocolate chip muffin (my favorite) for breakfast. Then I had my hair and makeup done because I had 3 large group performances. My first dance was a huuuuuge group with 46 (!) people in it. It's a very tiring dance and involves lots of tumbling and tricks. After that, I only had 3 minutes to change for my tap routine. Don't get me wrong—it was stressful but also so fun, because it was such a quick a change. My dance teachers said we performed the tap routine, "Impossible," the best they'd ever seen it. They were right, because it also made it to the closing show! My last dance was a large contemporary number, "When You Sleep." It was one of my favorite dances all year and I cannot believe that was my last time performing it. The night ended with a 5-hour rehearsal for opening number, which felt like a lifetime after this day.
Sunday, July 23rd:
Sunday was the closing show, and I could feel the stress in the air. First of all, my three sisters and I all had to be completely ready with hair, makeup, and costume in the hotel lobby at 8:00 AM (my poor mom!). Then, I had four dances to complete, starting with the opening number. I was in the opening number two years ago, and was not able to participate last year because of "So You Think You Can Dance." I was super excited to be involved in it again. I loved the rehearsals and the feeling of performing with new friends—it was a great experience. After that, it was time to perform my other dances. What an incredible day, and incredible end to my week at Showstopper Finals!
Some might say Charlize Glass' fame kicked off with a single three-letter word. In 2014, Beyoncé shared a video of the then–12-year-old dancer performing to "Yoncé" on Instagram, along with a simple caption: "WOW!"
But by that point, the hip-hop mini had already performed at the MTV Video Music Awards and on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," and won first runner-up with her crew, 8 Flavahz, on "America's Best Dance Crew." And her Queen Bey Insta shout-out wasn't even the pinnacle of her tween career: She earned a spot on The PULSE On Tour as an Elite Protégé for the 2014–2015 season, and performed with Missy Elliott at the Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show in 2015.
These days, the 16-year-old spends her time touring the country as Brian Friedman's assistant at Radix Dance Convention and blowing up YouTube and Instagram with her class-video cameos. And while the Char Char we fell in love with was a hip-hop cutie pie, the more mature artist we see today is sure to rock the dance world for years to come.
For some it's a holiday tradition, for others its an iconic spectacle, but no matter the reason, more than 1 million people will watch the Rockettes perform in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular each year. And though the production has been around since 1933, much of what goes on behind those velvety curtains and intricate sets remains a mystery. To curb our curiosity and find out what ensues when these leggy ladies aren't doling out their sky-high kicks, we got a backstage tour from the legends themselves.
From hair and makeup, to warm-up exercises, and costume quick changes (the fastest quick change in the show is a #mindblowing 75 seconds, by the way) we got a glimpse into the glamorous (and sometimes not so glamorous) world of the Rockettes.
If you follow ballet darling Juliet Doherty on Instagram—which you probably do—you already know that the two-time Youth America Grand Prix gold medalist is a self-proclaimed "plant-powered ballerina." Doherty has followed a vegan diet for four years now, and though she never forces her lifestyle on her followers or IRL friends, she does love sharing her daily eats and the plant-based meals and snacks that help her perform at her best. Curious as to what that entails? Here's a day in the life of Juliet's meat-and-dairy-free diet.
In the summer of 2006, Heidi Groskreutz and Travis Wall performed a showstopping Mia Michaels routine on “So You Think You Can Dance" Season 2, a piece now remembered simply as “The Bench Dance." It was arguably the first time this particular dance style had been shown on live TV—a style both graceful and quirky, driven by storytelling and deeply felt emotion.
It was, in other words, the mainstream world's introduction to contemporary. And it earned “SYTYCD" one of its first Outstanding Choreography Emmy Awards.
Contemporary dance has come a long way (baby). While the style has been around for decades, as of late it seems to be everywhere. Today you can see contemporary choreography on concert stages (Shaping Sound's tour has been a massive hit), on TV (it's the favored style on “SYT" and pops up regularly on “Dancing with the Stars"), in films (remember Kathryn McCormick's character in Step Up Revolution?), in music videos (including Sia's viral films starring Maddie Ziegler) and even on Broadway (Michaels took her talents to the Great White Way for Finding Neverland).
The possibilities for contemporary dance seem to be endless. But how should the style keep evolving, and what has it outgrown? To find out, we talked to some of the contemporary world's most influential names.
As a tap dancer, you're a student of history—whether you know it or not. Tap technique today is intimately connected to the great hoofers of the past. "Tap is incredibly personal, because all of these individuals have added to the public domain, the pool of steps you draw from," says Brian Seibert, dance critic for The New York Times and author of What the Eye Hears: A History of Tap Dancing. "You're constantly giving shout-outs to dancers who came before you."
It's also important to recognize tap's pioneers because they repeatedly broke down barriers, making tap accessible to everyone. "You don't have to overcome something to be here," says Tony Waag, artistic executive director of the American Tap Dance Foundation. "You're not the first black person or woman, you don't have to carry a certain card or have a particular lineage to succeed at tap. Gregory Hines used to say, 'If you have the shoes, you're in.' "
Come meet the artists who've shaped tap history. Because if you're a tap dancer, they're your family, too.
What's better than a good dance joke? They're corny, they're punny, and they're exactly what you need to get you through long Nutcracker days. These 10 jokes are guaranteed to put a smile on your face—no matter how much your feet are hurting.
"So you Think You Can Dance" Season 14 finalists Lex Ishimoto and Taylor Sieve shocked fans at home (at least the ones who hadn't thoroughly scoured their respective Instagrams) during Episode 14, when choreographer Mia Michaels asked if either of them had ever experienced "the kind of love that takes your breath away." They confessed that, yup, they had—with each other. The two met at The Dance Awards in the summer of 2016, where they were each named Senior Best Dancer, and went on to tour with the convention as assistants. Before long—and long before their "SYTYCD" journey—they became a couple.
Take a look at Dance Spirit's exclusive interview where they dish on everything from their favorite dates to the dance moves that give them all the feels.
There's a surprising twist to Regina Willoughby's last season with Columbia City Ballet: It's also her 18-year-old daughter Melina's first season with the company. Regina, 40, will retire from the stage in March, just as her daughter starts her own career as a trainee. But for this one season, they're sharing the stage together.
Yes, we all know dancers are strong. But sometimes it takes a truly epic workout video to remind us JUST HOW INSANELY STRONG they actually are.
Behold, National Ballet of Canada principal Svetlana Lunkina's oh-so-casual pre-class exercise: