Five Things I Learned While Working at Dance Spirit
DS editor in chief Alison Feller (far left) and me at "So You Think You Can Dance" auditions in NYC.
Yesterday was my last day as a Dance Spirit editor. I'm so sad to be leaving my dream job, but I'm thrilled to welcome a darling baby ballerina into the world. So naturally, I've been thinking a lot about my time at DS.
When I began my DS internship four and a half years ago, I never could've imagined how much I would fall in love with dance and my favorite dance publication. At the time, I thought I knew a lot about dance—I'd grown up training in most styles and competing at competitions like New York City Dance Alliance, JUMP, Starpower, etc. Plus, I had a National Dance Alliance championship ring on my finger from my college dance team days.
Boy, was I wrong.
After four years of working at DS and attending countless amazing dance events in NYC and around the country (New York City Ballet at least 5 times a season—this job definitely has its perks!), I still don't know everything about dance (really, who does?). But, my eyes have been opened to styles and companies I never even dreamed of.
Without further ado, five things I learned at Dance Spirit:
1. If you have a dream job, go for it! My teenage self never would've dreamed that in 10 years I'd be living in NYC and writing for the magazine I obsessed over every month.
2. Don't be afraid to admit you don't know who a dancer/choreographer/producer is. This may be the best piece of professional advice DS editor in chief Alison Feller ever gave me. The dance world is extensive and there are always emerging choreographers and performers. If you pretend to know someone you actually know nothing about, chances are you'll end up looking ridiculous. Just say: "I'm not familiar—tell me about him/her." You'll learn so much!
3. If you think you're not a "modern" person, think again. You probably just haven't seen your kind of modern performance yet. The first time I saw KEIGWIN + COMPANY perform Megalopolis I flipped out I loved it so much. I couldn't wipe the goofy grin off my face for hours.
4. Dance can always be a part of your life, even if you stop performing. It's a strange transition to go from the stage to the audience, but it's also wonderful. Figuring out who your favorite ballerinas/tappers/Broadway performers are is so much fun! Go to dance events, watch dance videos and, of course, keep reading Dance Spirit!
5. No one's ever too old to love Dance Spirit. Technically DS is a teen magazine, but I know I'll continue to read it cover to cover for the rest of my life. It's such a fun, exciting tool to help you grow as a dancer and stay involved in the dance community.
Can you tell I love DS? Thank you for being such loyal readers!
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.
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.
When we think of a dancer who's broken barriers, American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland tends to be the name that comes to mind. And though Copeland has been a crucial advocate for equality in the world of ballet, Raven Wilkinson—a mentor of Copeland's—is considered one of the original pioneers of the movement.
In 1955, Wilkinson became the first African American to dance with the renowned Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Her fortitude in the face of bigotry and hate cemented her legacy. Now, with the release of the new children's book Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, a new generation of dancers will be inspired by her tale of overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream.
The book details Wilkinson's life, from her experience as a young dancer training in Harlem, to her run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan while on tour with Ballet Russe, to her later ballet career in Europe. "There were times where my heart really hurt because of the situations I had to deal with," she says. "But I always had faith that I was made to be a dancer and that I was gonna dance."
Dance Spirit spoke with Wilkinson to discuss the new book and get her take on racial equality within the ballet world.
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.