Dance News

From the Rehearsal Hall to the Runway

Anna Zanovello is one of New York Fashion Week's favorite new models—and a former ballet dancer from Milan. Not surprised? Neither were we. Ballerinas are elegant, strong, graceful—and perfect for the catwalk!

Anna, a stunningly gorgeous, long-legged beauty, trained in classical ballet growing up, eventually earning a spot at Italian ballet company La Scala Theatre Ballet. While still in the company, the then 18-year-old  went to a modeling competition in Verona to support a friend—not compete. It was there that she caught the eye of an agency scout. He pled with her to model, but she'd already made up her mind: She was going to be a ballerina. But shortly after, a broken ankle forced her to take a year off from ballet and re-think her options. Why not try modeling?

Anna recently opened Altuzarra’s spring 2012 show at NYFW (wow!) and won spots on the Theyskens’ Theory, Dolce & Gabbana and Giorgio Armani runways. But our favorite part of the story? She skipped Paris Fashion Week in order to spend a month studying at the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow. Now that's our kind of girl! In an interview with New York Magazine, she said, "In December, I entered a competition where one of the judges was the director of the Bolshoi Ballet School in Moscow. I won first prize and part of the award was spending a month studying at the Bolshoi. I kind of had culture shock when I first arrived there. But the school itself was an amazing experience."

She went on to address the hot topic of the pressure to be thin in modeling and ballet worlds. When asked which world was worse, she said, "Well, I met a lot more bulimic girls [doing ballet]. I think it’s worse in ballet because they check your weight and if you’re above a certain weight, you leave the school. It’s horrible."

It's tough to be in a world—whether it's ballet or modeling—where the way look determines where your career will take you. But one thing's for sure: Congratulations are due to a dancer who's been able to overcome the challenges and truly succeed. We can't wait to see her on the runway or the stage—whichever is up next.

Dance News
Photo by Jayme Thornton

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.

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Leap! National Dance Competition offers dancers of all skill levels an opportunity to showcase their talents in an event where the focus is on fun and competing is just a bonus!

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Dancer to Dancer

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!

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Dancer to Dancer
The School at Jacob's Pillow's contemporary program auditions (photo by Karli Cadel, courtesy Jacob's Pillow)

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.

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Screenshot via YouTube

Look out, 'cause here they come!

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Dance News

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.

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Dancer to Dancer
Leah Morrison in Trisha Brown's If You Couldn't See Me, in which the soloist never faces the audience (photo by Julia Cervantes, courtesy Trisha Brown Dance Company)

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.

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Blankenbuehler (far left) with the rest of the "Hamilton" creative team scontent-iad3-1.cdninstagram.com

So book your tickets to Tulsa already, people!

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Your Body
Amanda LaCount showing off her skills (screenshot via YouTube)

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.

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Watch This
Angela Sterling, courtesy PNB

Mark your calendars, bunheads! On Monday, January 29th, at 2:45 PM (EST)/11:45 AM (PST), Pacific Northwest Ballet will be streaming a live rehearsal of Act II of Kent Stowell's Swan Lake.

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