21 Quick Questions with Allison DeBona
Ballet West's Allison DeBona first became a major figure on the pop-culture scene with her stint on The CW series “Breaking Pointe." Her ethereal grace and commanding stage presence have kept her there since. DeBona trained with the Parou Ballet Company (now New Castle Regional Ballet) in New Castle, PA, and the Pittsburgh Youth Ballet while growing up. She later attended Indiana University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in ballet before joining Ballet West in 2007. In 2011 she was promoted to demi-soloist, was given the soloist title in 2013 and, finally, was named first soloist in 2015. Catch her next month in the company's production of Madame Butterfly, and read on for The Dirt!
Go-to stress reliever?
Cleaning! Believe it or not!
Who's your dance role model?
I admire Stella Abrera. I always thought she was so beautiful. When she finally got promoted to principal at American Ballet Theatre it proved there is no limit to a career. Love her! Also, I think The Royal Ballet's Marianela Nuñez is so beautiful!
What's the most played song on your playlist?
Anything Maroon 5!
What's something no one knows about you?
I love football, particularly the Pittsburgh Steelers, more than ballet.
What's something that can always make you laugh?
My family. It's like a traveling circus!
What's one food you can't live without?
Do you have any nicknames?
Alli, Alli-Cat and Bones!
What's something you're most proud of?
I co-founded the artÉmotion Summer Intensive with Ballet in the City in 2015. We had 70 students year one. Our 2016 program grew to 115 students and we have intensives in Cleveland and Detroit. So proud!
If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?
Iceland or Greenland
What's the strangest thing in your dance bag?
Most of the time it's the old banana that I forget about! A weekly science project.
Do you have any pre-performance superstitions or habits?
I take a warm shower and a B-complex vitamin.
Do you have any pets?
Yes! A shih tzu named Zipper Fly. We also had a chocolate lab named Colby Clarease, but she passed in November. I miss her dearly.
Who's your dance crush?
[Ballet West principal] Rex Tilton, of course! ☺
Do you have a favorite workout?
I love to run and lift weights. Always have, too. Even though people try to tell me it's “not good for dancers." Not true!
Where do you feel the happiest?
At home with my fiancé, Rex Tilton (Ballet West, principal), and our little doggie, Zipper Fly! I love them!!
What's your favorite movie?
Who would play you in a movie?
Definitely some kind of witch. I love creepy things!
Have you had any embarrassing moments onstage?
Not that I can think of. But, now I wonder if I'm jinxing myself!
What's your biggest piece of advice for other young performers?
Don't bother with being nervous. You'll only let precious moments onstage pass you by. Live in the good and bad moments onstage. It's all art, regardless. People will always appreciate your work, even if you don't appreciate it yourself sometimes.
What's one thing you'd consider yourself an expert at?
I'm a good problem solver.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I love watching sports. Sunday football games are my favorite! I love hockey and baseball, too!
What a week in the "Dancing with the Stars" universe, amirite? After we bid farewell to Drew Scott and Emma Slater on Monday (in a surprise to pretty much nobody, despite the duo's strong performance in a super-fun freestyle that evening), it was time, last night, for Season 25's Grand Finale. And goodness, I don't know if we've ever seen quite so many perfect scores thrown around the ballroom. The final three—Frankie Muniz and Witney Carson, Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold, and Lindsey Stirling and Mark Ballas—performed a total of six routines on Tuesday, and five of them earned straight 10s. Yes, those scores were well-deserved; the finalists danced their bedazzled behinds off. But it also felt like the judges were channeling Oprah. YOU get a 10, and YOU get a 10, and YOUUUU get a 10!
Turkey is great and all, but the best part of Thanksgiving? It's watching some truly fantastic dancing on television, courtesy the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. On Thursday, when your arms are sore from mashing potatoes and/or you need to escape crazy Aunt Linda, head to the living room to catch these super-dancey parade highlights:
Taja Riley's bold, full-out presence and unique ability to mix hard-hitting hip hop with smooth, sensual choreography paved the way for her success in the commercial industry. She's danced with music icons like Chris Brown, Janet Jackson, Ne-Yo, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Pitbull, and Bruno Mars, and has assisted with choreography for Britney Spears' Femme Fatale tour, Demi Lovato's Skyscraper tour, and Beyoncé's Mrs. Carter tour. She also appeared in Beyoncé's groundbreaking visual album Lemonade. Raised in Virginia Beach, VA, Riley grew up training at Denise Wall's Dance Energy. Currently, she's on faculty at New York City Dance Alliance, where you can catch her touring the convention circuit. —Courtney Bowers
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email email@example.com a chance to be featured!
I'm being bullied by one of the girls at my studio, and it's awful. I've talked to my dance teacher and confronted the bully directly, but it hasn't made a difference. What should I do?
Last week, we highlighted the deliberately, hysterically bad @biscuitballerina Instagram account, created by a then-mysterious dancer with a great sense of humor. This week, the artist behind @biscuitballerina—who turns out to be Royal Ballet of Flanders corps member Shelby Williams—got in touch with us to set the record straight about the intentions of those LOL-worthy posts.
Her photos and videos, with their exaggeratedly cringe-worthy technical flaws, are NOT meant to mock amateur dancers. Instead, Williams is actually hoping the account will help all dancers move past their shortcomings and accept themselves and their dancing.
P!nk, known for her high-flying, acrobatic awards show sets, has literally raised the bar for pop stars everywhere. For her performance at last night's American Music Awards, P!nk decided to break out some flips and tricks ON THE SIDE OF A BUILDING. WHILE FLAWLESSLY SINGING HER FACE OFF. You know, just casually, like you do when you're a full-on goddess.
When you think of a dancer, a double leg amputee may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But Eric Graise, who's one of the stars of the upcoming "Step Up: High Water" YouTube Red series, hopes to change that. Graise, whose legs were amputated as a child due to missing fibula bones, will play a character named King in the new dance series, set to debut early next year.
We all suffer from Nutcracker fatigue sometimes. After a zillion performances, it's hard not to. But there's nothing to restore your little-kid sense of Nutcracker wonder like a look at the sheer scale of a world-class Nut.
New York City Ballet's iconic production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker opens on Friday, and for the past week, the company has been Tweeting out some seriously eye-popping #NutcrackerNumbers. The stats cover everything from the number of jingle bells used on each Candy Cane costume (that'd be 144) to the watts of light used in the show's grand finale (ONE. MILLION. WATTS.).
One of the most beautiful things social media has brought us is the ability to feel like we're up close and personal behind-the-scenes with all our favorite dancers. And one of our favorite stars to Insta-stalk are actually two casts of 36 scintillatingly synchronized precision dancers. I'm talking, of course, about my mild obsession with the legendary Radio City Rockettes.