19 Questions With Raven McRae
A New Yorker through and through, Raven McRae lights up any stage with her big-city energy. She started training at a local Brooklyn community center, and went on to study at Creative Outlet Dance Theatre of Brooklyn, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts and The Ailey School. She performed with Dance Iquail, BalaSole and Ballet Hispanico's BHdos before being mentored by Tony Award–winning choreographer George Faison, who she met at an audition. McRae made her Broadway debut in Motown: The Musical, and is currently performing in Cirque du Soleil's newly opened show, Paramour. Read on for The Dirt. —CB
What's the most-played song on your playlist?
“Lost Ones," by Lauryn Hill. I'm obsessed with Lauryn Hill. <3
What's your favorite TV show?
I love “Bob's Burgers." Every character in that show is hilarious!
What's something no one knows about you?
I'm still a little afraid of the dark. Every time I turn off the hallway light, I run really fast to my room.
What's one food you can't live without?
I cannot live without pizza! There's something about melted cheese that satisfies my soul.
Do you have any nicknames?
Most people call me Rae. Some call me firecracker…I can't imagine why!
Who would play you in a movie?
I would love for Kerry Washington to play me in a movie. I'm convinced she's my celebrity look-alike.
What was your most embarrassing performance moment?
I fell onstage at a recital when I was 12. I kind of deserved it because I tried to out-dance everyone and kick really high.
What are you most proud of?
I am proud of myself for never giving up on my dreams. I never let anything discourage me from getting what I wanted.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I wanted to be a pop singer! I was obsessed with the Spice Girls and I wanted to be just like Scary Spice.
If you could work with any performer, who would it be?
Eartha Kitt to me is the fiercest performer that's ever lived. I wish I could feed off of the majestic energy she exudes.
What's your guilty pleasure?
I love to eat an entire pie of Domino's pizza and binge-watch any- and everything on Netflix.
Who's your dance crush?
Carlos Acosta. Enough said.
What are your pet peeves?
I really don't like when other dancers don't hold their spacing. I get paranoid that I'll get kicked.
What's one thing you can't live without?
I can't live without my Bible. My faith is very important to me. It keeps me sane.
What's it been like being in Cirque du Soleil's first Broadway show?
This experience is super-exciting! The acrobatics, singing, acting and dancing all come together so seamlessly!
What's your favorite part of Paramour?
My favorite part is singing a song called “Ginger Top." I love the 1920s feel it has. It's so catchy that it gets stuck in my head for hours!
Who's your dance role model?
Nicole De Weever is my role model. She is a beautiful, accomplished dancer. However, it is her devotion to giving back to the community that inspires me the most.
Who can always make you laugh?
My fellow cast member Yanelis Brooks can always make me laugh. She has her own way of saying things that is so funny to me.
What's your best advice for young performers?
I would say to know, find and investigate that unique quality in themselves that no one else has and let that shine! No one can be you better than you!
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.