Gaby Diaz's Top 10 Tips for Improving Your Dance Versatility
"So You Think You Can Dance" Season 12 winner (and Season 14 All Star winner!) Gaby Diaz is a dance powerhouse. She can perform at a crazy-high level in seemingly any style, from tap to jazz to contemporary to hip hop. Want to improve your own dance versatility? Diaz took a break from Shaping Sound rehearsals to give us her top 10 tips for doing so.
Have an Open Mind
Don't be a slave to dance trends. Be willing to give anything a try. "The styles you see on Instagram might be what you think of as popular, but there are a ton of great styles and great teachers out there, so keep an open mind," Diaz says.
Take a Lot of Classes
This one's a no-brainer: If you want to become a versatile dancer, you have to "take as many classes in as many different styles as you can," Diaz says.
Find Your Own Groove
"Be true to yourself in every class you're in," Diaz says. "I was always really self-conscious in ballet classes because I didn't necessarily look like the ballerina type. As soon as I just accepted who I was in that class, I found it to be a lot more enjoyable."
Don't Compare Yourself to Others
When you're working in an unfamiliar style, others in your class will probably be more advanced than you are—but don't let that bring you down! ""Be inspired by the people around you, instead of tearing yourself apart thinking you aren't what they are," Diaz says.
Find a New Spot in the Room
"I used to be obsessive about my spot at the ballet barre, and I kind of found that I was reliving the same ballet class over and over again when I stood there," Diaz says. "Find a new spot in the room! It might bring a new energy to your dancing."
Instead of spending hours watching your favorite contemporary dancers on Instagram, research styles that are new to you. "I can have a love-hate relationship with the internet, but it's definitely a great tool to be able to explore a lot of different types of dance," Diaz says.
Find Multiple Role Models
It's important not only to have a versatile role model like Diaz, but also to find role models in each style of dance. "I like to play the 'Who Was Their Teacher?' game," Diaz says. "If I meet a dancer I really love, I ask who their teacher was, and then I research their teacher, and follow the chain."
Give Every Class Your All
Don't ever give less than 100 percent—especially in classes that aren't your strong suit. "It's one thing to physically show up to class, but throw yourself into it just as you would with a style you know and are comfortable with," Diaz says.
Don't Get Frustrated
"You don't have to have everything perfect in your first class," Diaz says. "The point of class is to be able to learn over a period of time. Be OK with feeling uncomfortable, because that's how you grow."
Just Have Fun
No matter how challenging learning multiple styles can be, remember to have a good time. "Always do it for the love of it," Diaz says. "Just have fun!"
Misty Copeland. Her name is synonymous with exquisite artistry and outspoken advocacy. And her visibility has made a huge impact on the ballet world. Ballet's relationship with race has always been strained at best, hostile at worst. But Copeland's persistent message and star quality have finally forced the ballet industry to start talking about racial diversity, inclusivity, and representation. "The rarity of seeing ourselves represented is sad," Copeland says. "The more we see every hue and body shape represented on the stage, the more possibilities young dancers feel they have for themselves."
Last month, we asked why there wasn't a Best Choreography category at the Oscars—and discovered that many of you agreed with us: Choreographers should definitely be acknowledged for their work on the super-dancy movies we can't get enough of.
Now, we're taking matters into our own (jazz) hands.
We've decided to create a Dance Spirit award for the best cinematic choreography of 2017. With your input, we've narrowed the field to four choreographers whose moves lit up some of the best movies of the year. Check out our nominations for best choreography below—and vote for the choreographer you think deserves the honor. We'll announce the winner on Friday, March 2.
Contemporary phenom Christina Ricucci has super-flexible hips, which means she can stretch her legs to unbelievable heights. But when she noticed herself making contorted positions in class, Ricucci realized she was approaching her extensions all wrong. "I went back to the basics in class, squaring my hips and using my turnout," Ricucci says. "I learned to create proper positions, rather than whacked-out versions of them."
Some dancers are so wonky they have a hard time supporting their high legs, while others struggle with limited flexibility. But no matter your facility, you can find a balance of stretch and strength to achieve your fullest range of extension. It's not about how high (or not) your legs can go: It's the quality of the movement, and how you get those legs up, that counts.
Yesterday, the dance community was heartbroken to learn that Jaime Guttenberg and Cara Loughran, both 14-year-old dancers, were among the 17 people killed on Valentine's Day in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.
Once upon a time (until the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi concluded, to be exact), figure skaters had to compete to music without words. Before this rule change, a skater faced an automatic point deduction if the music even hinted at vocals. Understandably, there were *a lot* of Olympic programs skated to classical music, and you'd tend to hear the same music selections over and over and over.
There are plenty of current Olympic figure skaters who'd make beautiful dancers (first among them Adam Rippon, whose gorgeously choreographed long program won the internet, if not the gold). But today, as we wait for the women's figure skating competition to crown its new champions, we wanted to throw it back to one of the most beautifully balletic skaters of all time: Sasha Cohen.
The high-flying leaps of grand allegro are meant to be incredibly exciting. But at the end of an intense ballet class, when you're exhausted, it can be hard to give them the attention they deserve. Want to pump up your big jumps? Follow these 10 vital tips from Jennifer Hart, curriculum director and instructor at Ballet Austin.
"Whole, low-fat, or skim?" The question of which milk to drink has gotten a little more complicated lately, with a wide variety of nondairy milks popping up in grocery stores. To find out which ones are worth your milk money, we had registered dietitian Monika Saigal answer some FAQs.