Get Your Head in the Game with Headspins
Headspins are one of the ultimate b-boy and b-girl tricks, and seem to defy the laws of physics. But since dancers don't usually find themselves balancing on top of their skulls, achieving a headspin can feel pretty unattainable. To better understand the best approaches for this advanced move, we asked Alex Welch (aka B-Girl Shorty) and Simrin Player (aka B-Girl Simi) to give us some tips.
Even though there are tons of tutorials a YouTube click away, both Player and Welch stress that headspins are an advanced and difficult trick that can't be learned in a week. “Working your way up to a headspin is critical in order to develop the correct technique,"
Player says. Always spin on the center of your head—if you're too far forward or back, you could twist your neck. “You want to find the 'sweet' spot right in the middle," Welch says.
Both b-girls insist on wearing a beanie while they spin, and only do it on smooth, even surfaces. The beanie helps you spin faster by reducing friction, and it cushions your head. A stable surface allows you to keep your body straight up and down, protecting your neck.
A beanie also helps prevent hair loss associated with headspins—though your scalp will probably still peel. “Don't freak out! It just looks like dandruff," Welch says. “And your head will burn a little bit, too."
Safely executing a headspin requires three essential elements: balance, speed and form. “It's like you're a top," Welch says. “You have to spin fast enough to maintain your balance, and you have to engage your core and legs so you have control over your body."
Like any advanced dance step, the foundation has to be correct for the trick to work. Before you even begin to rotate, you should be comfortable with headstands. “I was told I wasn't allowed to spin until I could hold a headstand for 5 to 10 minutes, and a headstand without hands for one minute," Welch says. Player advises beginners to start and end their spin in a headstand: “It helps you focus on the spin," she says.
From your headstand, split your legs in a wide V-shape. Player suggests pushing your heels out away from you to keep your legs straight and even. Then, begin slow rotations, pushing off from your hands and moving your body as a single unit. This push-off is called a “tap." “It's important to have your hands in contact with the floor throughout these slow rotations," Player says. Eventually, you can advance to quarter-rotations using your hands and on up to “glides": multiple rotations without your hands touching the ground. Player suggests practicing with your legs in a fixed position for maximum stability.
Once you've safely achieved multiple rotations, you can start stylizing your spins with different arm positions, or ways to get up from and down to the floor. But the real joy is in letting loose and spinning. “It's the best feeling in the world," Welch says.
Get in, losers. We're going to Broadway.
OK, not losers, actually—more like the bajillion die-hard fans of Tina Fey's 2004 cult hit Mean Girls, who've been wearing pink every Wednesday since a musical adaptation of the film was first teased back in 2013.
Now their world is like a cake filled with rainbows and smiles, because Mean Girls the musical, which had a trial run in Washington, DC, last fall, is set to open at Broadway's August Wilson Theatre April 8. And in a very grool twist, it turns out the show—with direction and choreography by Casey Nicholaw and a book by Fey herself—is delightfully dancey.
Today in Ballet Dancers Are Actual Superheroes news:
You've no doubt heard that the fabulous Alicia Vikander is playing Lara Croft in the newest iteration of Tomb Raider, which hits movie theaters this Friday. But while her training for the high-octane action role was crazy tough, she says, studying at the Royal Swedish Ballet School was far tougher.
Everyone loves a good viral video, especially when there's dancing involved. And though many viral videos are contrived and created for the soul purpose of instafame, the story behind the latest video catching the eyes of millions—including Rihanna, super model Naomi Campbell, and Diddy—is even more unique because it features children who don't even know who those celebrities are.
A dance troupe in Nigeria has become the next internet sensation, thanks to their exuberant dancing and passion with which they perform. Their enthusiasm for dance is evident in every step and it's hard not to smile as you see these children (who range from ages 6 to 15) express pure joy in something as simple as dance. These nine kids are part of The Dream Catchers, an organization started by 26-year-old Seyi Oluyole, that gives impoverished children a place to live while teaching them how to dance.
For 16-year-old Amanda*, dance is everything: her passion, her escape from the daily grind, and her career goal. Her parents see things differently. "I have siblings who are active in sports," Amanda says, "and my parents would rather I play soccer or basketball. They don't see dance as something I can earn a stable living from in the future. They often tell me I should just quit."
Some parents aren't able to, don't know how to, or choose not to give you the kind of support you need to thrive in the studio. And when your parents are adding stress to your life, rather than alleviating it, there's a lot at stake. "Dancers who don't have the support of their parents might struggle with self-doubt," says Dr. Linda Hamilton, a former dancer with New York City Ballet and a clinical psychologist specializing in the performing arts, "while those whose parents are too involved can crack under the pressure." Whether your parents aren't there when you need them or they're always there, practically smothering you, try these tips to improve your situation.
On Friday night, the iconic RuPaul made history as the first drag queen ever to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And it didn't take long for the world's most fabulous RuPaul fan/one of our favorite human beings, Mark Kanemura, to commemorate his idol's accomplishment with—naturally—a WALK to end all walks.
What do you get when a hoard of dancers collaborate to the catchy tune of "Love Somebody," by the band Frenship? The most epic dance party ever, of course! Said dance party was directed by the talented Michael Riccio, who's choreography has appeared in "La La Land" and "Dancing with the Stars."
They say there's no "I" in "team"—and nowhere is that truer than the world of college dance teams, where precision reigns, uniformity is key, and a single misstep from any given "I" can cost a group a championship trophy. So it's unsurprising that securing a spot on one of the best dance teams in the country is no easy feat.
Members of these highly athletic teams rehearse for hours every week—on top of academic classes and commitments—and perform at football and basketball games, annual concerts, and nationally televised competitions (hi, ESPN). And "no I" rule notwithstanding, each of these top teams is made up of highly trained, highly technical, highly hard-core individuals, who come together to create a ready-for-victory pack.
These six teams aren't one-off success stories—they're consistently strong, and earn the top spots at major competitions like UDA and NDA nearly every year. Up for the challenge? Here's what to know before you go to auditions.