With her closely cropped hair and lanky body, Ghrai DeVore bears traces of adolescence. But when she takes the stage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music to perform Alvin Ailey’s signature work, Revelations, she instantly matures. Her dancing is economical but elegant. In the final movement of the piece, the women wag their fingers at their male partners; Ghrai’s hand is less frantic, but forceful. She catches your eye without undermining the impact of a unison ensemble.
Ghrai’s performance at BAM in June marked her debut as a member of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. “I was backstage freaking out,” she says. “I thought, ‘Wow, I’m a part of this tradition, and I’m about to walk out on stage and give it my all.’ ” At just 20 years old, Ghrai has already achieved major success.
Born in Washington D.C., Ghrai (pronounced “gray”) moved to NYC a couple years later with her mother, a modern dancer. There, Ghrai started dancing recreationally. At 6, she and her mother settled in Chicago, where Ghrai began her formal dance training, first studying ballet, then modern, jazz and tap at the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center. At 10, Ghrai attended a summer program at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in D.C., and soon after committed to pursuing a dance career. She took class every day and attended summer programs at American Ballet Theatre in NYC and LINES Ballet in San Francisco.
At 15, Ghrai performed with Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, where her mother was a company member, at the International Association of Blacks in Dance conference in Toronto. Sylvia Waters, artistic director of Ailey II, spotted her. “I was impressed with this young lady who performed with such confidence and style,” Waters says. She spoke with Ghrai about joining the Ailey fellowship program, but Ghrai wasn’t ready to leave Chicago.
After skipping two grades, Ghrai graduated from high school at 16 and began dancing professionally. She joined Hubbard Street 2 (the second company at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago) and continued dancing with Deeply Rooted.
By 18, Ghrai felt the pull of NYC. She moved to the city and became an Ailey fellowship student. Just a few months later, when Ailey II dancer Aisha Mitchell took an open position in the main company, Ghrai slipped into her spot in the second company. During her two years with Ailey II, Ghrai lived up to Waters’ expectations. “She has an instinct for nuance, both dramatically and physically,” Waters says.
In the spring of 2010, Ghrai joined the main company. Her experiences with Ailey II prepared her for the hardships of life with a troupe that tours extensively. “I learned how to listen to my muscles,” she says, “to know when I could continue or when I needed to rest.” Though Ghrai’s already shown that she’s a savvy and refined performer, Waters believes she will continue to grow: “She has qualities yet to be discovered.”
Fave Food: “Soul food: fried chicken, collard greens, yams and macaroni and cheese.”
Dream Dance Role: Vespers, choreographed by Ulysses Dove
Secret Superhero Power: “I can read four to five books a week! I like the authors Tananarive Due and Christopher Paolini.”
Fave Day Off: “Any day off!”
Fave Dance Movie: The Turning Point
Photo of Ghrai DeVore in Judith Jamison's Divining by Eduardo Patino.
It's time to get your pirouette on! From September 5th to September 30th, we're hosting a contest to find out who's the best turner of them all.
Put together your most impressive turning combo. Post a video online. Share your turns with us and thousands of other dancers around the world. And if our editors think you're the top turner, you'll win a fabulous prize.
All of 18-year-old Kaylin Maggard's dreams—from scoring the title of National Senior Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals to winning the 2017 Dance Spirit Cover Model Search—are coming true. And to anyone who knows the gorgeous contemporary dancer, that's no surprise.
From the moment the Dance Spirit staff met Kaylin, it was obvious her humility and talent would take her far. Not only did she go full-out during the photo shoot and class at Broadway Dance Center, but she was always cheering on, laughing with, and supporting her fellow CMS contestants Haley Hartsfield and Michelle Quiner. During the voting period, the social media world was abuzz with praise for her work ethic, positive attitude, and generosity.
Since her CMS trip to NYC, Kaylin's moved from her hometown of Columbia, MO, to the Big Apple for her freshman year at Juilliard, and is busy getting acquainted with the city. As for the future? She's taking it one opportunity at a time, but something tells us we'll be seeing this contemporary queen reach new heights every year.
New York City principal Lauren Lovette has become an icon thanks to her emotional maturity and exceptional musicality. The 26-year-old quickly rose through the ranks after joining the company as an apprentice in 2009, reaching principal status in 2015. A Thousand Oaks, CA, native, Lovette started studying ballet seriously at age 11, at the Cary Ballet Conservatory in Cary, NC. After attending two summer courses at the School of American Ballet, she enrolled as a full-time student in 2006. Last year, she made her choreographic debut with For Clara, her first piece for NYCB. Catch her latest work this month during the company's fall season. —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 for a chance to be featured!
I know I'm not getting good enough dance training from any of my local studios. But I'm not sure I'm ready to move away to study at a big-name school, either. How do you know when you're ready to leave home to pursue your passion?
Instagram star Kylie Shea has built a following of nearly 170,000 with her playful workout videos, which combine traditional fitness activities, like jumping rope or running on the treadmill, with pointe shoes and sassy choreography. Shea's effortless cool-girl-next-door vibe and solid ballet technique make her vids totally irresistible.
Now Shea's using her platform to address the body image issues that tend to plague dancers. In a poignant video, she sheds her clothes and tugs at her skin. The caption explains her relationship with her body and the pressure she feels to maintain a certain aesthetic as a dancer.
Physical discomfort is inevitable when you're spending tons of hours in the studio every day, but some pain shouldn't be suffered through. "Dancing through pain can make an injury worse and lead to more time away from dance," says Dr. Joel Brenner, medical director of dance medicine at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk, VA. "Failing to rest and recover when you're in serious pain could even lead to the point where you're unable to dance in the future."
That may sound scary, but there's good news: If you take precautions and listen to your body, many injuries can be stopped in their tracks. The first step? Knowing what's normal—and what's not.
Think about it: How often do you see a ballet pas de deux for two women? Almost never, right? Sometimes, choreographers will forgo the traditional danseur-ballerina pas to make a duet for two guys, since they can lift and partner each other easily. But a dance for two ballerinas is a rare thing.
That's part of what makes "Duet," a new video by director Andrew Margetson featuring Royal Ballet beauties Yasmin Naghdi and Beatriz Stix-Brunell, so compelling.