Give Back, Feel Good
The holiday season comes with a few inevitable truths you simply must accept:
- You will love The Nutcracker...for one week. After that, you won't want to hear about sugar plums or The Land of Sweets.
- The malls will be crowded.
- Parking spaces at said malls will be sparse. Getting a good one is both fiercely competitive and unlikely.
- Your list of people to shop for will continue to grow.
- Despite your best intentions, your gift wrapping will not be flawless. (No one minds, promise.)
- Despite your best intentions, your "I'm going to be super healthy this holiday season" resolution will lead you to the dessert tray at every fiesta.
- You will become stressed out at some point, whether it's over wrapping or rehearsals.
We get it: The holidays are a festive time, but they're also a crazy-busy one.
When I'm feeling particularly overwhelmed with life, one thing always helps: making someone else feel good.
There are a few really easy things you can do right now to boost your winter mood and lift someone else's spirits:
Buy a gift for a child who may not get one. We like to think Santa can hit up every home this Christmas, but for some, they won't be a stop along his very busy way, for a myriad of reasons. Reach out to an organization like New York Cares—Winter Wishes to find out how you can get involved.
Use your talents for good. Check out these dancers who are doing just that.
Be randomly kind. After the Newtown shooting, Ann Curry championed a campaign to get people doing good things. She dubbed it #26Acts, and the goal is to commit to 26 acts of kindness in memory of the 26 victims at Sandy Hook Elementary. I love this and I'm taking part, myself. Join me! It's so easy—think of things like holding the door for someone, paying for a stranger's cup of coffee or offering your seat to someone on the bus.
Now take a break from your wrapping and your cookie baking and get involved—someone out there will appreciate it.
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.