That impossibly elastic back. That up-to-there extension. Those out-of-this-world feet. It’s a no-brainer: 14-year-old Hannah Bettes was made to be a ballerina.
And yet Hannah is shockingly new to the world of ballet. The Dallas, TX, native first began studying jazz and contemporary at The Dance P.A.D. (then known as Deltona Academy of Dance) in Florida at age 8, and quickly racked up title after title at competitions. She didn’t discover ballet until she was 12, when she began taking a couple of classes a week at Central Florida Ballet. “Ballet is so challenging, because you’re striving for this impossible perfection,” Hannah says. “I fell in love with the discipline of it.” And ballet loved her back: She won the silver medal at the World Ballet Competition in 2008, was one of just three Americans to place in the top 12 at the Youth America Grand Prix finals in 2009 and spent two summers at the prestigious School of American Ballet (SAB) in NYC—the second on full scholarship.
Now Hannah trains at the Patel Conservatory in Tampa, under the direction of former New York City Ballet dancer Peter Stark. She’s also the youngest “new artist” (company member) with the conservatory’s Next Generation Ballet. “The first time I saw Hannah, my jaw hit the floor,” Stark says. “She has flexibility and strength and a phenomenal line to her feet and legs—things you almost never get all together. She’s hungry to learn, and because she has no physical limitations, her progress is stratospheric.” Stark also thinks Hannah’s comp-school background works to her advantage in ballet. “All that competing has rendered her totally fearless,” he says. “She doesn’t have the timidity that limits many ballet dancers—she goes for the fifth pirouette every time.”
This winter, Hannah starred as the Snow Queen in the conservatory’s Nutcracker, dancing a pas de deux Stark choreographed for her and his former student Jeffrey Cirio (now a second soloist at Boston Ballet). What’s next? Hannah says, “Eventually I’d love to study at SAB, and then join New York City Ballet.”
Birthday: March 26, 1996
Most-played on her iPod: Kate Nash’s “Skeleton Song”
Must-see TV shows: “Criminal Minds” and “iCarly”
Favorite food: “Corn! Like, any kind of corn. I know it sounds weird, but I love it.”
Dance crush: Sascha Radetsky
Dance idol: Sylvie Guillem
Dream dance role: Odette/Odile in Swan Lake
Well, this brings class videos to a whole new level! Choreographer Phil Wright and dancer Ashley Liai have been together eight-plus years, but she was still in total shock when he proposed to her mid-dance at Millennium Dance Complex earlier this week. Why? Well, the whole thing was unbelievably perfect.
In the dance industry, dancers don't always have a say in what they wear on their bodies. This can get tricky if you're asked to wear something that compromises your own personal values. So what should you do if you find yourself in this sticky situation? We sat down for a Q&A with "Dancing with the Stars" alumn Ashly Costa to answer that very question. Here's what she had to say about the options dancers have surrounding questionable costumes.
The groundwork for Erin Carpenter's company, Nude Barre, began when she was a teenager. At 16, she earned a spot in the residency program at The Kennedy Center in partnership with Dance Theatre of Harlem. "We were required to wear nude—as in, our actual skin tone—tights and shoes," she remembers. Carpenter brought her "sun tan" tights and a pair of pink ballet shoes with her, because that was all she could find. But she wasn't allowed in class because her dancewear didn't match her skin. "I was so embarrassed," she says. "I looked unprepared. I just didn't have the right nudes." Her teacher explained that the dancers dyed their tights and pancaked their shoes.
There are dancers and then there are DANCERS! Whitney Jensen, soloist at Norwegian National Ballet, is the latter. The former Boston Ballet principal can do it all. From contemporary to the classics this prima has the technical talent most bunheads dream about. Need proof? Look no further.
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's dance inducing hit, "Despacito," is so catchy it should probably come with a disclaimer that warns people of an uncontrollable itch to tap your feet or bob your head. Some might even feel inclined to go all out and break it down. Niana Guerrero is a prime example of "Despacito's" uncanny ability to unleash the red dressed emoji dancer within. 💃🏽 💃🏽
Guys, we all knew this was coming—"World of Dance" was eventually going to eliminate someone. But man, is it brutal to watch these talented dancers give their all, only to be sent home. It's the name of the game, though, and after last night's episode, only two dancers per division remain. (At least Misty Copeland guest-judging was a silver lining!) Here's what went down last night: