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
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.
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.
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.
We always love a good halftime performance. And we LIVE for halftime performances involving talented kids. (Fingers and toes crossed that Justin Timberlake follows Missy Elliott's lead and invites some fabulous littles to share his Super Bowl stage.)
So obviously, our hearts completely melted for 5-year-old Tavaris Jones. Tavaris may have just started kindergarten, but during Monday night's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, the Detroit native danced with the panache of a veteran pro at halftime.
The coolest place she's ever performed:
I'd have to say the Super Bowl. The field was so cool, and Katy Perry was right there. And there were so many eyes—definitely the most eyes I've ever performed for!
Something she's constantly working on:
My feet. I'm flat-footed, so I'm always hearing, 'Point your toes!' And I'm like, 'I am!'
My hair! That, and a pair of leggings with a T-shirt or tank top.