Head of the Class
Photo by Paolo Galli. November 2010: KAB participates in an outreach program that shares dance with public school students in the area.
Megan Amanda Ehrlich spent much of her childhood bouncing from city to city because of her father’s job with the military. But one thing remained consistent: her commitment to ballet. By age 6, she had decided to pursue a professional career. At the time, she was training in the Vaganova method with Boris Chepelev and Janna Kirova in Florida. A year later, when her family moved to Washington, D.C., Megan Amanda auditioned for the Kirov Academy of Ballet, but was told to come back in a few years. She returned the following year—and was accepted on full scholarship. She spent two years at the prestigious academy before being uprooted again, and then returned to KAB as a high school sophomore. An airy dancer with to-die-for feet and easy technique, Megan Amanda graduated this past spring. Here, she shares moments from her senior year, documented by photographer Paolo Galli. —Katie Rolnick
Photo by Paolo Galli. Here, Megan Amanda and her friend Isaac Aoki, also at KAB, rehearse for the performance.
Photo by Paolo Galli. Megan Amanda and other KAB students rehearse a demonstration for public school students.
Photo by Paolo Galli. Megan Amanda and Isaac sneak in a game of cards before class.
Photo By Paolo Galli. December 2010: At KAB’s winter performance, Megan Amanda danced the pas de deux from La Sylphide. Here, her mom helps her into her costume.
Photo by Paolo Galli, Courtesy The Balanchine Trust. She also danced the Waltz Girl in George Balanchine’s Serenade.
Photo by Isaac Aoki. January 2011: Megan Amanda did an impromptu photo shoot with her friend Isaac Aoki, who’s also a fledgling photographer.
Photo by Paulo Galli. March 2011: Megan Amanda found time to read, one of her favorite hobbies.
Photo by Paulo Galli. April 2011: Megan Amanda and fellow student Alex Babayev were asked to perform at a special awards ceremony. Martin Fredmann, deputy artistic director of the KAB, joined them—and they were all picked up in a limo!
Photo by Paolo Galli. Megan Amanda in class with teacher Ludmila Morkovina
Photo by Paolo Galli. April 2011: For the KAB spring performance, Megan Amanda was cast as Odette in the second act of Swan Lake. Here, she rehearses with Chase O’Connell, a former KAB student.
Photo by Paolo Galli. Megan Amanda and Chu-En Chiu as Odette and Siegfried in KAB’s production of Swan Lake
Photo by Paolo Galli. As they approach graduation, seniors at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C. get professional audition photos taken.
Photo by Paolo Galli. On May 28, 2011, Megan Amanda graduated from high school at KAB.
EDITOR'S NOTE: After graduating, Megan Amanda moved to California to apprentice with San Francisco Ballet.
Birthday: July 20, 1995 (she graduated at 15!)
Favorite dance movie: Center Stage
Favorite book: “I really like murder mystery novels and books by James Patterson.”
Favorite TV shows: “NCIS” and “The Big Bang Theory”
Most played on her iPod: The album Dusk and Summer by Dashboard Confessional
Dance idol: “I really like Polina Semionova. I also look up to a lot of my friends. Dancing next to them in class pushes me to make myself better.”
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:
They've impressed the judges, now it's time for the Top 100 dancers to enroll at The Academy—and to impress the All-Stars. Welcome to So You Think You Can Dance Academy!
The 100 dancers who made it through auditions in NYC or L.A. are now at The Academy, which is basically a beautiful building with floor-to-ceiling windows. The show opens with that Mandy Moore-choreographed Academy routine which, even after watching it 12 times and trying to learn all the choreography at home, is still delightful.
This Nationals season, Dance Spirit followed four talented dancers from The Dance Awards, NYCDA, Showstopper, and Starpower for an inside look at everything that goes into the biggest competitions of the year. First up: Isabella Torres from Mid-Atlantic Center for the Performing Arts in Baltimore, MD, who competed at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals for the first time this year. (All photos courtesy Shannon Torres.)
Merritt Moore is a ballerina who just so happens to be graduating from Oxford University with a PhD in quantum physics. Is she even human? The jury is still out on that - but the 29-year-old, who earned her undergrad degree from Harvard, has actually found dance to be a powerful tool that assists her in her studies.