Your Body

Yoga has long been a cross-training favorite for dancers, thanks to the mind-body practice's power to increase flexibility, strength, and focus. But with thousands of yoga poses out there, how can you know which postures are the best use of your between-rehearsals time? DS asked Jennifer Brilliant, a Brooklyn, NY–based yoga teacher and yoga therapist, and former dancer with Jennifer Muller/The Works, which poses will serve your dancer body best.

Photos by Erin Baiano. Modeled by Rachel Knuth.

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Dancer to Dancer

Applying for a college dance program can feel like a guessing game. Should you highlight all your competition titles and awards? How important are your academic grades? And how should you act in the audition? Here's advice from admissions officers from some of the top dance programs in the country about how to make your application stronger.

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Dancer to Dancer

Miami City Ballet principal soloist Nathalia Arja is known for her powerful jump—in fact, she recalls one reviewer describing her as "popcorn." But flying through the air wasn't always second nature. Growing up training in her native Brazil, she says, she didn't know how to use her body efficiently during grand allégro.

So what changed? "At 13, I started doing Pilates," she says. "I did a lot of leg exercises lying down on the reformer, which built my core strength." Then, at 15, she started studying at Miami City Ballet School. "I went from classical to Balanchine training," she says, "and I learned how to push off the floor with my toes, rather than jumping from my entire foot."

As Arja discovered, developing a big jump is more about nurture than nature. Here's advice from the experts about how you can reach your highest heights.

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Dancer to Dancer

When former ballet dancer Kayci Treu first joined the ballroom team at Brigham Young University, her coaches would often reprimand her for "backleading," or performing steps without waiting for cues from her partner. The Vaganova-trained dancer had done her fair share of ballet pas de deux—but, as she explains, "that's about a ballerina being supported by her cavalier or prince. Ballroom is more symbiotic. The heart of ballroom is the two-person connection—a man and a woman working together."

In the ballroom world, the role of "leader" typically falls to the male partner, while the female dancer is the "follower." But if you're a woman trained in a style like ballet or jazz, where you're in command of your performance at all times—or if you're just a type-A person—it can be challenging to relinquish control. We asked Treu and veteran "Dancing With the Stars" pro Ashly DelGrosso-Costa to offer tips to help you get out of your head and move in sync with your partner.

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How To
Jade Chynoweth knows how to mesmerize an audience with some killer eye contact. (Joe Toreno)

In an audition or onstage, knowing how to use eye contact appropriately is a total game changer. Dancers who aren't afraid to meet the eyes of judges or audience members exude a special confidence that allows them to be seen as capable, talented performers. When dancers look at the floor or around the room, though, they telegraph insecurity. Don't send your critics looking for flaws! Avoid these three no-no's and become a true master of eye contact.

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How To
Dance photographer Kenneth Edwards' shot of American Ballet Theatre soloist Cassandra Trenary (courtesy Edwards)

Is there anything better than a killer dance photoshoot? OF COURSE NOT! Whether you're taking headshots, model shots, or simply images that'll slay on Instagram, dance photography makes the world a prettier place.

To make sure your next dance photoshoot is as 🔥 as you are, we asked photographer Kenneth Edwards for his dos and don'ts. Follow his advice and your dance photography future will be as bright as your "golden hour" lighting.

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Dancer to Dancer
(Courtesy ABC)

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.

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How To
(courtesy Jae Blaze)

Remember Rihanna's epic onstage dance party at the 2016 MTV VMAs? She effortlessly flowed through a mashup of "Rude Boy," "What's My Name" and "Work," wearing a feathery bra-top, baggy pants and an oversized T-shirt wrapped around her head. And the dozens of backup dancers? They weren't really backup—Rihanna was clearly part of the group, and the group was having an amazing time grooving together. The sound, choreography, costuming and camaraderie were pure dancehall.

"Dancehall is a genre created in Jamaica," says Jae Blaze, a dancehall instructor at L.A.'s Millennium Dance Complex (MDC) who has choreographed and danced for Rihanna and other international pop artists. Though the dance element was originally considered a freestyle form, classes are popping up at top studios from coast to coast. Here's what you need to know about this branch of the street-dance family tree.

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