(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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(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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Performing on a Broadway stage might seem glamorous, but it comes with one of the most grueling schedules a dancer can face. Maintaining your stamina and energy, warding off injury and keeping the material fresh for eight shows a week is no joke. So how do dancers do it? Dance Spirit talked to ensemble members from some of Broadway's danciest shows to get their survival tips.

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(Varsity)

You head to your first dance team practice, ready to nail your fouettés and switch-leaps—only to be asked to demonstrate your headsprings and rubberbands. Yikes! You're embarrassed that you're behind the acrobatic abilities of the older girls, and scared to ask for help.

Just as pirouettes and leaps require diligent practice, acro tricks need weeks, or even months, before you get the hang of them. We spoke with three college dance team coaches to find out what dancers can do to master these critical skills.

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Michelle Dorrance (front) in a rehearsal with Dorrance Dance (photo by Dana Pleasant)

"Imagine if a vocalist sang everything in monotone," says Michelle Dorrance, whose company will perform its evening-length ETM: Double Down in England and Germany this summer. That's the equivalent of a performance without a diverse array of flat slaps, deep-bass heel drops and high, tinkly taps—it's one-note. Tappers "are dancers and musicians, and we have such a range of possibilities within a single step, from our sound quality and pitch to volume and dynamics," Dorrance says. "In order to be a sophisticated artist as a tap dancer, developing an ear for tonal clarity and understanding the physical execution it takes to create different tones is endlessly important." Here's what you need to know to go beyond the monotone.

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Illustration by Lealand Eve

It's competition weekend, and you're beyond excited to perform with your studio—until you find out your biggest rival's going to be there, too. It's a nerve-racking, and common, experience. How can you make sure you have the best weekend possible even when facing off against your greatest opponent? Here's the lowdown on making every competition a positive experience.

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Kansas City Ballet's Kelsey Hellebuyck cringes when she thinks back to her first few months in pointe shoes. "I started out wearing no padding," she remembers. "I had all these open blisters, so then I tried paper towels." But the towels would shred, and her blisters just got worse. After a lot of trial and error, Hellebuyck found that a thin gel padding took some pressure off her foot and still let her toes feel the edge of the shoe. "It was definitely a learning curve," she says.

It can take years—and many blisters!—to find the right pointe shoe padding for your unique feet. But that's not for lack of choices, from old-school lambswool to high-tech gel pads. Here's a breakdown of popular padding options that might give you some new ideas—and, hopefully, happier toes.

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“As a teenager, I auditioned for Spring Awakening, only to realize it was a lot of blonde girls," says Skyler Volpe, a performer with brown, curly hair. This experience taught Volpe to research characters that would best fit not only her voice but also her look—such as her current role as Mimi in the Rent National Tour.

Not fitting certain character types, especially those based on looks or physicality, might feel limiting. But understanding your type makes you a smarter auditionee and helps you pinpoint which natural skills you should continue to home in on.

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