(by Stormy Pyeatte)
Whether you’re a convention hopper, Broadway guru, devoted watcher of dance movies and TV shows or fan of the must-have Jo+Jax dancewear line, odds are you’ve heard of Joey Dowling. To say she’s well rounded would be a major understatement: She’s pretty much done it all.
Raised in Orem, UT, Dowling spent her childhood training at her mother Sheryl Dowling’s studio, The Dance Club. She received a scholarship to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, but left after her freshman year to begin her professional career. Soon she was touring with Mariah Carey, dancing in Broadway’s revival of Sweet Charity, appearing in the film versions of Chicago and Rock of Ages, choreographing for “So You Think You Can Dance” and serving as associate choreographer for Broadway’s In the Heights. Despite her impressive workload, Dowling still creates works for competition studios and teaches at conventions (including New York City Dance Alliance), where she can admire Jo+Jax—the dancewear line she co-founded with sister Jacki Ford—sported by the industry’s freshest talent.—Megan Kirsch
You know how you think your mom/dance teacher doesn’t know what she’s talking about? Well, she does. In fact, soon you’ll realize she’s one of the smartest people you know. She’ll guide you both personally and professionally for years and years to come.
You know how you always speak before you think? Practice thinking just a little bit more before you open your mouth. But don’t stop being as fearless and competitive as you possibly can. Don’t ever stop training for what you want. And don’t get discouraged. Let your confidence be your guide.
Dowling in her early dancing days (courtesy Dowling)
You know how you really, really want to tour with Janet Jackson? Well, that’s not going to work out so well, because she’s 5’ 2” and you’re going to be 5’ 11”. Your height will be frustrating sometimes, but it will also get you noticed. Your hard work, talent and dedication will lead you to great opportunities, including a world tour with Mariah Carey and a chance to become her body double. You will have a very fulfilling career.
Start taking singing lessons now. You’ll save yourself a lot of grief and several weepy post-audition phone calls telling your parents you sounded like a “dying frog.”
One of your biggest professional joys will be working with your sister to create a clothing line that combines two of your favorite things: dance and design. It will be a huge learning experience that will test you at times but also give you great joy every day. A love of choreography and teaching will become a big part of your life, too. But no matter what, remember that the most important thing is your family—and eventually, your husband.
Love what you do and live what you love. Be humble no matter what. Always try to see the positive. And save your money!
Much of Janelle Ginestra's career has been about helping others shine. She's dedicated herself to supporting and cheerleading her partner, WilldaBeast Adams; the emerging talents in their dance company, ImmaBEAST; and the countless dancers she inspires at master classes and conventions. Her YouTube channel has become a launching pad for young talents like "Fraternal Twins" Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala, thanks to viral videos featuring Ginestra's creative vision.
But Ginestra's a skyrocketing success in her own right—an in-demand choreographer, a social media influencer, and a dance entrepreneur, building a legacy one eight-count at a time. It's time for her turn in the spotlight. And she's more than ready. "I want to be a legend in whatever I do," she says. We'd argue that she already is.
For ballerinas, it's the dream role to end all dream roles: Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, the type of part dancers spend years preparing for and whole careers perfecting. And it's a role that New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck never thought she'd dance. Though Peck is one of the world's preeminent ballerinas, her short stature made Odette/Odile, typically performed by longer, leggier dancers, seem (almost literally) out of reach.
Then—surprise!—her name popped up on the cast list for NYCB's fall season run of Swan Lake.
Lani Dickinson's power, grace, and raw presence make her a standout with AXIS Dance Company, whose mission is to change the face of dance and disability by featuring a mix of disabled and non-disabled performers. Born in China, Dickinson was adopted by an American couple and started dancing at 8 in Towson, MD. She attended the Boston Ballet School for two summers, studied at the Idyllwild Arts Academy for the last two years of high school, and graduated with a dance degree from Alonzo King LINES Ballet's BFA program with Dominican University of California. In 2015, she joined AXIS and won a Princess Grace Award. Catch her this month during AXIS Dance Company's 30th-anniversary season—and read on for The Dirt!
Week five of "Dancing with the Stars" proved to be one of the best weeks of the season so far. (And we're not just saying that because Mickey made a cameo debut on the piano during one of the routines—although that certainly didn't hurt!) Everyone brought their A-game, and with such a fun theme the contestants were able to really let their guards down. There was true sincerity in their dancing that we hadn't seen before. But not all Disney stories end with a "happily ever after," and one couple still had to hang up their dancing shoes.
If there's one week you should watch all the routines of it's undoubtedly this one... But, ICYMI, scroll below for our highlights of the night.
Almost a month out, Puerto Rico continues to suffer the devastating aftereffects of Hurricane Maria. Many of the island's residents still lack power, clean water, and safe housing. Ballet classes? For Puerto Rican dance students, they must feel like an impossible luxury.
But a dance studio in Florida is working to allow a group of young Puerto Ricans to continue their training. And it needs your help.
Yes, I am a dancer, and yes, I am fat.
There's nothing quite as soul-crushing as the reactions I've received when I've told people I dance. They can range from disbelief to confusion to shock. To many people, it's somehow incomprehensible that a plus-size person like myself could grace a stage. While the body-positive movement has been trucking along at full force over the past few years, it hasn't made much progress in the dance community yet. In fact, the words "body positivity" and "dance" are almost never used together in the same sentence.
Despite that fact, dance is what helped me learn to love my larger frame. In honor of National Body Confidence Day, I wanted to talk about my first time in a studio, and about the tremendous progress I've made since.