Kate's Note: A Little Help From My Friends
The movie Black Swan, which got so much attention early this year, depicts the ballet world as a place where dancers can become obsessive, unhealthy and ultra-competitive with each other. But for Dance Spirit’s annual Ballet Issue, we were inspired by a very different and real-life ballet story: that of three beautiful, happy, healthy best friends who are supporting one another as they venture into life as professionals.
April Giangeruso, Courtney Lavine and Katie Williams are three of American Ballet Theatre’s newest talents (look for them next time you see ABT—you won’t be disappointed!). At work, these long-limbed lovelies help each other learn and perfect choreography and get through difficult performances, and they cheer each other up when they’re feeling down. “Ballet can get in your head sometimes,” April says. “So it’s nice to know that people care and have your back.”
They also love spending their rare days off together. They catch baseball games (April is a big-time Baltimore Orioles fan), go to the beach or just get frozen yogurt in NYC. Turn to p. 46 for their story and revel in their beautiful pictures. Then turn to p. 50 to meet 10 more dance best friends.
My best friend and I danced together in San Francisco Ballet and one of my favorite memories is the company tour to Paris. Touring is great because you get to explore new cities, theaters and audiences. But it can be tough on your body, especially if you’re on a long bus tour or a yearlong world tour. In “Road Warriors” (p. 52), you’ll learn everything you need to know about staying healthy on the road.
Then, there’s one television dance celebrity who I would drop everything to see perform live—and we’ve got him in this issue. Turn to p. 56 to read about the dreamy Derek Hough, television’s hottest, most charismatic male dancer. Fresh off his third consecutive win on “Dancing with the Stars,” Derek caught up with writer Jen Jones to divulge what it was like growing up Hough.
And there’s so much more: A glorious fashion spread featuring tutus (p. 34) and ballet and pointe shoes (p. 42), an urban feature on the six-step (a move every young dancer should know, p. 58), a spotlight on competitive Irish step-dance (p. 60), a diary about working with the legendary Trisha Brown (p. 26), an inspiration board from Monica Bill Barnes (p. 24) and more!
So grab your best friend and sift through these pages together. Enjoy.
The DS staff had so much fun editing the stories about dancer friendships in this issue that we were inspired to introduce you to our own best friends!
My mom is my best friend! She knows me better than anyone else. I love going home to visit her and going apple picking and outlet shopping. —Alison Feller
My best friend is Nicole. I’ve known her since high school, but we became friends in college. She’s one of the funniest people I know! —Colleen Bohen
I actually have two best friends: Katie and Becca, my former college roomies. Lucky me! —Margaret Fuhrer
I’m lucky enough to have two BFFs: my little sisters, Megan and Macie. —Michael Bailey
Photos top to bottom: (L to R) ABT's April Giangeruso, Katie Williams and Courtney Lavine, by Erin Baiano; Alison Feller and her mom courtesy Alison Feller; (L to R) Nicole and Colleen Bohen courtesy Colleen Bohen; (L to R) Katie, Margaret Fuhrer and Becca courtesy Margaret Fuhrer; (L to R) Megan, Macie and Michael Anne Bailey courtesy Michael Anne Bailey.
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.
The dancers who take our breath away are the risk-takers, the ones who appear completely fearless onstage. "When you see somebody trying to travel more, go farther, push the limits of their physical abilities, that's always going to be inspiring," says Ballet BC dancer Alexis Fletcher.
But dance training can feel like it's in conflict with that idea. We spend thousands of hours in the studio trying to do steps perfectly, and that pursuit of perfection can make us anxious about taking risks. What if we fail? What if we fall?
Luckily, fearlessness is a mental skill that you can work on, just as you work on your technique. Here's how you can learn to push yourself past your limits.
The 2018 Oscar noms are here. Which is fun and all; we'll never not get excited about a night of glitz and glamor and, when we're lucky, pretty great dancing. But we'd be a heck of a lot more excited if the Academy Awards included a Best Choreography category. And really—why don't they?
Maud Arnold is one of the busiest tap dancers on the planet. As a member of the Syncopated Ladies, Maud—along with her big sis and fellow tapper Chloé Arnold—is on constantly the road for performances, workshops, and master classes. For the average person, that kind of schedule could lead to a serious derailment of healthy habits. But Maud's far from average. Here's how the fit, fierce, flawless tap star stays stage-ready—no matter what time zone she finds herself in.
If you're in need of a piece that's both trendy and sophisticated, look no further than this Só Dança crop top. Featuring elegant long sleeves, a high neckline, and a delicate lace trim, it's both classic and contemporary—perfect for everything from that big audition to a long night in the studio. Enter below for your chance to win it!
Auditioning for summer intensives in person may be the ideal—but for Anna McDowell, a 16-year-old student at Juneau Dance Theatre in Juneau, AK, it's rarely possible. “Living in Alaska, it's difficult to travel to auditions," she says. “It gets way too expensive!" Instead, each year, with help from her teachers and a videographer, she puts together a well-crafted video and submits it to schools around the country. Last year, her high-quality video helped her earn acceptance to nearly every program she applied for. Most summer intensive programs, eager to attract students from far and wide, will accept video auditions from those who can't travel to take class. But major schools look at hundreds of submissions each year, which means video auditioners have just a few minutes—or even seconds—to make a great impression. If you're about to create an audition video, follow these tips from the professionals to put your best digital foot forward.