Kate's Note: On The Comp Scene
Every summer, when it comes time for the Dance Spirit editors to attend national competitions, the energy in our office is electric. We know we’ll see dancers who will surprise us (Sarah Pippin!), group routines that will make us stand up and cheer (Center Stage Performing Arts Studio’s “Monsters”) and trends that will get us talking (the Black Swan/White Swan theme was a popular one this year). We count on competitions to draw fresh talent from across the country that will knock our socks off. This past season did not disappoint.
Inside this October issue—the annual competition and convention issue—you’ll find the DS editors’ Nationals trend-spotting report (“Our Favorite Things,” p. 78) and the competition and convention listing (p. 100)—a must-read resource that will help you, your teachers and your parents gear up for 2012. Choreographer Travis Wall shares his best tips for dancers who are starting to navigate the professional world (p. 88); “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 3 star Jaimie Goodwin dishes “The Dirt” (p. 46) and Kenny Wormald spills about the filming of his new movie, Footloose (p. 43). Plus Houston Ballet II dancer Makensie Howe shares the diary she kept throughout the Youth America Grand Prix finals in NYC (p. 52).
But before you dig in, this month we crown a winner in a competition of our own. Please join me in congratulating Kaitlynn Edgar, winner of Dance Spirit’s 2011 Cover Model Search! Thousands of readers voted for each of the finalists—Maddie Swenson, Zoey Anderson and Kaitlynn. These girls are not only talented and beautiful dancers—they care about being educated, as well. This fall Kaitlynn and Maddie are studying at Juilliard (Kaitlynn as a freshman and Maddie as a sophomore), and Zoey is a freshman at Marymount Manhattan College. Turn to p. 74 to find out how Kaitlynn’s experiences last year changed the way she’s thinking about her dance future.
One last thing: Entering the 2012 Cover Model Search competition is easy! Just log on to dancemedia.com and upload a video of yourself dancing. You (yes, you!) could be one of the three dancers selected to come to NYC and compete for the featured spot on next year’s cover. Remember: You can’t win if you don’t try!
Best of luck,
Photos top to bottom: Sarah Pippin, photo by ProPix/New York City Dance Alliance; Center Stage Performing Arts Studio's "Monsters" routine at NYCDA, photo by ProPix/New York City Dance Alliance
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.
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.
When we think of a dancer who's broken barriers, American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland tends to be the name that comes to mind. And though Copeland has been a crucial advocate for equality in the world of ballet, Raven Wilkinson—a mentor of Copeland's—is considered one of the original pioneers of the movement.
In 1955, Wilkinson became the first African American to dance with the renowned Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Her fortitude in the face of bigotry and hate cemented her legacy. Now, with the release of the new children's book Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, a new generation of dancers will be inspired by her tale of overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream.
The book details Wilkinson's life, from her experience as a young dancer training in Harlem, to her run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan while on tour with Ballet Russe, to her later ballet career in Europe. "There were times where my heart really hurt because of the situations I had to deal with," she says. "But I always had faith that I was made to be a dancer and that I was gonna dance."
Dance Spirit spoke with Wilkinson to discuss the new book and get her take on racial equality within the ballet world.
Postmodern pioneer Trisha Brown redefined how dance is seen and felt. A founding member of Judson Dance Theater, Brown frequently collaborated with other experimental artists like Yvonne Rainer, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, and Steve Paxton.
She embraced pedestrian movement, pairing everyday gesture with rhythm and fluidity. "It's liquid," says Wendy Perron, who danced with Brown in the '60s and '70s. "Like a river with many tributaries, water coming out of a faucet, or being on a raft and seeing the water move away in different directions." Brown also pushed beyond stages with choreography in fields, museums—even on the sides of buildings.
There's a common misconception that a dancer's body has to be thin. But the truth is that talent knows no body type, and the number on the scale never determines an artist's capabilities. Here are some extraordinary dancers fighting the stereotype of what a dancer "should" look like.