Lauren Grant in Mark Morris' Mozart Dances. Photo by Stephanie Berger.
She may be small, but Mark Morris Dance Group’s Lauren Grant has a stage presence that’s larger than life. Whether gliding fluidly through Morris’ Mozart Dances or hamming it up as the spunky Marie in The Hard Nut (Morris’ tongue-in-cheek take on The Nutcracker), she commands attention with every inch of her 4' 11" frame. Grant began her dance training when she was 3, eventually studying ballet with Irena Makkai and Inesse Alexandrov and attending summer programs at Boston Ballet and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. After earning her BFA from Tisch, she joined MMDG in 1996 and has since appeared in more than 40 of Morris’ works. Today Grant is also on faculty at the company’s school (and married to fellow dancer David Leventhal). Catch her performing this month with MMDG at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. —Margaret Fuhrer
Grant's college audition photo at age 17. Photo courtesy of Lauren Grant.
From the age of 3 your love of dance has been exceptional. You’ve developed the confidence to follow your dream even though so many dismissed your potential because of your unconventional body type. In actuality, your petite stature will serve you well in many of the roles you’ll dance.
As you continue to train, stay open-minded. Remain receptive to the information various teachers offer you. It’s easy to hold on tightly to habits you learned throughout childhood. Adapt, change and grow with enthusiasm.
Never assume you are done learning. As a 15-year veteran with the Mark Morris Dance Group I still spend every day working to better my technique and artistry. When you are ready, explore the texture, quality and musicality of dance. Advance beyond focusing on the look of the steps and play with the dynamics of the entire phrase of movement.
Remember, as a dancer, your job is to communicate with your audience. You chose this field because you’re comfortable speaking through your body. Be eloquent!
Dancing in a company is a social experience. As you strive for personal excellence, don’t neglect the importance of learning how to dance with others. And always interact with patience, generosity and kindness.
The career ahead will be worth every bead of sweat, shed tear and sore muscle. Toi, toi, toi!
With my best wishes,
P.S. A mere bowl of Raisin Bran won’t fuel you through that last attitude promenade of the Rose Adagio (which you’ll perform when you’re 16). Eat better!
Well, this brings class videos to a whole new level! Choreographer Phil Wright and dancer Ashley Liai have been together eight-plus years, but she was still in total shock when he proposed to her mid-dance at Millennium Dance Complex earlier this week. Why? Well, the whole thing was unbelievably perfect.
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.
The groundwork for Erin Carpenter's company, Nude Barre, began when she was a teenager. At 16, she earned a spot in the residency program at The Kennedy Center in partnership with Dance Theatre of Harlem. "We were required to wear nude—as in, our actual skin tone—tights and shoes," she remembers. Carpenter brought her "sun tan" tights and a pair of pink ballet shoes with her, because that was all she could find. But she wasn't allowed in class because her dancewear didn't match her skin. "I was so embarrassed," she says. "I looked unprepared. I just didn't have the right nudes." Her teacher explained that the dancers dyed their tights and pancaked their shoes.