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!
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.
When a choreographer finds a composer whose music truly inspires her, it can feel like a match made in dance heaven. Some choreographers work with the same composers so frequently that they become known for their partnerships. New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck, for example, has tapped composer Sufjan Stevens numerous times (last spring, the two premiered The Decalogue at NYCB, to rave reviews); L.A. Dance Project's Benjamin Millepied's working relationship with composer Nico Muhly has spanned a decade and two continents; and when tap dancer Michelle Dorrance premiered the first-ever Works & Process Rotunda Project, a site-specific work for New York City's Guggenheim Museum, last year, percussionist Nicholas Van Young was by her side as an equal partner. Successful collaborations require compatibility between artists, direct and honest communication, and flexible, open minds. But when the stars align, working with a composer can be extremely rewarding.
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.