Kathleen Breen Combes George Balanchine's "Serenade."
(Photo by Rosalie O'Connor)
Kathleen Breen Combes may be only 5' 4", but she looks like the tallest person onstage—an optical illusion created by her oversized jump and radiant charisma. Raised in Fort Lauderdale, FL, Combes had difficulty walking as a child because her leg muscles were underdeveloped. Hoping to strengthen Combes’ legs, her mother enrolled her in ballet class, and Combes took to it immediately. She trained at the HARID Conservatory and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet before earning a contract with The Washington Ballet in 2000. Three years later she joined Boston Ballet, where she became a principal dancer in 2009. Catch Combes in BB’s “Pricked” program and George Balanchine’s Jewels this spring. —Margaret Fuhrer
My dearest Kathleen,
First, thank you. Thank you for your hard work, your sacrifices and the strong foundation
you’ve laid for your future. Here are a few things to remember on your journey:
Right now you’re wondering if you have what it takes to be a professional dancer. Deep down you know you do. It’ll be hard work——I’m not even going to tell you how hard——but it’ll be worth it. During those rare onstage moments when all the work combines with your passion for dance, creating an indescribable feeling, the hours of training and rehearsal will seem like nothing.
photo, Bill Keefrey
Watch people to learn, not to compare or critique. It’s great to admire pointed feet, high legs and multiple pirouettes, but spend more time watching the approach, the intention, the tilt of the head and the focus of the eyes. At some point everyone in the room will be just as talented as you, and the little things will be what set you apart.
Become reliable. Use your brain just as much as your body. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want——be strong and know your worth. It’s OK to acknowledge your abilities and fight for them.
Quit hiding your weaknesses. Everyone has them. Strive for perfection in rehearsal, but when you step onstage, know that it’s your imperfections that make you interesting. And don’t be afraid to fail. You’ll learn a lot from your failures. Give it your all——the worst you can be is bad.
Enjoy every day, even when you’re tired, unmotivated or sore. Your career will fly by, so relish the process.
Work on yourself as a person. Remain authentic, listen, learn and watch. And enjoy the ride, because it’s a really great one.
P.S. Listen to your mom when she tells you to keep taking college classes
There's a reason Mia Michaels' nickname is "Mama Mia." The legendary choreographer invests deeply in her dancers, whether they're competitors on "So You Think You Can Dance," members of the Radio City Rockettes, or part of her own elite assistant squad. And now, Michaels is launching a project that aims to give more dancers access to her gifts as a teacher and mentor.
And that's a wrap on "Dancing with the Stars" Season 24, ladies and gents! It's certainly been one for the books. From injuries to shocking eliminations, let's just say Season 24 has had its emotional ups and downs. But despite all that, the season made for some seriously phenom dancing and some killer performances. And as usual, we've loved watching every second of those cha chas, foxtrots, and waltzes.
Let's get right to the exciting stuff, though: Last night's winning couple of "Dancing with the Stars" is...
Nearly 80,000 dance-loving Instagram followers can't be wrong: Quinn Starner is one to watch. And what's just as impressive as the 15-year-old's rabid online following is her ever-growing list of competition accolades. Quinn, who trains at Indiana Ballet Conservatory and Stars Dance Company, been named first runner-up at The Dance Awards for two years in a row (as a junior and a teen); was the 2016 West Coast Dance Explosion Teen National Champion; earned first place in contemporary and third place in the classical division at Youth America Grand Prix Regionals in Pittsburgh last year; has won the Grand Prix Award at ADC|IBC; and was a gold medalist at World Ballet Art Competition Grand Prix. Plus, she made it to the Academy round on last year's "So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation," and has performed as Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Here's what Quinn has to say about her favorite songs, teachers, and career highlights.
Want a chance to get personally involved in the HOTLY anticipated TV show "World of Dance"? Of course you do. That's why J. Lo. and the rest of the "WOD" team have launched an interactive version of the upcoming NBC series that lets Snapchatters get in on the action.
On Saturday morning, Russell Horning—aka 15-year-old Instagram king @i_got_barzz—was already kind of famous. His admittedly bad but weirdly mesmerizing dance videos had earned him shoutouts from the likes of Rihanna (and dance tributes from the likes of Josh Killacky).
But by Sunday morning? By Sunday morning, Russell Got Barzz had reached an entirely different level of memedom. Because Katy Perry tapped the teen—signature backpack and all—to perform "Swish Swish" with her on "Saturday Night Live." And the internet lost its darn mind.
If, like me, you've ever wondered (and wondered) how that stunning opening scene in La La Land came together, do we have a treat for you.