Annmaria Mazzini

Annmaria Mazzini in Paul Taylor's "Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rehearsal)." Photo by Tom Caravaglia

Just when you think you’ve got Paul Taylor Dance Company member Annmaria Mazzini pegged, she goes and morphs on you. One night she’s totally convincing as a fiery tango siren in Piazzolla Caldera; the next she’s equally magnetic as a groovy hippie chick in Changes. No matter what role she’s inhabiting, she always takes full command of the stage, throwing every inch of her petite frame into Taylor’s notoriously demanding choreography. Mazzini started taking dance lessons at age 12 in her hometown of Allentown, PA, and eventually earned a BFA from Southern Methodist University, where she discovered Taylor’s work. (One of her classmates at SMU was fellow PTDC star Michael Trusnovec, DS April 2009.) In 1995 Mazzini joined Taylor 2, and was promoted to the main company in 1999. Today she not only wows audiences with her chameleon-like stage presence, but also teaches modern dance, choreographs and designs her own jewelry line, AMulets.  —Margaret Fuhrer

 

Dear Annmaria,

Congratulations on discovering what makes you happy! You’ve chosen a challenging path—difficulties and setbacks are inevitable in the dance world—but the love in your heart will see you through.

Dancing is your favorite activity and you work very hard at it, but you also love to read. Keep it up. Your imagination will become your most valuable tool in your work as a performer and teacher, so continue to feed it with stories and ideas that awaken your curiosity and invigorate your spirit.

But don’t get your shy nose stuck in those books! Dance is a social art, and you will be interacting with a wonderful range of people. Get to know them, learn their stories and let them know you. They are all going to help you along the way, so make a practice of saying “thank you” often and sincerely. Learn to say it in the language of every country you visit.

Yep, you’ll never be perfect. But it’s more fun to be interesting! Your perceived flaws are as much a part of who you are as your strengths. Keep trying to be better, but be yourself, too. Allow your inner world to express itself freely in the outer world. Don’t worry about making a fool of yourself: You will, plenty of times, but it won’t be so bad. It may even be delightful.

Love,

Annmaria

Dancer to Dancer

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.

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Win It
Courtesy CAA

You read that right, people—Dance Spirit's giving away two tickets to the "SYTYCD" tour in the city of your choice, complete with an exclusive meet & greet with select cast members! Read on for the complete prize listing and official rules.

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Tiler Peck and Chase Finlay in Swan Lake (photo by Paul Kolnik)

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.

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Low on dancewear inspiration? Return to the classics in bold black and elegant white.

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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!

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Dance News

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.

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Dance News
Via Facebook

Almost a month out, Puerto Rico continues to suffer the devastating aftereffects of Hurricane Maria. Many of the island's residents still lack power, clean water, and safe housing. Ballet classes? For Puerto Rican dance students, they must feel like an impossible luxury.

But a dance studio in Florida is working to allow a group of young Puerto Ricans to continue their training. And it needs your help.

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Dancer to Dancer
Gianluca Russo (via Instagram)

Yes, I am a dancer, and yes, I am fat.

There's nothing quite as soul-crushing as the reactions I've received when I've told people I dance. They can range from disbelief to confusion to shock. To many people, it's somehow incomprehensible that a plus-size person like myself could grace a stage. While the body-positive movement has been trucking along at full force over the past few years, it hasn't made much progress in the dance community yet. In fact, the words "body positivity" and "dance" are almost never used together in the same sentence.

Despite that fact, dance is what helped me learn to love my larger frame. In honor of National Body Confidence Day, I wanted to talk about my first time in a studio, and about the tremendous progress I've made since.

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