Chloé Arnold. Photo by Shona Roberson/courtesy Divine Rhythm Productions.
Tap diva Chloé Arnold started hoofing at age 6—and made her professional debut four years later in Savion Glover’s All Star Tap Revue. Known for her musicality and explosive onstage personality, Arnold has since racked up performance credits including Debbie Allen’s Brothers of the Knight, the hit show Imagine Tap! and The Oneness Awards honoring Michael Jackson. You may also have seen her tearing up the floor in Beyoncé’s music video “Upgrade You” or in Sean Paul’s “Give It Up to Me” video for Step Up. She’s no slouch as a scholar, either: Arnold holds a degree in film from Columbia University, where she also studied acting. In 2009, Arnold—a Washington, D.C., native—founded the D.C. Tap Festival with her sister, Maud (DS December 2009). In addition to producing the annual festival, Arnold guest teaches at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in L.A. and remains an in-demand solo tap artist. —Sarah Badger
A young Chloé Arnold with Gregory Hines. Photo courtesy Chloé Arnold.
Dream huge, set your goals high and don’t let anything throw you off your path. Train with passion, focus and determination. A strong foundation will earn you respect in your field.
Stay positive. Even in the face of disappointment, you will find your way. I know you’re facing financial challenges, but don’t let that stop you for a minute. Put in the work and one day you will be able to create opportunities for others.
Improvisation is intimidating right now, but keep at it. One day, you’ll end up falling in love with it and performing improvised solos around the world!
When it comes to the guys, develop meaningful friendships and demand respect. Never let anyone suppress your dreams or your self-confidence.
And cherish your relationships with your family and friends. Nurture your little sister. Your bond with Maud will mean the world to you.
Be yourself: Wear your hair big and wild, rock the clothes that inspire you and tap your heart out! Your passion will take you around the world, and bring joy and happiness to your life and others’. Stay humble, be thankful and don’t let anybody steal your sunshine!
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.