For more than 20 years, David Parsons has been creating exuberant and energetic modern works for his company, Parsons Dance. He boasts a repertoire of more than 70 pieces—and that doesn’t include dances commissioned by other companies, such as New York City Ballet and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Born in Chicago and raised in Kansas City, MO, Parsons first studied gymnastics before beginning his dance training at 12. He moved to NYC at 17 and just eight months later joined the Paul Taylor Dance Company, where he performed for nine years before founding Parsons Dance in 1987. As a choreographer, Parsons’ style combines the refined control of ballet with the freedom of modern dance. In his signature work, Caught, a dancer appears suspended in the air, an optical illusion created by the clever use of a strobe light that captures the dancer mid-leap while shadowing his (or her) moments of touchdown. Parsons Dance tours extensively, so look for the company at a theater near you. —Katie Rolnick
Get ready: You’re about to take a chance and move to NYC at the ripe old age of 17, to see what the dance capital of the world has to offer. You’ll find the choreographer whose work speaks to you: Paul Taylor. You’ll dance with his company for nine years before beginning to make and perform dances of your own.
Right now, it’s probably hard to believe all the wonderful things you’ll be lucky enough to do. Your dances will be performed by companies all over
the world. And when you ultimately make the difficult decision to leave the Paul Taylor Dance Company, after it’s nurtured you for many years, it will pay off.
You’ll create your own dance company, for which you’ll be a little bit of everything: choreographer, administrator, wardrobe supervisor. But you’ll need to remember to stay in class and keep growing as a dancer, too. That’s a skill that will remain valuable throughout your career.
The world of dance is forever challenging. But you’ll find that dealing with all the aspects of this amazing art form—movement, color, light, content—will make you a better, more mature artist.
P.S. The dance world is extremely small—so don’t burn those bridges!
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.
We always love a good halftime performance. And we LIVE for halftime performances involving talented kids. (Fingers and toes crossed that Justin Timberlake follows Missy Elliott's lead and invites some fabulous littles to share his Super Bowl stage.)
So obviously, our hearts completely melted for 5-year-old Tavaris Jones. Tavaris may have just started kindergarten, but during Monday night's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, the Detroit native danced with the panache of a veteran pro at halftime.