Holley Farmer

Spectacular control and effortless extensions separate longtime Merce Cunningham Dance Company member Holley Farmer from the crowd. A late bloomer, it wasn’t until age 16 that Farmer began taking ballet classes with Hae Shik Kim at the Fig Garden Dance Studio in Fresno, CA. She was a natural. After dancing with the Theatre Ballet of Canada and in Toronto’s production of The Phantom of the Opera, Farmer returned to California to perform with the Oakland Ballet. She was unexpectedly diagnosed with a stress fracture in her fifth lumbar vertebra, but she used her recovery time to complete a B.F.A. at the Cornish College of the Arts, then an M.F.A at the University of Washington. It was at the latter that Farmer first met Merce Cunningham, who was in residence there. In 1996, she was asked to become an understudy with MCDC, and in 1997 she joined the main company. Farmer’s body of work with the troupe earned her a New York Dance and Performance Award (a “Bessie”) in 2004. After a rewarding career with MCDC, Farmer recently began working with another dance trendsetter: Twyla Tharp. —Marisa Graniela

Holley Farmer with Koji Mizuta and Silas Riener in Merce Cunningham's Nearly Ninety (Anna Finke)

Holley!

Don’t accept that apprenticeship at the bakery. I know it seems like a good idea—a job that maybe, one day, will get you to France. But trust me, you’ll get to see France without that apprenticeship. You’ll get to dance at the Paris Opéra—twice!

Keep hope for your dance career alive. Right now, as the oldest and biggest in your dance class, you feel totally awkward. Even the 10-year-olds write you off. (Well, you did show up to your last recital already wearing your tutu. Promise me you’ll put it in a garment bag next time!)

But soon, something important is going to happen: Your teacher is going to give you the keys to the studio. And there, alone, you’ll work out why you can’t do lame ducks and why you love jetés. You’ll fall on your butt and lose track of time. You’ll discover that your greatest gift is your love of movement.

So here’s what to do if you want to eat croissants in Paris, not make them:

1) Nurture your talent. Surround yourself with people who remind you why you love to dance.

2) Figure out your body’s strengths and weaknesses. Work on that core!

3) Start writing letters and filling out scholarship applications now. Opportunities don’t grow on trees.

4) Study other arts and cultures. The world needs dancers with a point of view—so find one!

Don’t bail on me now, Hol. I’m counting on you!

Bonne chance,

Holley

Win It
Photos by Erin Baiano

It's time to get your pirouette on! From September 5th to September 30th, we're hosting a contest to find out who's the best turner of them all.

Put together your most impressive turning combo. Post a video online. Share your turns with us and thousands of other dancers around the world. And if our editors think you're the top turner, you'll win a fabulous prize.

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Dancer to Dancer

All of 18-year-old Kaylin Maggard's dreams—from scoring the title of National Senior Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals to winning the 2017 Dance Spirit Cover Model Search—are coming true. And to anyone who knows the gorgeous contemporary dancer, that's no surprise.

From the moment the Dance Spirit staff met Kaylin, it was obvious her humility and talent would take her far. Not only did she go full-out during the photo shoot and class at Broadway Dance Center, but she was always cheering on, laughing with, and supporting her fellow CMS contestants Haley Hartsfield and Michelle Quiner. During the voting period, the social media world was abuzz with praise for her work ethic, positive attitude, and generosity.

Since her CMS trip to NYC, Kaylin's moved from her hometown of Columbia, MO, to the Big Apple for her freshman year at Juilliard, and is busy getting acquainted with the city. As for the future? She's taking it one opportunity at a time, but something tells us we'll be seeing this contemporary queen reach new heights every year.

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New York City principal Lauren Lovette has become an icon thanks to her emotional maturity and exceptional musicality. The 26-year-old quickly rose through the ranks after joining the company as an apprentice in 2009, reaching principal status in 2015. A Thousand Oaks, CA, native, Lovette started studying ballet seriously at age 11, at the Cary Ballet Conservatory in Cary, NC. After attending two summer courses at the School of American Ballet, she enrolled as a full-time student in 2006. Last year, she made her choreographic debut with For Clara, her first piece for NYCB. Catch her latest work this month during the company's fall season. —Courtney Bowers

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In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

I know I'm not getting good enough dance training from any of my local studios. But I'm not sure I'm ready to move away to study at a big-name school, either. How do you know when you're ready to leave home to pursue your passion?

Marisa

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Your Body

Instagram star Kylie Shea has built a following of nearly 170,000 with her playful workout videos, which combine traditional fitness activities, like jumping rope or running on the treadmill, with pointe shoes and sassy choreography. Shea's effortless cool-girl-next-door vibe and solid ballet technique make her vids totally irresistible.

Now Shea's using her platform to address the body image issues that tend to plague dancers. In a poignant video, she sheds her clothes and tugs at her skin. The caption explains her relationship with her body and the pressure she feels to maintain a certain aesthetic as a dancer.

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Your Body

Physical discomfort is inevitable when you're spending tons of hours in the studio every day, but some pain shouldn't be suffered through. "Dancing through pain can make an injury worse and lead to more time away from dance," says Dr. Joel Brenner, medical director of dance medicine at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk, VA. "Failing to rest and recover when you're in serious pain could even lead to the point where you're unable to dance in the future."

That may sound scary, but there's good news: If you take precautions and listen to your body, many injuries can be stopped in their tracks. The first step? Knowing what's normal—and what's not.

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Popular
(From left) Beatriz Stix-Brunell and Yasmin Nagdhi in a still from "Duet"

Think about it: How often do you see a ballet pas de deux for two women? Almost never, right? Sometimes, choreographers will forgo the traditional danseur-ballerina pas to make a duet for two guys, since they can lift and partner each other easily. But a dance for two ballerinas is a rare thing.

That's part of what makes "Duet," a new video by director Andrew Margetson featuring Royal Ballet beauties Yasmin Naghdi and Beatriz Stix-Brunell, so compelling.

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Watch This
(From left) Reese Hatala and Phoenix Lil' Mini in "LULAS" (via YouTube)

What happens when Willdabeast Adams gets two of his most amazing lilBEASTS—the pint-sized Reese Hatala and Phoenix Lil' Mini, aka LULAS ("Love U Like A Sister")—to make a video set to a throwback mashup of songs? So, so much cuteness. And so, so much 🔥🔥🔥 .

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