Houston Ballet principal Melody Herrera has been described as “the Audrey Hepburn of ballerinas.” It’s not hard to see the physical resemblance—the delicate frame, the porcelain skin—but Herrera also shares the actress’s dramatic intelligence and beguiling vulnerability. Melody lives up to her own name, too: Her fine-tuned musicality illuminates both the steps and the score, whether she’s playing Marie Antoinette in Stanton Welch’s Marie or dancing Jirí Kylián's contemporary ballet Petite Mort.
Born in Santa Cruz, CA, Herrera began her training at Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre. At 13, she started attending summer programs at Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy, which led to a year with Houston Ballet II when she was 17. In 2001, she joined the main company, and in 2008 she was made a principal. Today, Herrera plays one of her most important roles offstage: Mom to 6-year-old son Isaac. —Margaret Fuhrer
I want to share with you the wisdom I’ve gained by making many mistakes and a few good choices.
Start setting goals for yourself now—goals with time frames. They’ll help you maintain your focus each day in the studio. Realize that these goals need to be challenging enough to push you, but not so challenging that they become discouraging.
Moments of disappointment will make you doubt yourself, but learning to persevere in the face of misfortune is one of life’s most valuable lessons.
Go out with friends and have fun—in moderation. This is the time to learn how to take care of your body, just as a musician keeps his instrument in good condition. The better you treat yourself now, the longer your instrument will play beautiful music.
Watch and learn. You’re fortunate enough to be surrounded by talented dancers. Be a sponge, and absorb not only the corrections given to you, but also the ones given to others.
Be brave. Don’t let your flaws make you timid. Draw strength from what you believe, and from all the people who love and support you. You are not alone.
P!nk, known for her high-flying, acrobatic awards show sets, has literally raised the bar for pop stars everywhere. For her performance at last night's American Music Awards, P!nk decided to break out some flips and tricks ON THE SIDE OF A BUILDING. WHILE FLAWLESSLY SINGING HER FACE OFF. You know, just casually, like you do when you're a full-on goddess.
When you think of a dancer, a double leg amputee may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But Eric Graise, who's one of the stars of the upcoming "Step Up: High Water" YouTube Red series, hopes to change that. Graise, whose legs were amputated as a child due to missing fibula bones, will play a character named King in the new dance series, set to debut early next year.
We all suffer from Nutcracker fatigue sometimes. After a zillion performances, it's hard not to. But there's nothing to restore your little-kid sense of Nutcracker wonder like a look at the sheer scale of a world-class Nut.
New York City Ballet's iconic production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker opens on Friday, and for the past week, the company has been Tweeting out some seriously eye-popping #NutcrackerNumbers. The stats cover everything from the number of jingle bells used on each Candy Cane costume (that'd be 144) to the watts of light used in the show's grand finale (ONE. MILLION. WATTS.).
One of the most beautiful things social media has brought us is the ability to feel like we're up close and personal behind-the-scenes with all our favorite dancers. And one of our favorite stars to Insta-stalk are actually two casts of 36 scintillatingly synchronized precision dancers. I'm talking, of course, about my mild obsession with the legendary Radio City Rockettes.
Consistent turns are a must for aspiring professional dancers, but pretty much everyone struggles with pirouettes at some point. Luckily, since we're all beholden to the same rules of physics, there are concrete steps every dancer can take to reach his or her top turning potential. “Three is the new two when it comes to pirouettes, but the secret to turning is technique, not magic," says Bojan Spassoff, president and director of The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia.
Falling out of your doubles? Aspiring to go revolution for revolution with your class's star turner? No matter where you lie on the turning spectrum, our 360-degree guide to pirouettes will help you improve.
You rehearse your group routine to perfection, but when the big performance rolls around, everyone turns into speed demons. It's the runaway-train effect—and it only takes one loud tapper, or zippy turner, to throw the whole group off the music.
While nerves and excitement are partly to blame, the ability to keep to tempo begins in the studio. A well-developed sense of musicality is your best defense against the dreaded speed trap. "When you understand how the steps fit with the music, going too fast won't just feel like rushing," says Jeremy Arnold, lecturer of tap at the University of Texas at Austin. "It'll feel wrong." How can dancers develop that musicality? It all starts with learning to listen.
Have we mentioned lately how much we love dance dads? Especially ones who show up to their daughter's ballet class sporting a tutu, like Thanh Tran.
You've seen it a million times: A glamorous, toned dancer posts a perfectly styled shot of her colorful smoothie bowl. The caption gushes about how great you'll feel if you eat "clean"—but what does that actually mean? DS asked registered dietitian/nutritionist Rachel Fine and holistic health coach (and founder of The Whole Dancer) Jess Spinner for all of the dirt.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org a chance to be featured!
I'm being bullied by one of the girls at my studio, and it's awful. I've talked to my dance teacher and confronted the bully directly, but it hasn't made a difference. What should I do?
Bunheads, this one's for you. They say you can tell a Nutcracker by its "Snow" scene—and we fully believe it. There are so many versions with extra goodies—olive branches! Fake snow! Sleds! Choirs! Snow queens!—and each brings a special something to the holiday favorite. But do you know which ballet has what?