Chapman as Myrta in "Giselle." Photo by Angela Sterling.
With her serene stage presence and powerful, statuesque frame, Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Maria Chapman embodies both grace and strength. The ballerina began studying dance intensively at Terpsichore Co., Ltd., in Atlanta, GA, and continued her training on full scholarship at the School of American Ballet in NYC. Chapman first came to PNB as an apprentice in 1995, joined the main company in 1996 and steadily climbed through the ranks, achieving the title of soloist in 2005 and principal in 2009. Though Seattle audiences know her for her vibrant performances of George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs, her work extends beyond the theater: In 1998 she helped create Second Stage, a PNB program that supports dancers transitioning into other careers. Check out Chapman performing this month in PNB’s “Love Stories” program. —Amy Smith
Chapman at age 12 in the Boston Ballet summer program. Photo courtesy Maria Chapman.
You are growing up so fast—slow down! You are in a wonderful phase of your life and it will be gone before you realize it. You have the skills you need to take care of yourself, but you don’t have to act like an adult yet. Don’t take yourself so seriously!
Realize that your friends are going through the same things you are. Don’t be afraid to talk to them about your feelings. You will all be friends for life, so you should begin supporting each other now.
Don’t be embarrassed about starting your intensive ballet training a little “late.” You will still make it! You don’t realize it now, but you actually started preparing for your ballet career before you knew it. Gymnastics, running track, playing the violin—these things gave you great tools. Use them. And keep running. It will help you get through that crazy growth spurt!
Whenever you’re frustrated, do something that makes you happy. Taking pleasure in ballet class—or even just homework—will make your problems easier to handle. You are going to dance for a long time, through many ups and downs; keeping a positive attitude will make a huge difference.
Be sweet to and confident in yourself. Know that just being you is enough. You don’t have to change anything!
The grown-up, ballerina you,
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.
When a choreographer finds a composer whose music truly inspires her, it can feel like a match made in dance heaven. Some choreographers work with the same composers so frequently that they become known for their partnerships. New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck, for example, has tapped composer Sufjan Stevens numerous times (last spring, the two premiered The Decalogue at NYCB, to rave reviews); L.A. Dance Project's Benjamin Millepied's working relationship with composer Nico Muhly has spanned a decade and two continents; and when tap dancer Michelle Dorrance premiered the first-ever Works & Process Rotunda Project, a site-specific work for New York City's Guggenheim Museum, last year, percussionist Nicholas Van Young was by her side as an equal partner. Successful collaborations require compatibility between artists, direct and honest communication, and flexible, open minds. But when the stars align, working with a composer can be extremely rewarding.
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.
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!
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.