Mentors Who Matter
The first thing that jumps out about Gabe Stone Shayer, who begins a year-long contract with American Ballet Theatre's Studio Company in September, is how easily he commands attention. Tall and sinewy, he has an ever-ready smile that wows, and a carefree confidence that makes him a natural prince.
When Gabe was six years old, he wrote in a grade school essay that the best day of his life occurred when he decided to become a dancer. He's 17 now, and it's clear he's in it for the long haul. A Rock School alum and a Youth American Grand Prix winner, he earned a month-long scholarship to the Bolshoi Ballet Academy after completing their summer intensive in New York two years ago. Last fall, he returned to Moscow for nine months of transformative training with the ballet master he now considers his most influential coach, Ilya Kuznetsov. (At the end of his term at the Bolshoi, Gabe snatched up 5s--the equivalent of As--in all his exams!)
Gabe returned to the US in June, just in time to begin ABT's NYC summer intensive. Kustenov was also in the Big Apple, teaching at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy's summer intensive. I caught up with them both just as they were finishing up their summer projects to discuss their strong, father-son-like bond.
Giannella Garrett: What was it like to spend a year studying at the Bolshoi Academy, Gabe?
Gabe Shayer: Amazing! At first they saw me as an international student who hadn't trained for as long as the Russian students, or who wasn't as polished. But I ended up getting to the top of the class. As a result, I stood in the middle of the barre, which is a big deal there.
GG: I heard that Mr. Kuznetsov noticed you during your first month-long stay at the Bolshoi Academy and requested that you be put in his graduating class when you returned.
GS: Yup. I first arrived in Moscow on a Saturday morning, just in time for pas de deux class. When it was over, Ilya took me to the school's auditorium stage, where they were rehearsing La Fille Mal Gardée. He called over the kid who was doing the soloist role, and told me to "go on stage right now, in his spot." So I went. I didn't know what I was doing. But I ended up dancing that part at the Bolshoi and during the school's tour to Greece.
Ilya Kuznetsov: I was impressed by Gabe's appearance on stage. I begged to have him in my class. It's his combination of appearance, talent and character. It's hard to explain. When I watch Gabe dance, I forget about the rules.
GG: Gabe, you took Mr. Kuznetsov’s two-hour technique class six days a week. What made him an effective teacher for you?
GS: Many times after class ended and everyone was leaving he'd keep me in the studio and give me corrections, working with me privately and talking to me about what I needed to do with my body and what wasn't working in class. That scaled everything down to bite-sized terms I could understand better.
IK: The amazing thing about Gabe is he's the only student who never missed a lesson! He's an extremely hard worker. He had only five months to reach the same level of my graduating class. He surpassed them.
GG: What are your hopes for the future, Gabe?
GS: I think everyone wants this, but I would love to be up there with Baryshnikov and Nureyev. People think, oh, ballet, it's about the girl. And it is, a little. But those men made names for themselves because they were just so amazing at what they did. I'm trying to get there.
Since the NYC premiere of Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream at American Ballet Theatre's spring gala Monday night, the DS editors haven't stopped talking about its creepy-cute sets and costumes, created by artist Mark Ryden. Well, the obsession is about to get even crazier, because we just heard that Ryden's artwork for the ballet is now on display in not one, but TWO locations in NYC.
Yes, yes, we know: Dancers are athletes as well as artists. But we haven't seen anything hammer home just HOW athletic dancers are quite as well as this video from Self magazine, which features American Ballet Theatre principal/fairy princess Isabella Boylston trying to teach top-level CrossFit enthusiasts ballet.
There's a reason Mia Michaels' nickname is "Mama Mia." The legendary choreographer invests deeply in her dancers, whether they're competitors on "So You Think You Can Dance," members of the Radio City Rockettes, or part of her own elite assistant squad. And now, Michaels is launching a project that aims to give more dancers access to her gifts as a teacher and mentor.
And that's a wrap on "Dancing with the Stars" Season 24, ladies and gents! It's certainly been one for the books. From injuries to shocking eliminations, let's just say Season 24 has had its emotional ups and downs. But despite all that, the season made for some seriously phenom dancing and some killer performances. And as usual, we've loved watching every second of those cha chas, foxtrots, and waltzes.
Let's get right to the exciting stuff, though: Last night's winning couple of "Dancing with the Stars" is...
Nearly 80,000 dance-loving Instagram followers can't be wrong: Quinn Starner is one to watch. And what's just as impressive as the 15-year-old's rabid online following is her ever-growing list of competition accolades. Quinn, who trains at Indiana Ballet Conservatory and Stars Dance Company, been named first runner-up at The Dance Awards for two years in a row (as a junior and a teen); was the 2016 West Coast Dance Explosion Teen National Champion; earned first place in contemporary and third place in the classical division at Youth America Grand Prix Regionals in Pittsburgh last year; has won the Grand Prix Award at ADC|IBC; and was a gold medalist at World Ballet Art Competition Grand Prix. Plus, she made it to the Academy round on last year's "So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation," and has performed as Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Here's what Quinn has to say about her favorite songs, teachers, and career highlights.
Want a chance to get personally involved in the HOTLY anticipated TV show "World of Dance"? Of course you do. That's why J. Lo. and the rest of the "WOD" team have launched an interactive version of the upcoming NBC series that lets Snapchatters get in on the action.
On Saturday morning, Russell Horning—aka 15-year-old Instagram king @i_got_barzz—was already kind of famous. His admittedly bad but weirdly mesmerizing dance videos had earned him shoutouts from the likes of Rihanna (and dance tributes from the likes of Josh Killacky).
But by Sunday morning? By Sunday morning, Russell Got Barzz had reached an entirely different level of memedom. Because Katy Perry tapped the teen—signature backpack and all—to perform "Swish Swish" with her on "Saturday Night Live." And the internet lost its darn mind.