Miami City Ballet Reminds Us "Why We Dance"
I know we're only a few days into the new year, with its promise of renewal and a fresh start and yahda yahda yadha. But after the craziness/excitement of Nutcracker and the holidays, odds are decent that you're actually feeling a little...unmotivated in the studio right now. It's just weird to go from EVERYTHING IS INSANE I'M ONSTAGE ALL THE TIIIIIIME to the same-old, same-old routine of classes and rehearsals.
Well, the dancers of Miami City Ballet are here to shake you right out of your post-holiday slump. In "Why We Dance," a beautiful new video by Ezra Hurwitz, artists from every rank of the company talk about what drives them to pursue this nutty, wonderful art. As one of them so perfectly puts it, the question "is not necessarily, 'Why do I dance?' It's more, 'Why can't I stop dancing?' "
There are dozens of gems like that in the three-and-a-half–minute short, set against footage of Miami City Ballet artists in class, backstage and in performance. (You'll catch several glimpses of "Strictly Ballet" season 2 star Mayumi Enokibara, who's now a full company member.) It's intimate and warm and—because we know exactly what the dancers are talking about—very real. If you're a big ol' softy like me, it might even make you tear up a little bit.
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.
The dancers who take our breath away are the risk-takers, the ones who appear completely fearless onstage. "When you see somebody trying to travel more, go farther, push the limits of their physical abilities, that's always going to be inspiring," says Ballet BC dancer Alexis Fletcher.
But dance training can feel like it's in conflict with that idea. We spend thousands of hours in the studio trying to do steps perfectly, and that pursuit of perfection can make us anxious about taking risks. What if we fail? What if we fall?
Luckily, fearlessness is a mental skill that you can work on, just as you work on your technique. Here's how you can learn to push yourself past your limits.
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Auditioning for summer intensives in person may be the ideal—but for Anna McDowell, a 16-year-old student at Juneau Dance Theatre in Juneau, AK, it's rarely possible. “Living in Alaska, it's difficult to travel to auditions," she says. “It gets way too expensive!" Instead, each year, with help from her teachers and a videographer, she puts together a well-crafted video and submits it to schools around the country. Last year, her high-quality video helped her earn acceptance to nearly every program she applied for. Most summer intensive programs, eager to attract students from far and wide, will accept video auditions from those who can't travel to take class. But major schools look at hundreds of submissions each year, which means video auditioners have just a few minutes—or even seconds—to make a great impression. If you're about to create an audition video, follow these tips from the professionals to put your best digital foot forward.
There are zillions of things to think about when choosing a summer program, but here's one you might not have considered: using an intensive as an opportunity to focus on a new style. Maybe you're a tap dancer who's ready to see where else your rhythm and quick feet can serve you, or a contemporary dancer curious about the more traditional roots of your genre. A summer program can be the perfect place to broaden your horizons, giving you the opportunity to make technical and artistic changes that stick throughout the year.
Happy birthday, George Balanchine! The great choreographer and founder of New York City Ballet would have been 114 years old today. Balanchine revolutionized ballet, especially American ballet—and he also had quite a way with words. To celebrate Mr. B's birthday, we rounded up some of our favorite iconic Balanchine quotes.
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.