Michelle Dorrance (by Matthew Murphy/Kenn Tam)
Tap star Michelle Dorrance has charmed audiences all over the world with her big smile and lightning-fast feet. The North Carolina native started tapping at age 4, and studied ballet at the Ballet School of Chapel Hill—founded by her mother, M’Liss Gary Dorrance. Later, Dorrance joined Gene Medler’s North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble. She moved to NYC in 1997, and has since performed with renowned tap companies and in the off-Broadway show STOMP. She choreographs frequently, most often for her company, Dorrance Dance/New York, whose debut performance in 2011 earned her a Bessie award. Today, you can take Dorrance’s tap class at NYC’s Broadway Dance Center, where she’s been teaching since 2002. —Komal Thakkar
My first question for you is: Are you stretching?! I know your heart and soul belong to tap dancing, but that doesn’t get you off the hook. Sure, it’s embarrassing that you’re the only one in your mom’s ballet class who can’t sit comfortably in your splits, but flexibility is something you can achieve with hard work, and it will help your body for years to come.
You have one of the greatest mentors a girl could ask for: Gene Medler. always remember his mantra: “Dance to express, not to impress.” It will empower your artistry and help you forge genuine connections with the dancers and musicians you work with.
Dorrance as a teen, with Savion Glover (by Gene Medler)
Keep indulging your love of music. Never stop singing, drumming or playing guitar. You may never have had a lesson, but those basic skills will come in handy one day. They’ll also help you create unique phrasing for your improv and choreography.
As your dad says, you can always choose to be a positive life force amidst those caught up in bringing others down. Stand up for people who are bullied—even if the bullies are dancers you look up to. Stay humble but strong, and never let anyone shake your integrity.
Don’t worry about being different. The masters you love and look up to are each unique. Cherish your time with them, as they won’t be around for long.
Well, this brings class videos to a whole new level! Choreographer Phil Wright and dancer Ashley Liai have been together eight-plus years, but she was still in total shock when he proposed to her mid-dance at Millennium Dance Complex earlier this week. Why? Well, the whole thing was unbelievably perfect.
In the dance industry, dancers don't always have a say in what they wear on their bodies. This can get tricky if you're asked to wear something that compromises your own personal values. So what should you do if you find yourself in this sticky situation? We sat down for a Q&A with "Dancing with the Stars" alumn Ashly Costa to answer that very question. Here's what she had to say about the options dancers have surrounding questionable costumes.
The groundwork for Erin Carpenter's company, Nude Barre, began when she was a teenager. At 16, she earned a spot in the residency program at The Kennedy Center in partnership with Dance Theatre of Harlem. "We were required to wear nude—as in, our actual skin tone—tights and shoes," she remembers. Carpenter brought her "sun tan" tights and a pair of pink ballet shoes with her, because that was all she could find. But she wasn't allowed in class because her dancewear didn't match her skin. "I was so embarrassed," she says. "I looked unprepared. I just didn't have the right nudes." Her teacher explained that the dancers dyed their tights and pancaked their shoes.
There are dancers and then there are DANCERS! Whitney Jensen, soloist at Norwegian National Ballet, is the latter. The former Boston Ballet principal can do it all. From contemporary to the classics this prima has the technical talent most bunheads dream about. Need proof? Look no further.
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's dance inducing hit, "Despacito," is so catchy it should probably come with a disclaimer that warns people of an uncontrollable itch to tap your feet or bob your head. Some might even feel inclined to go all out and break it down. Niana Guerrero is a prime example of "Despacito's" uncanny ability to unleash the red dressed emoji dancer within. 💃🏽 💃🏽