Must-See Ballet Documentaries
This year’s documentary on Youth America Grand Prix, First Position, has been hogging all the limelight lately (understandably—it’s awesome! Read our take here.) But if you loved it as much as we did, you’re in luck because, over the last couple years, some equally captivating dance documentaries have been released. Here are two of my favorites:
Dancing Across Borders is a film about the development of a Cambodian boy named Sokvannara (Sy) Sar into a strong and powerful ballet dancer. And I mean powerful. You should see his tour en l’airs! In January 2000, Sy was performing a traditional Cambodian dance in his native country when American dance patron Anne Bass spotted him. She was captivated by his performance and asked Sy to audition for the School of American Ballet. After many conversations and lots of decision-making, 16-year-old Sy finds himself under the instruction of Olga Kostritzky (the embodiment of tough love).
As you watch him leave behind everything (including parents who don’t fully understand why he’s going) to dance in a foreign country, despite the fact that he has little knowledge of English and had never even seen ballet before, you can’t help but be truly inspired by his drive and work ethic. Check out the trailer here:
Only When I Dance is another one of my favorite inspirational international dance documentaries. It follows the lives of two aspiring teenage ballet dancers. Sound familiar? The major difference between this film and First Position is that the dancers in Only When I Dance are both living in poverty in the Favelas, or the slums, of Brazil. Despite prejudice, financial difficulty and doubt, these two are determined to beat the odds and dance in international ballet companies.
It won’t take more than a few seconds for you to fall in love with Irlan, a breathtaking dancer with so much heart and a smile that’ll make you melt. Although you’ll be rooting for him the moment he appears on the screen, his father is initially skeptical. Ballet is still seen by many in Brazil as an art form exclusive to wealthy, white elite, and is certainly not seen as a suitable career for boys. I felt like a proud parent as I watched him progress enough to attend the Prix de Lausanne in Switzerland, and couldn’t help but giggle at his excitement at seeing snowflakes for the first time.
Isabella is a beautiful, black ballerina with incredible passion and a twinkle in her eye. Unfortunately, the color of her skin and her weight (by professional ballet standards) work against her. Plus, her father works two jobs to barely make ends meet. She’s taken under the wings of former ballerina Mariza Estrella, founder of the Centro de Dança, who is determined to help her succeed. (She’s fierce!) Watch the trailer here:
I promise you won’t be disappointed. Sy, Irlan and Isabella certainly know how to inspire.
It's time to get your pirouette on! From September 5th to September 30th, we're hosting a contest to find out who's the best turner of them all.
Put together your most impressive turning combo. Post a video online. Share your turns with us and thousands of other dancers around the world. And if our editors think you're the top turner, you'll win a fabulous prize.
All of 18-year-old Kaylin Maggard's dreams—from scoring the title of National Senior Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals to winning the 2017 Dance Spirit Cover Model Search—are coming true. And to anyone who knows the gorgeous contemporary dancer, that's no surprise.
From the moment the Dance Spirit staff met Kaylin, it was obvious her humility and talent would take her far. Not only did she go full-out during the photo shoot and class at Broadway Dance Center, but she was always cheering on, laughing with, and supporting her fellow CMS contestants Haley Hartsfield and Michelle Quiner. During the voting period, the social media world was abuzz with praise for her work ethic, positive attitude, and generosity.
Since her CMS trip to NYC, Kaylin's moved from her hometown of Columbia, MO, to the Big Apple for her freshman year at Juilliard, and is busy getting acquainted with the city. As for the future? She's taking it one opportunity at a time, but something tells us we'll be seeing this contemporary queen reach new heights every year.
New York City principal Lauren Lovette has become an icon thanks to her emotional maturity and exceptional musicality. The 26-year-old quickly rose through the ranks after joining the company as an apprentice in 2009, reaching principal status in 2015. A Thousand Oaks, CA, native, Lovette started studying ballet seriously at age 11, at the Cary Ballet Conservatory in Cary, NC. After attending two summer courses at the School of American Ballet, she enrolled as a full-time student in 2006. Last year, she made her choreographic debut with For Clara, her first piece for NYCB. Catch her latest work this month during the company's fall season. —Courtney Bowers
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 for a chance to be featured!
I know I'm not getting good enough dance training from any of my local studios. But I'm not sure I'm ready to move away to study at a big-name school, either. How do you know when you're ready to leave home to pursue your passion?
Instagram star Kylie Shea has built a following of nearly 170,000 with her playful workout videos, which combine traditional fitness activities, like jumping rope or running on the treadmill, with pointe shoes and sassy choreography. Shea's effortless cool-girl-next-door vibe and solid ballet technique make her vids totally irresistible.
Now Shea's using her platform to address the body image issues that tend to plague dancers. In a poignant video, she sheds her clothes and tugs at her skin. The caption explains her relationship with her body and the pressure she feels to maintain a certain aesthetic as a dancer.
Physical discomfort is inevitable when you're spending tons of hours in the studio every day, but some pain shouldn't be suffered through. "Dancing through pain can make an injury worse and lead to more time away from dance," says Dr. Joel Brenner, medical director of dance medicine at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk, VA. "Failing to rest and recover when you're in serious pain could even lead to the point where you're unable to dance in the future."
That may sound scary, but there's good news: If you take precautions and listen to your body, many injuries can be stopped in their tracks. The first step? Knowing what's normal—and what's not.
Think about it: How often do you see a ballet pas de deux for two women? Almost never, right? Sometimes, choreographers will forgo the traditional danseur-ballerina pas to make a duet for two guys, since they can lift and partner each other easily. But a dance for two ballerinas is a rare thing.
That's part of what makes "Duet," a new video by director Andrew Margetson featuring Royal Ballet beauties Yasmin Naghdi and Beatriz Stix-Brunell, so compelling.