My Top 5 Moments From The New York City Dance Alliance Gala
To most of my friends, summer means days on the beach applying sunscreen and reading magazines.
To me, summer brings long nights in chilly convention ballrooms, taking frantic notes about this year's up-and-coming, OMG-we-have-to-feature-them dancers.
And I wouldn't have it any other way: Nationals season is my favorite time of the dance year.
One of the highlights for me is always the night of the New York City Dance Alliance senior gala. All these dancers have flown in to NYC to audition for scholarships, take classes with a killer faculty and, if all goes really well, take home some top prizes (Outstanding Dancer titles and Critic's Choice are the most coveted).
Last night, Rachel, Margaret and I got all dressed up to attend a long-but-awesome evening with Joe Lanteri and incredible dancers. Here are five of what I have deemed the night's most memorable moments:
1. Sitting in the audience and actually witnessing lives changing onstage. NYCDA is big in the whole "dancers, you should go to college" movement, which we fully support. (Just wait for our September issue, which is dedicated to higher ed.) Lanteri and his team awarded $1.7 million in college scholarships last night to schools including Point Park University, Marymount Manhattan College, Dean College and more. The most amazing presentation was when Lanteri presented Montana Michniak (who, by the way, is stunning) with a full scholarship to the University of the Arts. Her family and teacher (I assume) were seated right behind Rachel and me, and they jumped to their feet, applauding and crying. Their kid just got her college education paid for. Lives = changed. (Sorry I didn't do that, Mom.)
2. Seeing the dancers we've featured kicking major butt. Remember in April when we did that story on "Who's Who on the Comp Scene?" Well, many of those dancers were at NYCDA last night — and they all rocked. Kali Grinder was part of a group routine up for senior Critic's Choice and she handed over her 2011 National title. Hannah Seiden dazzled in her group routine, and Victoria McWilliams (one of my long-time favorites) won 2nd Runner-Up Senior Outstanding Dancer. Christina Ricucci took 2nd Runner-Up Teen Outstanding Dancer, and Jordan Pelliteri won the Teen OD title. On the men's side, Vinson Fraley represented, nabbing the 2nd Runner-Up Male OD spot.
3. Spotting a dancer in a crowd of 112 Teen Outstanding Dancer hopefuls and shouting, "OMG she's beautiful" — and then realizing it was our own Cover Model Search finalist Megan Skalla! Megan totally stuck out during the Teen OD opening number (with hard-hitting, fun choreography by Joey Dowling), not just for her exquisite beauty, but also for her movement quality. Then, in the pack of Senior OD's, we saw another CMS finalist: Alyssa Ness! Alyssa was in the Top 8 for the seniors, and Megan took home the 1st Runner-Up teen title. We're so proud!
4. The Newsies opening number. I cannot get sick of this show. I've seen it, I have the soundtrack, and I've spent hours (uh, seriously) staring at the photos from our July/August cover shoot with the Newsies boys. They are just so dang talented, and kicking off the night with a performance of "Seize the Day" gave me goosebumps that lasted the entire night (also the ballroom was kind of cold).
5. The people-watching, of course! Everywhere I looked I saw one of my favorite dance celebs. Joey Dowling was there in sky-high heels (of course), May/June cover girl Taja Riley made her full-time faculty debut, and Jakob Karr was just a few seats down. Kaitlynn Edgar looked dynamite in a strapless chambray jumpsuit (probably the only person I know who can pull that off) and Tony Testa looked dynamite in...actually, who cares what he was wearing? He's Tony Testa. And I love him.
If I could pick sixth and seventh outstanding moments from the gala, they would be Colton Krouse's solo performance (in a toga!) that won him the Teen OD title, and Ivan Kalinin's "I'm sad my year as a National winner is over so I'm going to dance for you now" performance. Keep an eye out for these two dudes: They're going places. Like, onto DS covers, perhaps...
Oh, and an eighth moment! Alexia Meyer's National Outstanding Dancer victory performance. She may be tiny, but that girl can attack. I'm thrilled she won.
Congratulations to all of last night's performers. You inspire us. (Now go celebrate on the beach like everyone else!)
Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2017 Cover Model Search finalists: Haley Hartsfield, Kaylin Maggard and Michelle Quiner! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's October 2016 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below.
We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.
Attention, ladies and gentlemen: We've officially hit Nationals season! And that means it's time to dig through those closets to find the perfect clothes to get you noticed during convention classes. The task can feel totally overwhelming—but we're here to help. Follow our guidelines, and you'll be rocking the dance floor with Travis Wall and making Stacey Tookey yell "GORGEOUS!" in no time.
Oh man. This is getting ROUGH.
Last night marked the second round of head-to-head duels on "World of Dance." Once again, we were feeling real pity for the judges—and it takes a lot for us to pity J. Lo—because we've reached a point in the competition where there aren't any clear winners. Everyone's insanely good. And yesterday's showdowns paired acts that were so unalike, comparing them felt a little unfair.
So, who emerged from these cruel duels victorious?
We've said it before and we'll say it again: dance and film are made for each other. In the past couple of years, ballet companies have used the medium to promote new work, creating "trailers" that give beautiful peeks at upcoming premieres. These short films reach many people who are unable to see the ballets performed live—and they definitely debunk the misconception that ballet is boring. Here are five of our all-time favorites.
Performing on a Broadway stage might seem glamorous, but it comes with one of the most grueling schedules a dancer can face. Maintaining your stamina and energy, warding off injury and keeping the material fresh for eight shows a week is no joke. So how do dancers do it? Dance Spirit talked to ensemble members from some of Broadway's danciest shows to get their survival tips.
This week, we're in the Big Apple: home of Broadway, New York City Ballet, and Dance Spirit HQ! They say if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. So who made it to The Academy this week? Pretty much everyone—with lots of amazing Vanessa Hudgens one-liners along the way. (We love you, Vanessa!)
You should know Leiomy Maldonado's name, because she's shaped the way you dance. Called the "Wonder Woman of vogue," the trailblazing artist was the first transgender woman to appear on "America's Best Dance Crew," as part of the Vogue Evolution crew. And her signature "Leiomy Lolly" hair flip has inspired everyone from Beyoncé to FKA Twigs to Willow Smith to, odds are good, your own teachers and choreographers. (Smith even asked Maldonado to appear in the video for "Whip My Hair," to show the world how to do the flip properly.)
Now, Maldonado is the star of a new Nike ad celebrating the queer and transgender dancers who form the heart of the voguing community. Directed by Daisy Zhou, the spot is narrated by transgender artist Precious Angel Ramirez, and showcases Maldonado's extraordinary skills, as well as those of several other dancers from the vogue scene.