NDA College Nationals Finals
Last weekend I jumped on a plane to Daytona Beach, FL and headed to the NDA College Dance Team Championship. Our April cover girls from Towson University’s dance team were competing for their 12th national title, and we wanted to be there to cheer them on.
If you haven’t been to NDA nationals before, I highly recommend making the trip next year. It’s a one of a kind experience that you’ll likely never forget. Competing the same weekend as the dancers are the NCA Collegiate Cheerleading teams. Yes, you will feel like you stepped into Bring It On. And you can forget about getting good night’s rest—there are teams practicing until all hours of the night right outside your window! [Note: If you don’t have it by the time you get there, you’re probably not going to get it.]
After a long day of prelims on Thursday, the scores were close, and the tops teams were only separated by a few tenths of a point. It was intense—I love competition. I was more than ready for Friday morning’s finals, but nervous for all of the teams.
In Divisions I, II and III the competition was tough, but the first place winners were not surprising. However, it was a showdown in Division IA—literally. Up to this point in the competition the divisions had alternated so that no two teams competing against each other went back-to-back. But when it got to the end, there were only two teams left: The University of Louisville and Brigham Young University, the top two Division IA contenders. They both executed perfect routines, but their strengths were different. Louisville’s precision, formations and jumps were outstanding. BYU’s technique, artistry and choreography were untouchable. All I can say is that I’m SO glad I was not a judge.
After the routines were performed the crowd went silent, eagerly anticipating the results. Division III Champions: McLennan Community College. Division II Champions: Hawaii Pacific University. Division I Champions: Towson University (YAY!). Finally, we were to Division IA. The emcee announces that the top two teams are divided by less than three hundredths of a point (oh my gosh!!) and the crowd goes crazy. “And the second place team, from….(30 second pause-Seriously??)…. Louisville, KY, the University of Louisville! Brigham Young went crazy. Their parents cried, their coach cried, their dancers cried, I even cried. Congratulations to the BYU Cougarettes on a job well-done and a title well-deserved.
And Congratulations to the Ladybirds. You were fabulous as well. I can’t wait for next year.
To see the routines from this year’s competition, click here.
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.
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.
When we think of a dancer who's broken barriers, American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland tends to be the name that comes to mind. And though Copeland has been a crucial advocate for equality in the world of ballet, Raven Wilkinson—a mentor of Copeland's—is considered one of the original pioneers of the movement.
In 1955, Wilkinson became the first African American to dance with the renowned Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Her fortitude in the face of bigotry and hate cemented her legacy. Now, with the release of the new children's book Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, a new generation of dancers will be inspired by her tale of overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream.
The book details Wilkinson's life, from her experience as a young dancer training in Harlem, to her run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan while on tour with Ballet Russe, to her later ballet career in Europe. "There were times where my heart really hurt because of the situations I had to deal with," she says. "But I always had faith that I was made to be a dancer and that I was gonna dance."
Dance Spirit spoke with Wilkinson to discuss the new book and get her take on racial equality within the ballet world.
Postmodern pioneer Trisha Brown redefined how dance is seen and felt. A founding member of Judson Dance Theater, Brown frequently collaborated with other experimental artists like Yvonne Rainer, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, and Steve Paxton.
She embraced pedestrian movement, pairing everyday gesture with rhythm and fluidity. "It's liquid," says Wendy Perron, who danced with Brown in the '60s and '70s. "Like a river with many tributaries, water coming out of a faucet, or being on a raft and seeing the water move away in different directions." Brown also pushed beyond stages with choreography in fields, museums—even on the sides of buildings.
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.
We always love a good halftime performance. And we LIVE for halftime performances involving talented kids. (Fingers and toes crossed that Justin Timberlake follows Missy Elliott's lead and invites some fabulous littles to share his Super Bowl stage.)
So obviously, our hearts completely melted for 5-year-old Tavaris Jones. Tavaris may have just started kindergarten, but during Monday night's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, the Detroit native danced with the panache of a veteran pro at halftime.