America fell in love with Neil Haskell on “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 3—but the talented technician has much more than just spectacular dancing up his sleeve. “I’ve been acting and singing for almost as long as I’ve been dancing,” Neil says. So it’s no wonder this triple threat has gotten comfy on Broadway—in Twyla Tharp’s The Times They Are A-Changin’, 9 to 5, and most recently, Bring It On: The Musical. He’s also been featured in several movies, returned as a “SYTYCD” All-Star for Seasons 7, 8 and 10, and danced at the 2013 Emmy Awards. Want more Neil? Read on for The Dirt. —RZ
(Photo by Mathieu Young/FOX)
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
An actor, a lawyer or a professional baseball player. (I’m now an all-star shortstop in the Broadway softball league!)
What performer would you drop everything to go see?
Ben Vereen. I met him on the “SYTYCD” set this past season, and I definitely geeked out.
What’s your must-see TV show?
It used to be “Breaking Bad,” but now that the series has wrapped, my must-see show is “New Girl.”
What’s the strangest thing in your dance bag?
A headband with a mullet attached. You never know when you’ll need a mullet.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
I’m ridiculously competitive at iPhone games, and I won’t stop until I have the high score. You name the game, I’ll learn it and kick your butt by the end of the day. Don’t even try me. Seriously.
Who is your dance crush?
I can’t name just one. I’ve had crushes on many girls I’ve danced with.
What’s your dream role?
Eddie in Movin’ Out on Broadway.
What’s been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Opening night of The Times They Are A-Changin’, my first Broadway show. That was the moment I felt I’d “made it.” At 19, I still had a lot of growing to do, but it was the start of a new chapter.
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.