Jenkins performing with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company (photo by Paul B. Goode)
Bill T. Jones dancer Shayla-Vie Jenkins is a collection of opposites: majestic yet modest, poised yet relaxed, explosive yet contained. She dances as if she’s having an intimate conversation with each member of the audience.
A native of Ewing, NJ, Jenkins began her training at the Watson-Johnson Dance Theatre and the Mercer County Performing Arts School. In 2004, she graduated from the Ailey/Fordham BFA program (with a minor in English literature) and went on to dance with the Kevin Wynn Collection, nathantrice/RITUALS and the Francesca Harper Project. In 2005, she became a founding member of Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre and joined the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Today, Jenkins continues to captivate audiences as a dancer and artistic collaborator in both companies. —Maggie McNamara
Hi Shay Shay,
Try not to worry so much about things. What will be will be. You’ve heard that song before, right? You only have control over yourself—your words, actions and efforts. Put your focus and energy there.
Your dream is to become a professional dancer? Keep your nose to the grindstone. Don’t get hung up on your fears and insecurities. Developing a strong work ethic now will set you up for not only your dance career but also your life.
(courtesy Shayla-Vie Jenkins)
There’s no greater way to express the range of human emotions than through dance. But I know you feel you’re not as good as others. You tend to get lost in clouds of “if onlys”: If only you had started in the Alvin Ailey junior division earlier; if only you were shorter, thinner, had higher arches, were less muscular. If only you were another version of yourself. But then you wouldn’t be YOU! Accept where you are at any given moment. No excuses, no comparisons, no “what ifs”—nothing but the work. You must be fearless.
In dance class, you gravitate toward the back row. Move forward into the light and take the space. Lift your head up and dance with your eyes wide open.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I know dancing on pointe is a challenge. Don’t avoid it. Keep going—you’re getting closer to success. Stay with the things that are difficult. Push your limits, girl. You don’t know how far they go.
Learn to love the process. The collaboration and everyday practice that go into creating a work are just as important as the final outcome. We are not fixed beings—nothing is permanent. Enjoy the transitions. Be brave.
I love you unconditionally.
PS: Wrap your arms around your amazingly supportive parents and tell them how thankful you are for all they’ve done.
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.
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.
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.
The coolest place she's ever performed:
I'd have to say the Super Bowl. The field was so cool, and Katy Perry was right there. And there were so many eyes—definitely the most eyes I've ever performed for!
Something she's constantly working on:
My feet. I'm flat-footed, so I'm always hearing, 'Point your toes!' And I'm like, 'I am!'
My hair! That, and a pair of leggings with a T-shirt or tank top.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email email@example.com for a chance to be featured!
For a long time, I was the strongest dancer at my studio. But this year there's a new girl in my class who's very talented, and my teacher's attention has definitely shifted to her. I'm trying not to feel jealous or discouraged, but it seems like my whole dance world has changed. Help!
In the dance world, Mandy Moore has long been a go-to name, but in 2017, the success of her choreography for La La Land made the rest of the world stop and take notice. After whirlwind seasons as choreographer and producer on both "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance," she capped off the year with two Emmy Award nominations—and her first win. Dance Magazine caught up with her to find out how she's balancing all of her dance projects.