The surface you dance on can play a crucial role in how well you move. Whether the floor is uneven, sticky or slippery, it can significantly influence your performance by causing injuries or forcing you to modify choreography. When I was in 7th grade, my friends and I learned this lesson the hard way while performing a hybrid tap and jazz routine to The Jackson 5’s “Rockin’ Robin.” The number worked great in the studio, but as soon as we hit the stage, tappers started sliding and falling. One even sprained her ankle! The stage was more slippery than the studio floor and it caught us by surprise.
Dancers across the spectrum encounter similar surface-related challenges all the time—especially when they’re forced to perform under unusual conditions. A few DS readers recently shared their craziest dance floor moments. Here are our favorites:
A few summers ago I danced at an outdoor community event with my studio in Greencastle, PA. Our teacher had told us to wear sneakers because she assumed we’d be dancing on concrete. But there was an acro mat available when we arrived, so we decided to dance on that instead. My partner and I decided to wear socks for our lyrical duet so that we would be able to perform all of the movements full out. We felt fine that afternoon, but the next morning we both woke up with blisters all over our feet. It had been 80 or 90 degrees outside on the afternoon of our performance and the sun had heated up the mat to the point that it burned our feet!—Whitney Fetterhof, a senior dance major at George Washington University
When It Rains, It Pours
I was a dancer in a rock musical called [ital: Falco] in Vienna, Austria, in 2002. During dress rehearsal the director decided there should be a rain scene, so the crew rigged the stage to rain on us while we were dancing. The first time we came running out to try the scene, the entire cast went sliding and we all fell over! We tried to do turns but our feet kept slipping. The choreographer, Teddy Wilcox, decided we should all wear army boots for traction, but of course we couldn’t do pirouettes in them. We couldn’t do leaps either—a few dancers pulled their backs trying to do jetés in the heavy boots. The original choreography for that scene was amazing, but most of it had to be cut to accommodate the rain. —Tom Richardson, dancer and choreographer
The Brigham Young University Cougarettes have danced at the annual Las Vegas Bowl pep rally for the past five years. Three years ago, the girls had to perform on an ice rink that had simply been covered by cardboard, which moved as the girls danced. They performed about five times throughout the evening and every time they stepped off the area, they told me how lucky they were not to have broken their necks! To compensate for the poor surface, the girls couldn’t do any turns or tricks. They had to avoid a lot of our technical jazz moves and stick to our pom choreography. —Jodi Maxfield, Spirit Coordinator and Cougarette Dance Team Artistic Director, Brigham Young University
Mixing It Up On Cement
I used to belong to a modern and jazz troupe that was once asked to perform at a local shopping mall. We were asked to do a couple of numbers and repeat them every half hour throughout the day. Our performance space was an empty store with bare cement floors. There wasn’t an elevated stage, so I ended up developing tendonitis after a full day of leaping and jumping on the unforgiving surface. —Annie-Danielle Grenier, Montreal, Canada
Do you have a similar story to share? Tell us about it by sending an e-mail to email@example.com!
The groundwork for Erin Carpenter's company, Nude Barre, began when she was a teenager. At 16, she earned a spot in the residency program at The Kennedy Center in partnership with Dance Theatre of Harlem. "We were required to wear nude—as in, our actual skin tone—tights and shoes," she remembers. Carpenter brought her "sun tan" tights and a pair of pink ballet shoes with her, because that was all she could find. But she wasn't allowed in class because her dancewear didn't match her skin. "I was so embarrassed," she says. "I looked unprepared. I just didn't have the right nudes." Her teacher explained that the dancers dyed their tights and pancaked their shoes.
There are dancers and then there are DANCERS! Whitney Jensen, soloist at Norwegian National Ballet, is the latter. The former Boston Ballet principal can do it all. From contemporary to the classics this prima has the technical talent most bunheads dream about. Need proof? Look no further.
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's dance inducing hit, "Despacito," is so catchy it should probably come with a disclaimer that warns people of an uncontrollable itch to tap your feet or bob your head. Some might even feel inclined to go all out and break it down. Niana Guerrero is a prime example of "Despacito's" uncanny ability to unleash the red dressed emoji dancer within. 💃🏽 💃🏽
Guys, we all knew this was coming—"World of Dance" was eventually going to eliminate someone. But man, is it brutal to watch these talented dancers give their all, only to be sent home. It's the name of the game, though, and after last night's episode, only two dancers per division remain. (At least Misty Copeland guest-judging was a silver lining!) Here's what went down last night:
They've impressed the judges, now it's time for the Top 100 dancers to enroll at The Academy—and to impress the All-Stars. Welcome to So You Think You Can Dance Academy!
The 100 dancers who made it through auditions in NYC or L.A. are now at The Academy, which is basically a beautiful building with floor-to-ceiling windows. The show opens with that Mandy Moore-choreographed Academy routine which, even after watching it 12 times and trying to learn all the choreography at home, is still delightful.
This Nationals season, Dance Spirit followed four talented dancers from The Dance Awards, NYCDA, Showstopper, and Starpower for an inside look at everything that goes into the biggest competitions of the year. First up: Isabella Torres from Mid-Atlantic Center for the Performing Arts in Baltimore, MD, who competed at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals for the first time this year. (All photos courtesy Shannon Torres.)
Merritt Moore is a ballerina who just so happens to be graduating from Oxford University with a PhD in quantum physics. Is she even human? The jury is still out on that - but the 29-year-old, who earned her undergrad degree from Harvard, has actually found dance to be a powerful tool that assists her in her studies.