Dancer to Dancer

Lani Dickinson's power, grace, and raw presence make her a standout with AXIS Dance Company, whose mission is to change the face of dance and disability by featuring a mix of disabled and non-disabled performers. Born in China, Dickinson was adopted by an American couple and started dancing at 8 in Towson, MD. She attended the Boston Ballet School for two summers, studied at the Idyllwild Arts Academy for the last two years of high school, and graduated with a dance degree from Alonzo King LINES Ballet's BFA program with Dominican University of California. In 2015, she joined AXIS and won a Princess Grace Award. Catch her this month during AXIS Dance Company's 30th-anniversary season—and read on for The Dirt!

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Dancer to Dancer
The multitalented Merritt Moore (photo by James Glader, courtesy Moore)

For the past decade, Merritt Moore has been living a double life as both a professional ballerina and a quantum physicist. While dancing with Zurich Ballet and Boston Ballet, she received her undergrad degree from Harvard in physics, and she's currently pursuing a PhD in quantum physics at Oxford while performing with English National Ballet and London Contemporary Ballet.

Now, Moore is hoping to add another ball to her juggling act: becoming an astronaut. She's one of 12 contestants competing on the BBC reality show " Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?" For six weeks, Moore and her competitors face a series of demanding physical and psychological challenges to see if they're astronaut material. (Show mentor Chris Hadfield, former Commander of the International Space Station, will recommend the winner to space agencies recruiting for astronauts.) Even in a cast of extremely accomplished people—the contestants include a military pilot, a surgeon, and a dentist who has summited Mount EverestMoore's unusual combination of skills stands out.

We leveled with the renaissance woman about how she's managed to pursue all her different passions.

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Eye Candy
Boston Ballet's Misa Kuranaga and Patrick Yocum (courtesy Rachel Neville/Boston Ballet)

We're on somewhat of a dance photography kick here at DS, so we figured we'd keep it going in a very big way: an exclusive interview with Rachel Neville, the photographer responsible for all those absolutely drool-worthy dance photos on your Instagram feed. We caught up with Neville at PurePoint Financial in NYC, where her new show, "A Command Performance," is up on display (and we highly recommend you check it out).

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Watch This
Via @physicsonpointe on Instagram

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.

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Dance News
Shwetali Sapte, courtesy Boston Ballet

Yes, Dance Spirit, there really is a Santa Claus. And we've got proof—namely, the delightfully silly stunt Boston Ballet's Nutcracker Bear pulled off last week to celebrate the start of ticket sales for BB's 2017 production of the holiday ballet classic.

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Watch This

What does dance mean to you? That's the question Boston Ballet principal John Lam asks his fellow company members in a moving new short film. The dancers' responses, which we hear as we see them performing fluid choreography by Lam, are lovely: "Joy." "Change." "Truth." "Love." "Freedom."

It'd be a meaningful watch even if it were released in a vacuum. But its message hits with special force because Lam created the video to show support for the embattled National Endowment for the Arts, which faces elimination under President Trump's proposed budget.

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Dance News

It's officially Nutcracker season, and you know what that means: Snow! Sugarplums! Hot chocolate! 40-foot tall Christmas trees!

This year, Boston Ballet took their performance previews to the next level. Their "Frozen Snowflakes" video captures the spirit of the snow scene from every angle imaginable by using awesome 3-D imagery. (ABT just used a similar method with a 360-degree camera for its backstage tour of Lincoln Center). We rounded up our favorite GIFs from the video, and be sure to check it out in full here!

<3 <3 <3

Wheeeee!!

 

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Dance News

"Free puppies and 25% off tickets!" That was the subject line of the Boston Ballet promotional email that landed in my inbox this morning.

I kind of blacked out for a second.

BOSTON BALLET IS GIVING AWAY FREE PUPPIES! BOSTON BALLET IS GIVING AWAY FREE PUPPIEEEEEEES!!!

And then I remembered that it's April 1st, and my dream of frolicking with little baby doggies dressed in little baby tutus died a slow, sad death.

At least they gave us a picture of a puppy.

But hey, nice work, BB. And the 25% off tickets thing is for real, so, Bostonians, get on that!

(UPDATE: I've been informed that the fun continues on the Boston Ballet Facebook page, where the company has introduced its newest "pup-erinas":)

They didn't name these lovelies, but might we suggest Anna Pawlova, Barkot Fonteyn, and Alicia Wooflonso?

Enjoy the silliest day of the year, everyone. May your dance teacher terrify you with impossible combinations, only to scream "April Fools!" as the pianist cues up; may you and your dance friends repay her by swapping barre spots every time she turns her back.

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