Right now, you're probably getting pretty pumped about one major high school milestone: Prom! Do you have your dress yet? Did you work up the courage to ask that special someone? Are you planning the best-ever post-prom party? We thought so.

Dancers do prom in the best way. I mean, getting dressed up and dancing the night away? That's kind of our M.O. To get in the spirit of all things prom, Dance Spirit asked a few of our favorite pros about their big nights—and what they had to say is just so cute!

Tookey looking fab with husband Gene Gabriel at the 2011 Emmy Awards (via Zimbio.com)

Stacey Tookey

I wore a floor-length, velvet (yes, velvet!) wine-colored dress with a sweetheart neckline and a long slit up the side. I also wore long white gloves, like I was royalty or something. My mom did my hair—which, in that pre-blonde era, was brown—in an updo. (Actually, that hair is the only part of the outfit I'd reprise today. Go, mom!) It was 1994, and I thought my outfit was amazing.

At the reception, my date pulled out my chair for me, and like the dancer I am, I sat down in a wide, turned out second, and I ripped the slit of my dress all the way up to my waist! I was so embarrassed. But my very sweet date gave me his suit jacket, and I wore it all night.

Kyle Hanagami can certainly bust a move now! (Jayme Thornton for DS)

Kyle Hanagami

I went to prom with a bunch of friends. I think I wore a suit... I don't really remember, but I'm sure it wasn't super cool. What I can remember is standing on the dance floor and being terrified to dance! I didn't start dancing until after I graduated high school, so I couldn't even two-step. How embarrassing!

Dowling in her real wedding gown with husband Reza Fakrieh (via @joeydowling)

Joey Dowling

When I was a sophomore, I got to go to prom with a guy I thought was the hottest boy in school. He was a junior, and he was blonde, tan and buff—he looked like a surfer. I remember shopping for my dress with my mom, and thinking how absolutely perfect it had to be. I found it: A white halter dress with a low back and beading all the way up the front. I probably looked like I was about to walk down the aisle...but I thought it was gorgeous! I wore my hair in a high French twist with the ends hanging out and curled. (That was big back then.)

The prom was held in the Capitol building in my hometown. The whole night felt like a fairy tale. Date dances in high school were usually lame and awkward, but that night was one of the best of my life!

Prom! A young Torbert posing with friends from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (Courtesy Torbert)

Ade Chike Torbert

I ended up asking my girlfriend at the time to prom. But because we didn't start dating until the end of the school year, we had both originally planned to go with close friends of ours—so it was a little tough breaking the news to them.

I wore an all-white suit with a white fedora and a champagne-colored vest. I was definitely the best-dressed! We all had such a great night. Our prom was held at this beautiful venue by the South Street Seaport in NYC, and there was a ton of food and great music. Then we boarded a yacht and continued to party until the wee hours of the morning.

Not going to prom this year? You're not alone. Many of the dancers we spoke with confessed they never made it, either—they were too wrapped up in their dance commitments. Take former New York City Ballet soloist (and current Dance Spirit columnist!) Kathryn Morgan, for example:

Morgan with Seth Orza in NYCB's Romeo and Juliet (Paul Kolnik/NYCB)

Kathryn Morgan

Unfortunately, I never got to go to a real prom. I was hired by New York City Ballet at the end of my junior year of high school and finished school online. I do, however, consider my debut as Juliet my "prom." I was 17, and it was a huge deal for me. There was a beautiful ballroom scene, and that was a pretty great prom substitute! I wore three dresses and had two hairstyles: up for the first half of the evening, and half-up/half-down for the second. My "date" was my Romeo, Seth Orza...though he was engaged to someone else! 

 

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Canadian Dance Company performs a memorable routine at Showstopper's East Coast Finals. (Photo Courtesy Canadian Dance Company)

Think fouettés are the key to a judge’s heart? Think again. While judges love strong technique, tricks aren’t what they remember in the long run. Instead, creativity, performance quality and moving storylines reign supreme. Here, seven competition judges dish on what made some routines more memorable than others.

Robert Bianca, Showstopper

I still talk about a number performed by 10 guys from Canadian Dance Company about three years ago. The dance was to Phil Collins’ “Take Me Home,” and it was about men returning from war. The dancers entered the stage slowly, as if they were shell-shocked by what they’d been through, and it built from there in terms of intensity, emotion and physicality. It was a technical piece, but it never felt like they were doing tricks. We were blown away by the artistry.

Christian Vincent, L.A. DanceMagic

In 2005, I saw a number called “Tricky” in Baton Rouge. The jazz dance wasn’t like the routines that typically dominate that category. The dancers wore black netted costumes with their hair slicked back. They were technically strong and as they danced you saw that they each had a mature performance quality. I have an affinity for dancers with an edge, who have the ability to go from strong movement to light movement easily—they had that. Dancers are most powerful when they have a strong focus and can connect with an audience.

Stephanie Landwehr, 
MOVE Productions

One of my favorite routines is a hip-hop number I saw last year in California. The dance was performed by five or six teenage dancers from Dancing Images in Moreno Valley, CA, and I remember it because it was more like a dance concert piece than a competition routine. The movement was clean and the dancers performed well as a group. Cleanliness is so important because it allows the judges to see the story more easily.

Dancers from Dancing Images in Moreno Valley, CA, perform a hip-hop number at MOVE Productions' Nationals (Photo Courtesy MOVE)

Rolann Owens, Headliners

A dancer named Nikki Mele, from Danceology in Toronto, did a dance called “I Speak Six Languages” this year and it was a true musical theater piece. She didn’t do all the jumps and turns you see in so many numbers and she had a lot of personality. Musical theater dancers can’t just be dancers dancing a role, they need to be actors dancing a role.

Mark Goodman, Hollywood Vibe

I remember a tap routine called “Too Darn Hot” that I saw seven or eight years ago. There were at least 40 dancers in it, and the staging was unbelievable. Best of all, every kid was committed to the style of the piece. These dancers totally captured, understood and embraced the 1940s movie style of dance. Remember, your choreographer will tell you what to dance, but the music will tell you how to dance it.

Sarah Jo Fazio, 
Dance Olympus

I loved a piece called “Mother,” danced by two teenage girls. The story was about a mother and a daughter over a stretch of time. It was done so the dancer playing the daughter behaved like she was a little girl, while the other dancer acted like a mother. By the end the mother was old and dying and the daughter was taking care of the mother. There were no tricks, just movement. I was in tears by the end.

Katy Spreadbury, JUMP

One number stands out in my mind: “Hit Me With a Hot Note,” choreographed by Ray Leeper. It was a great jazz dance rooted in musical theater. The dancers appeared to be having an active experience onstage instead of just doing what they’d done in rehearsal. When you’re watching a performance and it feels like something is happening for the first time, it evokes a genuine emotional reaction.

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