It's easy to forget how lucky we are to pursue dance at all, let alone in the beautifully equipped studios that many of us call home. But for many aspiring dancers around the world—especially in communities plagued by violence—resources are few and far between.
As the Rio Olympics wind down, we've had plenty of time to be awed by the amazing feats of athletic prowess, and the sacrifices and struggles of each competitor. But throughout Rio, there are people waging a daily struggle against poverty and many of them hope to accomplish amazing things themselves.
Meet the dancers of Na Ponta dos Pes, or "On Tiptoe." These girls are from the Complexo de Alemão favela, one of the neighborhoods in Rio that's often riddled with violence. Rather than living in fear, former rhythmic gymnast Tuany Nascimento started the "On Tiptoe" program, and now teaches ballet classes to her tiny dancers on a basketball court. Nascimento has even bigger dreams, hoping to one day open a community center in the neighborhood.
Check out some of the photos by Brazilian photographer Sebastian Gil Miranda, who has frequently photographed Nascimento's class:
(Photo by Sebastian Gil Miranda)
(Photo by Sebastian Gil Miranda)
They're here! They're here! The Olympics are FINALLY HERE!
OK, yes, fine, the Sochi Games officially started yesterday. But tonight we'll get to see the splendiferous opening ceremony. And that makes it all so much more official.
The ceremony is also an opportunity for some pretty serious dancing. (NBC: Let's actually air the dancing this time, OK? Nobody wants a repeat of the London dance debacle.) And the choreographic mastermind behind tonight's sure-to-be-showstopping spectacle is actually a familiar face: Broadway's Daniel Ezralow, best known for his work on Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
Ezralow strikes a pose in Sochi (photo via thewrap.com)
Ezralow told People that he'll be using about 80 professional dancers and hundreds of volunteers to create a performance about "20th-century Russia." Here's the interesting thing: Though his grandfather fled Russia in 1905, Ezralow is pretty far removed from the country these days—he lives in L.A. So we're curious to see what kind of cultural-fusion choreography he's come up with. (We're picturing Bolshoi ballerinas flying through the air, Spider-Man-style...which actually sounds kind of awesome, right?)
Tune in to NBC tonight at 7:30 to see the show!
Congratulations to Gabby Douglas! Watching the amazing "flying squirrel" win Olympic gold in the women's all-around gymnastics competition yesterday was an incredible thrill—especially since Gabby, with her megawatt smile, is such an easy person to root for. (Congrats are also in order for teammate Aly Raisman, whose solid performance brought her this close to the bronze.)
But I'd like to pay tribute, for just a moment, to yesterday's silver medalist: Russian phenom Viktoria Komova. Why? Because in ballet terms—and let's be honest, I evaluate everything in ballet terms—she's gorgeous. Her hyper-extended legs, archy feet, and crazy flexibility make everything she does, from the uneven bars to the vault, look beautifully polished. There's also an inherent grace to the way she carries her upper body.
Though Viktoria's obviously had, like most gymnasts, lots of ballet training, looking like a ballerina wasn't exactly her first priority yesterday. (When you have to do a backflip on a 4-inch beam, sometimes grace goes by the wayside.) But her raw physical gifts are just so extraordinary that I want to slap pointe shoes on her and teach her Swan Lake.
For your bunhead pleasure, here are a bunch of photos of Komova at her most balletic. Enjoy!
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The 2016 Rio Olympic Games officially came to an end last night, but the super-fun closing ceremonies sent them off in style. The best part? Despite the pouring rain (Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium is open-air, leaving everyone exposed to the elements), the night was essentially a massive Carnival-samba party. The entire stadium (athletes and all) danced the night away and celebrated until the early hours of the morning.
(Photo by David Ramos/Getty via NPR)
In case you missed it, here are a few of our favorite moments:
Grupo Corpo's Performance
We LOVED seeing one of Brazil's leading contemporary troupes highlighted on the world stage. The company's style is a mix of their own Afro-Brazilian genre with other familiar contemporary styles. The group performed part of its show Parabelo and the piece led to more dancers dressed as clay dolls, common in the Northeastern region of Brazil. The segment highlighted clay's history as one of mankind's earliest tools and sources of creation.
Grupo Corpo's dancers (Photo by Reuters via The Telegraph)
The clay doll dancers that were part of Grupo Corpo's performance. (Photo by Reuters via The Telegraph)
The Dancing Parrots
The Twitterverse promptly lost its mind over the dancing parrots running around the arena at the beginning of the ceremony. The parrot dancers were apparently creating formations of some of Brazil's most iconic landmarks, but the images were kinda (OK, very) unrecognizable, prompting memes and jokes galore online. But we must say, their colorful, flowing costumes were still dazzling to watch.
Rio's dancing parrots (Photo by Getty via The Telegraph)
(Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images via Bustle)
Japan's Super-Cool, Show-Stealing Appearance
Uh, Japan kinda stole the spotlight here, guys. Their segment made us REALLY excited for the next summer games in Tokyo in 2020. Their piece and dancing had an awesome futuristic vibe and we're pretty sure it's safe to assume Tokyo's ceremonies will be sleek, technology-driven and will feature dancing that's seriously on point. #RiotoTokyo
(Photo by Getty via Yahoo! Sports)
Great Britain's Light-Up Shoes
The U.K.'s athletes came to this dance party prepared. The team donned the coolest light-up sneakers, which they later wore on their hands to further get into the festive spirit. I mean, how great would these be in a hip-hop piece? We're gonna need some ASAP.
— Helen Glover (@Helenglovergb) August 22, 2016
Simone Bile's Selfie Game
You know you're a queen when you can't go more than two seconds without other athletes/fans stopping you and asking for a selfie. Biles killed it at these games, straight through to the closing ceremonies where she was chosen as Team USA's official flag bearer.
— Jared Ward (@jwardy21) August 22, 2016
— NBC New York (@NBCNewYork) August 22, 2016
And last but not least...
After the official ceremony was over the arena erupted into a giant Carnival and samba dance party. In true Brazilian form, the costumes were sparkly and colorful, the music was upbeat, the athletes were breaking out some stellar dance moves and the energy was palpable all the way back to where we were watching in the States. Rio, you were one for the books.
(Photo by AFP via The Telegraph)
(Photo by Getty via Yahoo! Sports)
Yesterday, we said goodbye to what was perhaps the most dance-tastic Olympics of all time. And just like the somewhat cute (and somewhat creepy) Sochi Bear, we feel like shedding a single tear:
Mmk, we're done moping, we promise. Now let's talk about last night's closing ceremony. Just like the ceremony that opened the games, this event did not disappoint on the dance front.
We got more beautiful performances by Bolshoi and Mariinsky dancers:
(Photo by Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY)
As pretty as a painting. It almost looks like a Degas, doesn't it? (Photo by Richard Mackson/USA TODAY)
Those costumes... Can we be her please? (photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)
We got some aeriel dance (from helium-filled clouds, naturally...):
Pretty psychedelic, huh? (photo by Jeffrey Swinger/USA TODAY)
And we got some circus performers:
OK, so it's not technically dance, but we're counting it—because we can. (Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)
But the most talked-about moment of Sochi's closing ceremonies involved a touch of dance humor. You see, during Sochi's opening ceremony, there was a technical difficulty. Five snowflakes that were supposed to explode into the five Olympic rings ended up looking like this:
The little snowflake that couldn't... (Photo by Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY)
But instead of hoping that everyone would forget about the mishap, Sochi's creative director Konstantine Ernst made sure everyone remembered, enlisting the help of 700 very sparkly dancers to recreate the incomplete Olympic ring formation:
(Photo by Richard Mackson/USA TODAY)
But then, in an act of glorious redemption, the fifth ring swirled open! (Click here to watch a clip of the big moment.)
(Photo by Gregorio Borgia/AP)
Kudos, Russia. That was pretty darn funny.
Fingers crossed that the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics will bring us just as much (if not more) dance. Gangnam Style, anyone?? We can dream.
What do Kristi Yamaguchi and Evan Lysacek have in common?
Let's see: They're both American figure skaters. They've both won an Olympic gold medal for their performance in singles (Yamaguchi in 1992 and Lysacek in 2010). They're both currently enjoying a pressure-free visit to Sochi...
Oh, and they both beasted "Dancing with the Stars." Yamaguchi took home the coveted mirror ball trophy in Season 6, while Lysacek placed second to Nicole Scherzinger (he was robbed!) in Season 10.
Kristi Yamaguchi and her partner Mark Ballas (photo by Kristy McNeal/ABC)
Evan Lysacek and his partner Anna Trebunskaya (photo by Adam Larkey/ABC)
But “DWTS” isn’t only for the figure skaters. Speed skater Apolo Ohno snagged the Season 4 trophy and gymnast Shawn Johnson won Season 8. (And there are over a dozen other Olympians who have made their way to the “DWTS” stage.)
This week, Entertainment Tonight caught up with Yamaguchi and Lysacek in Sochi to ask them the big question: Who will be the next “DWTS” Olympians?
Here’s what they had to say:
Which Olympian would you like to see on the "DWTS" stage?
You've just finished a performance that you're extremely proud of—a Nationals-winning solo, your senior recital, your first time dancing Sugar Plum Fairy, etc. You can't wait to get your hands on the performance photos, to see just how stellar you looked. But then, when you finally get them, they end up looking something like this:
(via Rage Comics)
We've all been there.
No matter how graceful we look while we're dancing, these faces always seem to sneak their way in—during a powerful jump, a dramatic fall to the floor, a heavy lift, a difficult turn combo...you name it.
The same is true for ice dancers and skaters. And thanks to some witty photographers, the talented athletes of Sochi 2014 have had to face their faces head on (get it?). Take a look at some of the damage:
Israel's Alexei Bychenko (photo via AP)
Canada's Kevin Reynolds (photo via Canadian Press/REX)
Japan's Mao Asada (photo via EPA)
Belgium's Jorik Hendrickx (photo via ZUMA/REX)
The Ukraine's Yakov Godorozha (photo via ZUMA/REX)
Italy's Stafania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek (photo via AP)
Japan's Narumi Takahasi and Kihara Ryuichi (photo via Getty Images)
U.S.A.'s Jeremy Abbott (photo via ZUMA/REX)
Well, ice dancers and skaters, we get the struggle. Ask us to do something superhuman, and we'll look...well...superhuman at times. Right? Keep on doin' your thang.
We are obviously partial to any Olympic sport with "dance" in its name—which means we're always eager to watch ice dancing.
First of all, ice dancers are beautiful movers and performers, which, yay. And despite the extreme difficulty of what they do, the fact that they don't have to include any oh-my-god-please-don't-die throws and jumps makes watching them simply enjoyable, rather than nerve racking. In an Olympic field stocked with sports that continually have us on the edge of our seats, it's nice to watch something that might actually be good for our blood pressure.
During the skating team competition earlier this week, awesome American ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White showed off a short program set to music from My Fair Lady. We realized, about halfway through it, that we were loving the easy, graceful flow of the choreography almost as much as the dynamic duo's brilliant performance—we were watching it the way we'd watch a dance onstage.
Well, now that all makes sense: It turns out the routine was choreographed by none other than Derek Hough. How cool is that? Apparently Davis and White contacted him through their friend Kristi Yamaguchi, the Olympic gold medal-winning ice skater who also won season 6 of "Dancing with the Stars" with Hough's buddy Mark Ballas.
Davis and White will perform Hough's My Fair Lady routine again (as part of the regular, non-team ice dancing competition) this Sunday—tune into NBC at 7 pm to see them in action. For a sneak peek, here they are competing the same number earlier this year at the US National Championships.
We're not sure how you wish ice dancers good luck, so, just to be safe: Merde! Break a leg! Skate the pants off this thing!