The Olympics are always full of inspiring Cinderella stories, where athletes no one had heard of mere months ago end up blowing all expectations out of the water, and maybe even nabbing a medal in the bargain. But we've recently caught wind of a different kind of Cinderella story—and it's one we really, really hope shows up in the Closing Ceremonies of the PyeongChang Olympics, airing tonight on NBC starting at 8 pm Eastern/5 pm Pacific time.
There are plenty of current Olympic figure skaters who'd make beautiful dancers (first among them Adam Rippon, whose gorgeously choreographed long program won the internet, if not the gold). But today, as we wait for the women's figure skating competition to crown its new champions, we wanted to throw it back to one of the most beautifully balletic skaters of all time: Sasha Cohen.
You and I both know that dancing is the best thing since chocolate chip cookies! But its always nice when dance gets the recognition it deserves from non–dance-world peeps. That's why we did our own happy dance when we saw Shape magazine's article on how dancing can actually make you a better athlete.
To say we're pumped for the Winter Olympics is a definite understatement. We love watching cold-weather sports like bobsledding (Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme!), the terrifying-but-exhilarating art of ski jumping, figure skating (perhaps the most dance-centric event) and even more obscure options like curling.
But that's not the say the Olympics aren't lacking in any way.
We're missing the cherry on top, which at one time did exist in the games: the long-forgotten sport of ski ballet, also know as acroski.
We love, love, LOVE figure skaters who completely embrace the dance aspect of the sport, putting real time and thought into their choreography and music choices (while also, you know, casually pulling off death-defying jumps). This Olympics, a lot of attention has (rightly) been focused on frontrunner Nathan Chen, whose ballet background lends him a beautiful grace and fluidity on the ice. But it was Chen's teammate Adam Rippon who stole our dance-loving hearts yesterday, making his Olympic debut with a routine choreographed by none other than "So You Think You Can Dance" alum Benji Schwimmer.
Friends: HE. SLAYED. And because Rippon is the first openly gay U.S. man to qualify for any Winter Olympics—ever—the performance marked a major milestone.
One of the United States' top hopes for medaling at the Olympics this month has a secret weapon: a serious ballet background.
Figure skating champion Nathan Chen spent six years training at Ballet West as a kid. "The technique there was impeccable," the 18-year-old said in a media teleconference last week. "To have had that at a young age, it definitely helps a lot. I know where to put my arms, how to create the line, how to dance to music."
TV commentators often remark on his artistry, while dance lovers adore his elegant port de bras, épaulement and arabesque line.
Have you ever desperately wanted to do your competition solo to that music? You know, the song that gives you goosebumps in the best way possible, sends your dancer's heart soaring—and for those same reasons is pretty much guaranteed to be used by a million other comp kids? 3-time US national champion figure skater Ashley Wagner knows that feel—and she's choosing to perform to music from "La La Land"—the danciest movie musical in a long time—anyway.
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)