"I had a unique path to dance," says Nardia Boodoo, a luminous, elegant apprentice with The Washington Ballet. She briefly studied ballet as a child, but didn't start serious training until she was 14 years old, attending Baltimore School for the Arts. "I didn't know what a pirouette was," she says. "I would wake up really early to stretch and remember my corrections." But, a focused student, she advanced quickly: Soon she was attending prestigious summer intensives, and she earned a spot in The Washington Ballet Studio Company in 2014. Now, Boodoo is working with her childhood idol, TWB artistic director Julie Kent, and dreams of someday dancing the title role in Giselle.
Boodoo is acutely aware of the power of representation. "It has only recently become OK to have a Misty Copeland," she says. "It's no longer socially acceptable to only have girls who look exactly the same, in any aspect of entertainment. But at the same time it feels like a trend, and I'm not a trend, I'm a human being." Boodoo wants to see genuine diversity, from top to bottom. "You need teachers and directors, ballet masters and répétiteurs," she says. "Diversity on every single level is progress."
You probably know Ava Cota as the lovely, leggy dancer who was rejected from the Abby Lee Dance Company, on "Dance Moms," because she was "too tall." Now, that lanky frame is propelling her career as a model. Ava just made her New York Fashion Week runway debut, and we're guessing it won't be the last time the six-foot beauty graces NYC's catwalks.
Here at DS HQ, we're more than ready to be kicking off a new month (please please please tell us that March is going to finally bring us some warmer temperatures and pretty flowers...please?) and, fittingly, a brand-new issue!
The March issue of Dance Spirit is our annual Ballet Issue, and how lovely is this prima-in-the-making on the cover?
A little backstory...
I have been obsessed with Juliet Doherty for years. I saw her perform the role of Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and I fell hard for her gorgeous facility, sweet smile and perky onstage personality. At the time, Juliet was a competition dancer training at Fishback Studio of the Dance—her great-grandmother's studio—in her hometown of Albuquerque, NM. Now, at 16, Juliet's making big moves toward a serious ballet career: She's currently a level-seven student at the San Francisco Ballet School and she's performed as Clara in San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker. Earlier this year she competed at the Prix de Lausanne in Switzerland. And let's not forget—she's a ballerina named Juliet. It's perfect.
We are so excited to feature Juliet on the cover of this issue. Not only is she a stunning dancer (as you can see from the cover—can this girl take a beautiful picture or what?), she's also super-smart (she was asked to give an inspirational TEDx Talk in 2012!), ultra-sweet and insanely humble.
Click here to read Juliet's cover story. And, as always, we've got plenty of extras for your viewing enjoyment: click here to check out a ton of outtakes from Juliet's cover shoot in L.A. with photographer Joe Toreno, and then watch a behind-the-scenes video from the shoot.
We love you, Juliet, and we can't wait to see what you do next!
The new issue! Cover shot by Erin Baiano.
The funnest day in the Dance Spirit office every month is "new issue day." Even though we've just wrapped up months of working on a particular issue, it's still crazy exciting when we actually get our copies and get to hold them and gawk at them and bask in their new shininess.
The January 2014 issue arrived the other day and, in accordance with our little tradition, we all squealed and flipped through every page with an insane amount of excitement. This issue is an especially big deal because we've got some major dance celebrities on the cover: Sophia Lucia and Ashi Ross. They may be young and teeny-tiny, but these two girls collectively have hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. They're kind of a big deal.
We got a little peek at why people are so obsessed with Sophia and Ashi during their cover shoot in NYC. Ashi flew in all the way from her home in Australia (crazy!) and Sophia took a cross-country flight from San Diego, where she lives. The two of them hit it off right away, striking cute, fun and silly poses for our photographer, Erin Baiano. They had about a billion outfits and pairs of shoes between the two of them (I was hugely jealous of Sophia's wacky leggings and Ashi's high-waisted shorts that tie in the back) and, best of all, we got to shoot them on the hottest of hot pink backgrounds (a personal dream come true).
Ashi on the left, Sophia on the right, awesome across the board. Photos by Erin Baiano.
As always, there's lots for your viewing and reading enjoyment:
- Click here to read this month's cover story about Sophia, Ashi, Mia Diaz and Hayden Hopkins—four of the most-followed dancers on the internet.
- Click here for an entire album of exclusive outtakes from Ashi and Sophia's photo shoot.
- Click here to watch a behind-the-scenes video from the shoot, and to get social media tips from the girls.
- After you've done all that, click here to let us know what you think about the issue! Maybe we'll print your comment in Dance Spirit.
The January issue is available now online, and will be at your local Barnes & Noble and favorite dance retail stores on December 31.