Dance News

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.

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Dancer to Dancer

With her long limbs and delicate features, Ella Titus could pass as a model—and she has actually posed for fashion photographers on her days off from Miami City Ballet, where she's in the corps. But Titus also sets fashion trends: For several years now, she has designed and hand-knit her own line of legwarmers, Ella Warmers. Read on for her tips on achieving that pastel-pretty ballerina look.

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Watch This

We've been captivated by former cover star Michaela DePrince since her teenage days, when she was starring in First Position and turning heads at The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre. (She was featured in our You Should Know column way back in 2012!).

These days, she's all grown up and shining at the Dutch National Ballet.

She's also been doing super-stunning collabs with major brands, NBD. Case in point: the vid below, which features DePrince dancing in some seriously cool Air VaporMax Nikes in a commercial shot for Vogue Nederland.

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Dance News

Venus and Serena Williams, aka the coolest sisters in tennis, are world champions on the court, but their dance skills are equally amazing. Case in point? The Williams Invitational, which they've now hosted for seven straight years. It's a private tournament consisting of ping-pong, dodgeball, tennis and—you guessed it—a dance-off.

Vogue got the inside scoop with their behind-the-scenes video, where we see a fiercely competitive Serena waiting for the rest of her (already late) team to show up for rehearsal (we feel you). After all, it is a competition. Of the Williams Invitational's origins, Serena says, "It started out as a friends and family thing. And then it got overboard serious, and then it got Broadway." They've got judges, a stage, some pretty intense lighting situations and medals—it's like Nationals, Williams sisters-style. And as we see Serena spinning at lighting speed on a suspended hoop (no, seriously), she says, "I just love dancing. It makes me so happy, and I didn't know how much I loved it until I started this journey." Same, girl, #same. Check out the entire video below!

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Dance News

It seems like every other day, another fab Willdabeast or Janelle Ginestra project hits the internet. And every other day, we fall in love with the choreographic geniuses all over again.

The latest project to stoke our WilldaNestra obsession? A New York Fashion Week video the duo choreographed for Vogue. It's an awesomely fun backstage dance party featuring Korean pop star CL, celebrating the close of NYFW.

The vid's a whirlwind mash-up of amazing dancers (including former PULSE Elite Protégé Elyssa Cueto, vogueing icon Javier Ninja, and our April 2015 Cover Model Search Editors' Choice winner Kerrynton Jones) and strutting modelsall sporting the trendiest of outfits, naturally. It's the stuff that dance/fashion dreams are made of. Plus, videographer/director Tim Milgram was involved, so it's no wonder the finished product is pure #perfection.

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Dance News

Sooooo we want to be best friends with Serena Williams.

For many, many reasons. I mean, yes, it would be amazing to have a world-champion tennis player in our posse. We'd obviously love to hear her workout tips, because that body is a work of ART. But mostly she just seems like a lot of fun. And apparently she's also kind of a fantastic dancer?

Let's back up for a second. The reason we and the rest of the world are swooning over Williams right now is because she's featured on Vogue's April 2015 cover. It's a gorgeous image, of course, but it's a also a really big deal—she's the first black female athlete to appear solo on the cover.

Here's the cover. In case you didn't believe us when we said it was gorge.

And how did Williams celebrate? By making a music video to Beyoncé's "7/11." You know, as one does, when one is the Beyoncé of tennis.

The result is funny and silly and full of pretty legit dancing. (Those pirouettes at :48 though!) And of all the "7/11" choreography we've seen, it makes by far the best use of the lyrics "smack it in the air." TENNIS!

Now excuse us while we daydream about a sunshiney unicorn rainbow world in which Beyoncé, Williams and little Heaven from "Ellen" all dance to this song together.

Dance News

It's Super Bowl Sunday! Are you rooting for the New England Patriots or the Seattle Sea Hawks? I'm still hoping that the Pittsburgh Steelers make a miraculous comeback, but I'm pretty sure that's not how football works...

Before I embarrass myself with anymore football talk (Aren't the Sea Hawks' costumes pretty?! Can't wait until Katy Perry performs at intermission!), I'm gonna go ahead and bring the convo back to dance.

Dancers, like football players, are incredible athletes. But you already know that. A couple of weeks ago, Vogue.com spotlighted two dancers as a part of their "Year of No Excuses" campaign: Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet's Madeline Wong and voguer/choreographer Danielle Polanco. They also featured a triathlete (Katie Botini) and a yogi (Briohny Smyth), whose bodies are equally incredible. Check it out!

P.S. Wondering where you've seen Madeline Wong before? Turn to p. 46 in your February 2015 issue of DS to see Ms. Wong rocking her best audition look!

 

Dance News

Jasmine Perry with Alec and Victor of "Strictly Ballet"
Photo Will Davidson/Teen Vogue

You already know just how much we love it when the fashion world enters ours (excluding the recent Free People, um, snafu). So it’s no surprise that we’re ecstatic about Teen Vogue’s newest venture: a web series (premiering today!) following six students at the School of American Ballet. Also awesome? The show lets us catch up with Jasmine Perry, who, since making her debut on "Dance212," has shed her braces and continued to develop into an utterly gorgeous dancer.

Strictly Ballet” is an online companion to Teen Vogue’s print feature, “Rhythm Nation,” which highlights some of the freshest faces in dance today (including Lil Buck)—all of them dressed to the nines, naturally. Hopefully this dance-in-the-mainstream streak continues. And it just might: Turns out dancers have an unexpected advocate in Teen Vogue editor in chief Amy Astley, who's responsible for the magazine's latest foray into the world of intense ballet training. As a teen, she was a bunhead herself, studying at the Joffrey Ballet in NYC and at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet's summer program. Dance Spirit caught up with Astley to get the inside scoop on “Strictly Ballet.” (You can watch the extended trailer and first episode below!)

SAB student Emily wears a Rebecca Taylor dress.
Photo Will Davidson/Teen Vogue

Dance Spirit: Why did you want to make “Strictly Ballet”?

Amy Astley: I’ve been asking myself what I can give back to ballet, since I got so much from it. And I thought that the best thing I can do is promote it.

Ballet dancers should get a lot more attention in pop culture than they get. They’re so beautiful! And I find dancers to be insanely grateful. Their humility is refreshing.

DS: What did your ballet training teach you that you still use today?

AA: In ballet, you can never say “I can’t.” You have to work through everything, so you learn how to do your best even when you’re extremely challenged. I say this to my kids and to the people I work with. The moment I find myself thinking I can’t, I’m like, “Wait a second. You can! What’s wrong, what’s the problem, and how can I work through it?”

DS: What’s your goal for the series?

AA: I really hope that people—who aren't necessarily all bunheads—will get engaged with this series. I’ve definitely spent enough time in my life watching movies about baseball, and I don’t know much about that sport. I think ballet should be the same way: It should be fascinating on its own, even to people who don’t know a lot about it.

(Watch the extended trailer for "Strictly Ballet" above.)

DS: How will “Strictly Ballet” be different from AOL's “city.ballet.” or The CW’s “Breaking Pointe”?

AA: I didn’t want a reality show that dug into the super-personal aspects of the dancers' lives. It’s just meant to celebrate the kids as aspiring artists, and highlight their extreme dedication and talent. It’s amazing to be interviewing kids who are 14 and 17 who know exactly what they want to do.

(L to R) Victor and Alec of "Strictly Ballet"
Photo Will Davidson/Teen Vogue

DS: As a ballet fan, what has been your favorite part about this process?

AA: I got to meet Peter Martins, which was such a great thrill since I grew up watching him dance with Suzanne Farrell. Peter Martins was one of my all-time favorite dancers, along with Suzanne, Natalia Makarova, and Baryshnikov, of course.

SAB's Mimi wears a Louis Vuitton jacket and headdress in Teen Vogue.
Photo Will Davidson/Teen Vogue

DS: In your editor’s note this month, you write that you quit ballet at 18. How did you make that decision?

AA: During my summers at CPYB, I saw what the talent was like out there since I was dancing with girls from NYC and SAB. I was in their level, but I was never really as good—I was sort of at the bottom of the top. I didn’t have what it took to be in the companies I wanted to join, and the regional ballet scene wasn’t as strong then as it is now. It was an extremely hard time for me. I had barely even applied to colleges. I did end up going to school back in Michigan, but I can relate to students who aren’t sure if they’re ready for professional life, as well as to those who aren’t sure if they even want it.

DS: Knowing what you know now, what would you tell those dancers?

AA: Whatever you decide, remember that studying your art has been time well spent. You get so much from those years. And keep dancing if you love it. Whether you’re studying modern, tap, jazz or ballet, the training is great for your brain and your body. You’ll probably grow up to be one of the people supporting the arts and keeping ballet companies alive—I go to the ballet very regularly, to see both NYCB and American Ballet Theatre. I just love it. I never got ballet out of my system.

 

Watch the first episode here:

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