The Worst Advice I've Ever Received
Keltie Colleen (courtesy Keltie Colleen)
Dancers receive many pearls of wisdom over the course of their careers—but sometimes they also get some less-than-awesome advice. We asked eight dancers to spill about the worst tips they’ve ever been given.
Keltie Colleen, commercial dancer
When I was dancing for an NBA basketball team, I booked an Apple iPod commercial that conflicted with the team’s schedule. I was torn: Should I risk jeopardizing my steady job and do the commercial, or should I be a team player and pass on a huge opportunity? Someone advised me to turn down the commercial, and I did. But I’ve always wished I tried harder to work it out with the team. In show business, you have to seize your opportunities as they come. Someone will always be there to take your spot, and there was another perky blonde who took mine in the iPod commercial!
Jenny LaRoche (by Bobby Aruajo)
Jenny LaRoche, “Smash” dancer
It’s easy to lose yourself in this industry. I’ve been told by teachers to dye my hair and wear bright colors so I’ll get noticed in auditions. But you can look the part you want to be hired for without altering yourself. Just amplify your own assets. Now I know to show up to an audition with a fresh face and clean hair.
Ray Hesselink (by Jen Nishino)
Ray Hesselink, tap dancer and teacher
I often hear people say, “Being a dancer is too competitive—you’ll never make a living.” Don’t let fear stop you from doing what you love. Yes, dance is a business. But follow your instincts in forming relationships with teachers, mentors and friends who believe in you and make you feel good about your talent and commitment to your goals.
Lauren Fadeley and Ian Hussey in Giselle (by Alexander Iziliaev)
Lauren Fadeley, Pennsylvania Ballet principal (and Indiana University alum)
The worst advice I received was not to go to college. There’s a misconception that the only time to dance is when you’re young. But I wasn’t ready to be a professional at 16. Going to college was the best path for me, because it let me grow and work on my technique. If I hadn’t taken the time to go to college, I would be burnt out by now.
Rebecca King in The Nutcracker (by Leigh-Ann Esty)
Rebecca King, Miami City Ballet dancer
When I was a teenager, a teacher discouraged me from pursuing ballet, saying I would probably never become a professional ballet dancer. I had started at a new dance school, and I was quite behind my peers. But thanks to other wonderful teachers and mentors along the way, I found myself onstage with Miami City Ballet after high school. One person’s judgment isn’t the opinion of everyone in the dance world. Ballet is a subjective art form, which is what makes it so special.
Lacey Schwimmer on "Dancing with the Stars" (by Adam Taylor/ABC)
Lacey Schwimmer, “Dancing with the Stars” pro
The worst advice I ever got was to lose weight or change my body because I “didn’t look like a dancer.” The dancer comes from within. Be wary of pressure to lose weight.
Jon Bond (by Nathan Sayers)
Jon Bond, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet dancer
When I first decided to join Cedar Lake, I had a mentor who didn’t think it was a wise choice. He felt I wouldn’t grow there because at the time Cedar Lake was not the premier company it is now. Against his guidance, I followed my gut and took the opportunity. Six seasons later, I’m still happy I did!
James Whiteside in Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes (by Gene Schiavone)
James Whiteside, American Ballet Theatre soloist
When I got into the corps in Boston Ballet at age 19, a friend told me that if I wanted to be taken seriously in the company, I would have to stop being friendly with the apprentices. That advice taught me exactly how not to behave. Treat every dancer with respect, and you will be respected in turn.
Get in, losers. We're going to Broadway.
OK, not losers, actually—more like the bajillion die-hard fans of Tina Fey's 2004 cult hit Mean Girls, who've been wearing pink every Wednesday since a musical adaptation of the film was first teased back in 2013.
Now their world is like a cake filled with rainbows and smiles, because Mean Girls the musical, which had a trial run in Washington, DC, last fall, is set to open at Broadway's August Wilson Theatre April 8. And in a very grool twist, it turns out the show—with direction and choreography by Casey Nicholaw and a book by Fey herself—is delightfully dancey.
Principal Lloyd Knight has become a true standout in the Martha Graham Dance Company thanks to his compelling presence and dynamic technique. Knight, who performs leading roles in iconic pieces like Appalachian Spring and Embattled Garden, was born in England and raised in Miami, where he trained at the Miami Conservatory and later graduated from New World School of the Arts. He received scholarships to The Ailey School and The Dance Theatre of Harlem School in NYC and joined MGDC in 2005. Catch him onstage with MGDC during its New York City Center season this month. —Courtney Bowers
They say there's no "I" in "team"—and nowhere is that truer than the world of college dance teams, where precision reigns, uniformity is key, and a single misstep from any given "I" can cost a group a championship trophy. So it's unsurprising that securing a spot on one of the best dance teams in the country is no easy feat.
Members of these highly athletic teams rehearse for hours every week—on top of academic classes and commitments—and perform at football and basketball games, annual concerts, and nationally televised competitions (hi, ESPN). And "no I" rule notwithstanding, each of these top teams is made up of highly trained, highly technical, highly hard-core individuals, who come together to create a ready-for-victory pack.
These six teams aren't one-off success stories—they're consistently strong, and earn the top spots at major competitions like UDA and NDA nearly every year. Up for the challenge? Here's what to know before you go to auditions.
Today in Ballet Dancers Are Actual Superheroes news:
You've no doubt heard that the fabulous Alicia Vikander is playing Lara Croft in the newest iteration of Tomb Raider, which hits movie theaters this Friday. But while her training for the high-octane action role was crazy tough, she says, studying at the Royal Swedish Ballet School was far tougher.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email email@example.com for a chance to be featured!
I'm a hip-hop and jazz dancer, and I want to get involved in the commercial-dance world. I've never studied ballet, but people keep telling me I "have to" take ballet classes if I want to make it professionally. Is that really true? My family has limited money for dance classes, and I have to be careful about how I spend it.
Everyone loves a good viral video, especially when there's dancing involved. And though many viral videos are contrived and created for the soul purpose of instafame, the story behind the latest video catching the eyes of millions—including Rihanna, super model Naomi Campbell, and Diddy—is even more unique because it features children who don't even know who those celebrities are.
A dance troupe in Nigeria has become the next internet sensation, thanks to their exuberant dancing and passion with which they perform. Their enthusiasm for dance is evident in every step and it's hard not to smile as you see these children (who range from ages 6 to 15) express pure joy in something as simple as dance. These nine kids are part of The Dream Catchers, an organization started by 26-year-old Seyi Oluyole, that gives impoverished children a place to live while teaching them how to dance.
For 16-year-old Amanda*, dance is everything: her passion, her escape from the daily grind, and her career goal. Her parents see things differently. "I have siblings who are active in sports," Amanda says, "and my parents would rather I play soccer or basketball. They don't see dance as something I can earn a stable living from in the future. They often tell me I should just quit."
Some parents aren't able to, don't know how to, or choose not to give you the kind of support you need to thrive in the studio. And when your parents are adding stress to your life, rather than alleviating it, there's a lot at stake. "Dancers who don't have the support of their parents might struggle with self-doubt," says Dr. Linda Hamilton, a former dancer with New York City Ballet and a clinical psychologist specializing in the performing arts, "while those whose parents are too involved can crack under the pressure." Whether your parents aren't there when you need them or they're always there, practically smothering you, try these tips to improve your situation.
On Friday night, the iconic RuPaul made history as the first drag queen ever to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And it didn't take long for the world's most fabulous RuPaul fan/one of our favorite human beings, Mark Kanemura, to commemorate his idol's accomplishment with—naturally—a WALK to end all walks.