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.
Have we mentioned lately how much we love dance dads? Especially ones who show up to their daughter's ballet class sporting a tutu, like Thanh Tran.
You've seen it a million times: A glamorous, toned dancer posts a perfectly styled shot of her colorful smoothie bowl. The caption gushes about how great you'll feel if you eat "clean"—but what does that actually mean? DS asked registered dietitian/nutritionist Rachel Fine and holistic health coach (and founder of The Whole Dancer) Jess Spinner for all of the dirt.
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 a chance to be featured!
I'm being bullied by one of the girls at my studio, and it's awful. I've talked to my dance teacher and confronted the bully directly, but it hasn't made a difference. What should I do?
Bunheads, this one's for you. They say you can tell a Nutcracker by its "Snow" scene—and we fully believe it. There are so many versions with extra goodies—olive branches! Fake snow! Sleds! Choirs! Snow queens!—and each brings a special something to the holiday favorite. But do you know which ballet has what?
Consistent turns are a must for aspiring professional dancers, but pretty much everyone struggles with pirouettes at some point. Luckily, since we're all beholden to the same rules of physics, there are concrete steps every dancer can take to reach his or her top turning potential. “Three is the new two when it comes to pirouettes, but the secret to turning is technique, not magic," says Bojan Spassoff, president and director of The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia.
Falling out of your doubles? Aspiring to go revolution for revolution with your class's star turner? No matter where you lie on the turning spectrum, our 360-degree guide to pirouettes will help you improve.
You rehearse your group routine to perfection, but when the big performance rolls around, everyone turns into speed demons. It's the runaway-train effect—and it only takes one loud tapper, or zippy turner, to throw the whole group off the music.
While nerves and excitement are partly to blame, the ability to keep to tempo begins in the studio. A well-developed sense of musicality is your best defense against the dreaded speed trap. "When you understand how the steps fit with the music, going too fast won't just feel like rushing," says Jeremy Arnold, lecturer of tap at the University of Texas at Austin. "It'll feel wrong." How can dancers develop that musicality? It all starts with learning to listen.
You're probably already following your favorite dancers on Instagram, but did you know that you can follow many of their dogs, too? We rounded up some of our favorite dog-centered accounts and hashtags to keep you pawsitively entertained (sorry, we can't help ourselves).
Let's face it—spare time is pretty tough to come by when you're a dancer. You're either rushing to get ready for rehearsal, rushing to rehearsal, a combo of the two, or in rehearsal (or performing, or in class, or at an audition...you get the picture). Well here at DS, we understand the struggle is REAL, which is why we've rounded up our favorite foolproof makeup hacks, approved by resident #LazyGirl when it comes to makeup (spoiler alert: it's me). On to the hacks!
Kalea (pronounced kah-LAY-uh) Hidalgo knows how to move. Her decisive, dynamic dancing commands the stage: She gobbles up space so confidently it's hard to believe you're watching a mere tween. Unsurprisingly, that presence and power have started turning heads in a serious way. Not only did Talia Favia choreograph one of her solos in 2017, but Kalea also recently signed with Bloc Talent Agency in L.A. and, last summer, placed first overall in the junior contemporary solo category at Radix Nationals.
"When you're out on the dance floor, don't ask for permission—ask for forgiveness."—Kalea Hidalgo
Taylor Swift is #blessed in many ways: She's got a great voice, insane song writing skills, and, to quote her new hit single, she's "Gorgeous." She is not, however, blessed in the dance department. But that doesn't stop her from busting out the occasional dance move. In fact, Swift likes to playfully show off her less-than-stellar dancing, be it in her music videos (hello, "Shake It Off") or at music award shows. So we weren't surprised when during the latest episode of her "Making of a Song" series for AT&T, she unveiled a new endearingly awkward maneuver, which she's dubbed the "dolphin body roll"—and it practically had friend and producer Jack Antonoff rolling on the floor!🤣