The Checklist of Champions: Getting Organized Before Nationals
Imagine that you’re standing in the wings at Nationals, ready to rock your tap number. Just as you’re about to step onto the stage, your elbow-length glove slides down to your wrist. Panic sets in as you realize you forgot to bring double-stick tape to secure your gloves, and you won’t be able to keep them in place once you start moving around onstage!
From accessory bloopers to forgotten props, the list of things that can go awry at Nationals isn’t a short one. But, by planning ahead and packing carefully, you can ensure that you’ll have everything you need on competition day. Being prepared is part of being professional, so summon your inner Girl Scout and follow this comprehensive checklist to avoid Nationals nightmares.
Note: Specific needs vary from dancer to dancer, so be sure to check with your teacher to find out what else you should add to this list.
__Makeup and nail polish remover
__Hairbrush and comb
__Bobby pins in various colors and sizes
__False eyelashes and lash glue
__Cotton swabs and facial tissues
__Topical heat rub
__Instant ice packs
__Tampons or pads
__Garment bags or zip-close bags for each costume
__A collapsible costume rack and hangers
__Tights (bring extras!)
__Practice shoes and/or foot thongs
__Warm-up and rehearsal clothing
__Clear nail polish (in case you get a run in your tights)
__Instant stain remover
__Electrolyte-filled fluids like Gatorade, coconut water or Smartwater
__High-energy snacks like sandwiches, veggies, sunflower seeds, almonds and grapes
The Best of the Rest
__Your team jacket or sweats
__Bras and underwear
__Dance bag and laundry bag for already-worn items
__Markers for labeling items
__Camera and iPod
__List of important contact numbers and addresses
__Good-luck charm (if you have one)
Harper Watters is a ballet dancer for today's generation. A social media maestro and a charismatic performer, the Houston Ballet soloist is equally at home in front of the camera hosting his hit YouTube series, "The Pre Show"; interacting with fans on his crazy-popular Instagram account; or showing off his beautiful classical technique onstage. It's a multifaceted identity that's proven to be invaluable to his career—and it's taking him to places he never even dreamed of.
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
The dancers who take our breath away are the risk-takers, the ones who appear completely fearless onstage. "When you see somebody trying to travel more, go farther, push the limits of their physical abilities, that's always going to be inspiring," says Ballet BC dancer Alexis Fletcher.
But dance training can feel like it's in conflict with that idea. We spend thousands of hours in the studio trying to do steps perfectly, and that pursuit of perfection can make us anxious about taking risks. What if we fail? What if we fall?
Luckily, fearlessness is a mental skill that you can work on, just as you work on your technique. Here's how you can learn to push yourself past your limits.
When we think of a dancer who's broken barriers, American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland tends to be the name that comes to mind. And though Copeland has been a crucial advocate for equality in the world of ballet, Raven Wilkinson—a mentor of Copeland's—is considered one of the original pioneers of the movement.
In 1955, Wilkinson became the first African American to dance with the renowned Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Her fortitude in the face of bigotry and hate cemented her legacy. Now, with the release of the new children's book Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, a new generation of dancers will be inspired by her tale of overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream.
The book details Wilkinson's life, from her experience as a young dancer training in Harlem, to her run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan while on tour with Ballet Russe, to her later ballet career in Europe. "There were times where my heart really hurt because of the situations I had to deal with," she says. "But I always had faith that I was made to be a dancer and that I was gonna dance."
Dance Spirit spoke with Wilkinson to discuss the new book and get her take on racial equality within the ballet world.
Postmodern pioneer Trisha Brown redefined how dance is seen and felt. A founding member of Judson Dance Theater, Brown frequently collaborated with other experimental artists like Yvonne Rainer, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, and Steve Paxton.
She embraced pedestrian movement, pairing everyday gesture with rhythm and fluidity. "It's liquid," says Wendy Perron, who danced with Brown in the '60s and '70s. "Like a river with many tributaries, water coming out of a faucet, or being on a raft and seeing the water move away in different directions." Brown also pushed beyond stages with choreography in fields, museums—even on the sides of buildings.
There's a common misconception that a dancer's body has to be thin. But the truth is that talent knows no body type, and the number on the scale never determines an artist's capabilities. Here are some extraordinary dancers fighting the stereotype of what a dancer "should" look like.