You Talk, We'll Listen
Summer's winding down and while you prepare to head back to school and the studio, we're busy gearing up for the 2014 issues of Dance Spirit. But before we decide who will grace next year's pages (and covers!), we want to hear about the dancers and choreographers you're loving right now.
To get you started, we've shared who we're currently obsessing over:
After a summer spent at Nationals, I'm all about the comp kids right now. No matter how crowded the stage, my eyes were glued to Jayci Kalb of The Dance Centre in Tuscaloosa, AL, and Rachel Parkinson from The Dance Club in Orem, UT. On the professional side, I can't get enough of Chantel Aguirre. That girl personifies the meaning of "stunning." Oh and Misha Gabriel. He moves, and I swoon. —Alison Feller, editor in chief
I recently sat in on a rehearsal for Alexander Ekman's Episodes 31 at Joffrey Ballet, which rekindled my love for his high-energy, kooky choreography. (This piece was originally choreographed on The Juilliard School's class of 2012—and they all wore stick-on mustaches!) In terms of dancers, I will now and forever say Ryan Steele. I could watch him in Matilda the Musical a million times and never get bored. —Rachel Zar, managing editor
Tiler Peck and Justin Peck.
I'm a New York City Ballet girl through and through, and right now I'm obsessed with the company's two (unrelated) Pecks: principal Tiler Peck and soloist/choreographer Justin Peck. Not that either of them are all that new to the scene, but have you seen what they've been up to recently? In addition to being a gorgeously musical ballerina, Tiler held her own with jookin' star Lil Buck at the Vail International Dance Festival last weekend. And Justin's kinetically geometric, corps-centric ballets have been wonderful showcases for some of NYCB's most exciting young dancers. —Margaret Fuhrer, associate editor
Every time I open a New York City Ballet program and see the name Lauren Lovette, I get giddy with excitement. Lauren was featured on the September 2010 cover of DS when she was just a NYCB apprentice, and I remember thinking she was so sweet, down-to-earth and drop-dead gorgeous at her shoot. Now a soloist, I can't take my eyes off her whenever she's onstage. She has stunning technique and an almost addictive performance quality—I just can't stop watching her. —Michael Anne Bailey, assistant editor
Right now, I am obsessed with Christopher Wheeldon. His choreography is incredibly musical and romantic, and he creates shapes out of his dancers that I've never, ever seen before. Oh yeah, and his Carousel (A Dance) is set to my most favorite music of all time: "The Carousel Waltz"! —Helen Hope Rolfe, DS intern
Now it's your turn. Tell us which dancers and choreographers you're currently loving in the comments section below. You may just see them in DS!
Much of Janelle Ginestra's career has been about helping others shine. She's dedicated herself to supporting and cheerleading her partner, WilldaBeast Adams; the emerging talents in their dance company, ImmaBEAST; and the countless dancers she inspires at master classes and conventions. Her YouTube channel has become a launching pad for young talents like "Fraternal Twins" Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala, thanks to viral videos featuring Ginestra's creative vision.
But Ginestra's a skyrocketing success in her own right—an in-demand choreographer, a social media influencer, and a dance entrepreneur, building a legacy one eight-count at a time. It's time for her turn in the spotlight. And she's more than ready. "I want to be a legend in whatever I do," she says. We'd argue that she already is.
Daphne Lee is a queen, and not just in the "OMG Girl Boss Alert" sense of the word. She's an actual queen—a beauty queen. Crowned Miss Black USA in August, she's been doing double duty as she continues to dance with the Memphis based dance company, Collage Dance Collective. Lee's new title has given her the means to encourage other black girls and boys to pursue their dreams, while also pursuing dreams of her own. The scholarship money awarded with the pageant title will assist her as she earns a Masters of Fine Arts degree at Hollins University.
When a choreographer finds a composer whose music truly inspires her, it can feel like a match made in dance heaven. Some choreographers work with the same composers so frequently that they become known for their partnerships. New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck, for example, has tapped composer Sufjan Stevens numerous times (last spring, the two premiered The Decalogue at NYCB, to rave reviews); L.A. Dance Project's Benjamin Millepied's working relationship with composer Nico Muhly has spanned a decade and two continents; and when tap dancer Michelle Dorrance premiered the first-ever Works & Process Rotunda Project, a site-specific work for New York City's Guggenheim Museum, last year, percussionist Nicholas Van Young was by her side as an equal partner. Successful collaborations require compatibility between artists, direct and honest communication, and flexible, open minds. But when the stars align, working with a composer can be extremely rewarding.
For ballerinas, it's the dream role to end all dream roles: Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, the type of part dancers spend years preparing for and whole careers perfecting. And it's a role that New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck never thought she'd dance. Though Peck is one of the world's preeminent ballerinas, her short stature made Odette/Odile, typically performed by longer, leggier dancers, seem (almost literally) out of reach.
Then—surprise!—her name popped up on the cast list for NYCB's fall season run of Swan Lake.
Lani Dickinson's power, grace, and raw presence make her a standout with AXIS Dance Company, whose mission is to change the face of dance and disability by featuring a mix of disabled and non-disabled performers. Born in China, Dickinson was adopted by an American couple and started dancing at 8 in Towson, MD. She attended the Boston Ballet School for two summers, studied at the Idyllwild Arts Academy for the last two years of high school, and graduated with a dance degree from Alonzo King LINES Ballet's BFA program with Dominican University of California. In 2015, she joined AXIS and won a Princess Grace Award. Catch her this month during AXIS Dance Company's 30th-anniversary season—and read on for The Dirt!