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Former Rhythmic Gymnast and Founder of Farfalla Fitness Iryna Yemengulova (Courtesy Farfalla)

How a Former Rhythmic Gymnast Created a Stretching and Strengthening Program Just for Dancers

For most dancers, rhythmic gymnasts are revered as sort-of superheroes. Think Elastigirl, from The Incredibles: Rhythmic gymnasts are the kind of flexible you usually only see in the movies. So even for us dancers, they're #FlexibilityGoals.

But what if you could train like a rhythmic gymnast? Or, better yet, with a rhythmic gymnast? Well, that's why Iryna Yemengulova founded Farfalla Fitness, a stretching method specially designed for dancers, created by Yemengulova herself, a former rhythmic gymnast. For all the deets on how you can achieve your #FlexibilityGoals with the help of Farfalla, read on.

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Because even if Thanksgiving looks a little different this year, we're still thankful (Getty Images/Rawf8)

4 Reasons for Dancers to be Thankful This Thanksgiving

We're finally in the last act of 2020—just a couple more numbers left before we can bow and breathe a hopeful sigh of relief that 2021 will be better. This year has been challenging in ways that we could never have imagined, but it has also shown how flexible (pun intended) the dance community can be. Here are four reasons we can all feel thankful this Thanksgiving.

Our teachers

This year we're thankful for our teachers, who made the difficult pivot from in-person to online dance classes as graceful as possible. We've kicked furniture, slipped on less-than-ideal floors, and been interrupted by pets, parents, siblings, and roommates. But with the help of our amazing teachers, we were able to keep dancing, even in the middle of a global crisis.

Our online classes

We're also thankful for the opportunity to take classes from studios and teachers that aren't in our usual schedule. How else could you enjoy Al Blackstone's Broadway Dance Center class over Zoom right before a Graham modern class on YouTube, and then head over to Instagram to learn some choreo from the Rockettes? And let's face it, you can't beat the commute.

Our newfound creativity

Necessity is the mother of invention, right? With studios closed and theaters empty, dancers found other avenues to explore and share their creativity. We've seen dancing in places like apartments, parks, and parking structures, and the unique scenery gives such a different vibe to all the wiggly improv vids on our feed. Keep them coming even once the pandemic is over, please!

Your resilience

Yes, you! We have been living through this pandemic since March, so if you are still dancing, you deserve a round of applause. It takes real discipline to keep logging into virtual classes day after day, or to catch your breath every single time you dance in a mask. It's been difficult emotionally and physically, but you continue to show up and work hard. Brava!

And if you've taken a break from dancing, you get a pat on the back for taking care of yourself. Dance will be there to welcome you back whenever you're ready.

All the tips you need to get through the college application craziness (Getty Images/insta_photos)

How to Stay Organized in the Pandemic-Era College Dance Application Process

The college application process can be, well—let's be honest here—downright maddening (#IYKYK). But for dancers, there's an added layer of stress: College dance applicants not only have to get into a school academically, they must also be accepted into its dance program. There's twice as much to prepare for and, on top of that, 2020 has, to say the least, been trying it—are we right?

Fortunately, you can alleviate some of that compounding stress by staying organized. Here are some tips to keep your college-application life in order in an especially hectic season of senior year.

Create a hub for account info

While you'll be able to apply to many schools through the Common Application, know that some schools still use school-specific application software, so chances are, you'll be creating and signing into a bunch of different online accounts. To keep this information organized and easily accessible, create a note on your phone or a password-protected document on your laptop. As you start each new college application, jot down usernames, passwords and pin numbers. By keeping all this information in one spot, you'll spare yourself the anxiety of having to memorize it. (And don't go full mom by using the same password for every. single. account.)

Be clear on the application materials you need for each school

Each of the programs you're auditioning for will likely have different methods for assessing your dancing. Some will prescreen, which means you'll have to submit a photo, usually standing in a ballet position that is specified by the school, or a video—before you're offered the opportunity to actually audition for the dance program. Others may ask for a specific or additional essay that relates to dance. And some—because 2020 has spared no aspect of our lives—have implemented completely new COVID-era protocols.

For the same reasons you should create a hub for all your log-in info, consider making one to establish which application materials you'll need to produce for each school. You can make one spreadsheet for all the schools you're applying to or, in a more tedious but ever-effective move, create a separate checklist for each school. That way, you know you're not forgetting to submit important parts of your application package.

Just imagine how good it will feel to get that coveted acceptance letter. (Getty Images/eyecrave)

Keep photography and filming simple

If a school requires you to submit photos or videos, take the directives about filming seriously. And be sure to respect any creative parameters a school might put on your submissions. The best rule of thumb: Keep it simple. Put on basic dancewear, pull your hair back (no whispies!), photograph head-on, and film without making any edits or adding special effects.

As a bonus, if you keep your videos relatively simple, you may be able to reuse some footage for different applications. Double-check the filming parameters, and see if there's anything you can repurpose for multiple schools.

Know your deadlines

Once you've established a list of schools that you're going to apply to, create a separate spreadsheet for the deadlines of each. (Yes, another spreadsheet!) But remember: As dancers, you don't just have a deadline for the application; you might also have a deadline to register for your audition and even one for submitting photos and videos for prescreening, so be sure to allocate space in your spreadsheet for those important deadlines, too.

Don't wait to ask for recommendations

Your teachers, both dance and academic, are overloaded with work in these crazy times, and on top of that, have students upon students requesting recommendation letters. Try not to be among the students who wait dangerously close to a deadline (you know who you are!) to ask for a rec letter. Instead, consider asking for yours early in the school year (that's right, now). By reaching out early, before mobs of other graduating seniors start asking too, you reduce the likelihood that the person writing your letter might rush through it or write something generic.

Ask someone you trust to read your essays

You've written tons of essays throughout your high school career. But writing a college essay—in which your every word feels like the difference between getting into a school or not—is a whole separate beast, so don't be afraid to have someone you trust (a parent, dance teacher or academic teacher, or maybe even a close friend who's an avid reader) look over your essay(s). In addition to finding grammatical or punctuation errors that you may have missed, they'll, hopefully—and more importantly—be able to tell you if they think your essay genuinely speaks to who you are, because they, more than most people, really know you.

Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers perform the mazurka in Coppélia (Angela Sterling, courtesy Pacific Northwest Ballet)

Building Character: What Happened to the Popularity of Character Dance?

Most full-length classical ballets feature several character dances—troupes of dancing peasants, parades of visiting princesses. Today, those dances are often seen as "filler," interludes to give the principals a breather between classical variations. But back in the 19th century, when many of these ballets premiered, character dances had deep cultural significance. Ballerinas, equally versed in character and classical techniques, would perform character dances in stand-alone programs. (Picture a Paris opera house full of cheering crowds, demanding multiple encores after their favorite star performs a knockout mazurka.) How did something that used to be so popular, and once provided critical context, fade from prominence?

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#TeamDaNelly made just want to "Jump, Jive, an' Wail" last night. (Erin McCandless, courtesy ABC)

"DWTS" Week 10 Recap: Double (Elimination) Trouble

We'd like to take a brief moment of silence for the fact that we made it to the semi-finals of this season of "Dancing with the Stars" without a single coronavirus case. The producers of a television dance competition really do have a better handle on this whole "pandemic" thing than some world leaders do, huh? (Though, "Strictly Come Dancing" didn't fare quite as well...)

And boy are we glad that this season didn't get shut down, because last night's semi-finals were chock full of some of the best dancing in "DWTS" history. But in case you missed the episode (or you were too busy counting down the hours until Ariana Grande's music video release), we rounded up all the best dancing—and the results of last night's shocking *double* elimination.

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