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Photo by Dyson Campbell, Courtesy of Adrenaline

Adrenaline Dance Convention Is Bringing Its Dance Family to You

Is your heart racing? We know why. Adrenaline Dance is returning for its 19th season, and it's ready to bring the excitement of its live dance convention/competition experience to a city near you.

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Photo by Nick Walker, courtesy Felice Smith

Go Behind the Scenes of Olivia Rodrigo’s SOUR Prom Video

What is a high school prom, if not bittersweet? If you're Olivia Rodrigo, the whole event can turn downright sour.

After releasing music videos for "drivers license," "deja vu" and "good 4 u," Rodrigo collaborated with directors Kimberly Stuckwisch and Toby L and choreographer Monika Felice Smith on SOUR Prom, a 27-minute concert film for her album SOUR. "You can look at the time it takes to prep choreography for a single music video and multiply that by at least eight," Smith says. "Then throw in 20 dancers, 15 cheerleaders, a drum line, Olivia's band and 70 background actors."

Dance Spirit spoke with Smith and dancer Genna Moroni about bringing SOUR Prom's choreography to life on film.

Prom Prep

Once Smith signed on to choreograph the concert video, the challenge of creating movement for a long video with a large cast became clear. "My prep time was a lot longer and took infinitely more brainpower," Smith says.

She enlisted two assistant choreographers (Jen Apter and Leah LaGrange), and reached out to trusted dancers to join the project. One was Moroni, who had previously worked with Smith on a music video for Sam Fischer.

"It was quite intense, with a really quick turnaround," Moroni says. She learned about the project on a Friday. It was cast that weekend, and by the next Tuesday, all the dancers were deep into two days of hours-long rehearsals. The dancers were split into two casts, one for the indoor gymnasium scenes and the rest for the outdoor football-field scenes. After the dancers learned and rehearsed the choreography, Rodrigo joined the rehearsal and learned her blocking in each number.

Moroni appeared in the indoor scenes, including "brutal," "traitor" and "jealousy, jealousy." "It was so much information, and we only had a little bit of time to let it settle in our bodies before we had to show up and be super-professional on the day of the shoot," Moroni says.

A Night to Remember

"All of the pieces not only had to stand strong on their own, but also flow together as one," Smith says. "The cohesive story amongst the tracks encouraged me to create interrelatedness within the movement."

From the start, Smith says she was inspired by the idea of opposing the "traditional" high school prom. "I wanted to illustrate Olivia's desire for a strange waltz, and finding the beauty in the bizarre," Smith says. Her movement combined a fusion of her technical background: contemporary, ballet and jazz sprinkled with jazz funk and hip-hop elements. "Unless it's a requirement, there's no reason to give yourself choreographic parameters within a particular style," she says. "If you don't have to make the rules, you don't have to follow any, either."

The world of SOUR Prom fully crystallized once the cast entered the set. Moroni, who attended a performing arts high school and did not experience a normal prom, was slightly dazzled. "I kept asking people, 'Is this really what it feels like when you're in a normal high school?' It was fun to live that reality for a while."

And despite the tight shooting schedule, the fun on set continued. "Energetically, it was so much more fun than a regular music video because the dancers were on for longer than we were off," Moroni says. "The numbers were created to feel alive and continuous. I got to see what it feels like to perform more live-concert–style work."

Crowning the Prom Queen

The film's finale, which was shot on the University of Southern California's football field, was perhaps the trickiest number for Smith to nail. The choreography for "good 4 u" involved Olivia, her band, USC's drum line, and a cast of dancers and cheerleaders.

"I constantly went over the pathways in my head, especially when heading into the giant circles surrounding Olivia for the overhead drone shots," Smith says. "Thankfully, no one collided, and it all worked seamlessly. Olivia's reaction was 'I'm obsessed,' and I was finally able to exhale."

"This was a true result of teamwork," she says. "Without everyone running together, hands held tightly toward the finish line, we would have never gotten it done." Their teamwork paid off—the video has been viewed over 13 million times since its premiere on June 29, 2021.

"The biggest reward as an artist is to grow and level up with not only good people, but also those you care for," Smith says. "SOUR Prom was truly a gift from start to finish, getting to create such a powerful piece in pop culture and with such a genuinely driven and talented artist like Olivia."

Rodrigo's reaction after seeing the full cast of "Good 4 U" perform the number for the first time

Photo by Nick Walker, courtesy Felice Smith

Photo by Dyson Campbell, Courtesy Revive

Revive Dance Competition's Biggest Season Yet Kicks Off November 5

Revive Dance Competition and Convention is returning for its sixth (and largest!) season yet with their "Discover the Difference" national tour. What started as an offshoot of Adrenaline Dance has firmly established itself as a unique dance competition/convention experience for dancers to grow as artists. Revive's mission is to connect up-and-coming teachers with the next generation of dancers, allowing these professional performers to continue to flourish in their dance careers, while also honing their skills as educators.

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What’s in Your Dance Bag—Based on Your Zodiac Sign

Sometimes our dance bags feel like portals to another dimension—we have no idea what half the stuff buried in our bags even is. (Note to self: Clean out dance bag.)

But have you ever wondered if there's a method to the madness? We're pretty sure there is, and as always, we're pretty sure it's something to do with astrology. That's right, your resident Dance Spirit astrologers are back with our best guess at what you keep in your dance bag—based on your zodiac sign.

Aries

You're always going 100 mph Aries (or maybe even more), so it's pretty much a guarantee that your dance bag is fully stocked with snacks to power you through the day. Granola bars, trail mix, yogurt, fruit. It's like a Whole Foods in there.

You've also usually got about six different pairs of shoes in your bag. As an Aries, you love adventure, trying new things and, most of all, a challenge. So when it comes to classes, you're all over the map. Tap, jazz, ballet, character, modern—you'll try them all.

Something else you won't go without? Your signature red lipstick, obv. How else are you going to show off your fiery personality? (And look amazing while doing it, TYSM.)

Taurus

As a child of Venus, you always want to look your best, Taurus. So your dance bag is a hair salon/makeup station, all in one. If your dance besties need to borrow a hair tie, or are looking for a fun accessory to spice up their bun, they know you're the one to go to.

Also important to you? Smelling your best. Taureans love comforting, luxurious scents, so your dance bag is typically equipped with a favorite perfume or deodorant. (Or both.)

But what's most important is the bag itself—admit it, you've been using the same dance bag for years. We get it, Taurus, nobody likes change, and least of all the stubborn bull of the zodiac. But if your dance bag is really starting to smell like feet (or if your bobby pins are starting to slip through the holes in the bottom), you might want to consider investing in a new bag.

Gemini

Gemini, you love to switch it up. So you're pretty much guaranteed to have at least three different dance fits in your bag at any given time. And your dancewear is always on point. You love to keep up with trends and try edgy, new looks.

Ever the intellect, you usually have a book in your bag, as well. You're always making book recs to your fellow dancers, and you refuse to be bored between rehearsals or backstage.

Though you might act carefree, Gemini, we know that at heart, you're ruled by Mercury—and you have more in common with your sister sign Virgo than you'd like to admit. That's why you always have a toothbrush, toothpaste, and some floss in your dance bag. No way you're getting caught with food between your teeth (or bad breath during partnering class).

Cancer

Not to be obvious, but as a water sign, the first and foremost thing a Cancerian keeps in their dance bag? A water bottle, of course. (Preferably a Hydroflask, S'well or any bottle that comes in a fun color.) No dehydration here, please and thank you.

Your dance bag also functions as a de facto vending machine for your dance besties, since you always come prepared with the best snacks, and you're always willing to share. As a bonus, your snacks are almost always homemade, since you're practically a five-star chef.

And while we're wary of zodiac stereotypes, there is a pretty good chance your dance bag is stocked with tissues. And there's no shame in that—because, really, who can get through a performance of Romeo and Juliet without shedding some tears? Props to you for being in touch with your emotions, Cancer.

Leo

We'll state the obvious, Leo. You love to look at yourself, and sometimes the studio mirrors just aren't enough. So, naturally, you always keep a compact mirror in your dance bag, just in case your makeup or your bun needs an extra touch-up.

You also love bright colors, and you're not afraid to wear more daring dancewear than any of your besties. You've usually got a couple of leotards packed in your bag, just in case you need to make a fashion statement, and they're always fun. Bright colors, loud prints, stylish necklines—you'll try anything.

But something not everyone knows about you? You're an amazing friend, and incredibly loyal, Leo. That's why you've usually got something in your bag for your dance bestie, be it her favorite brand of granola bar, a fun sparkly pin for her hair, or a note reminding her she's a star, on and off the stage.

Virgo

You're incredibly hardworking, Virgo, so you've always got the tools for success in your dance bag. TheraBands, foam rollers, tennis balls—you're the one dancer your teacher can always count on to be stretching between classes.

You also love to be prepared, so you've usually got a makeshift first-aid kit in your bag. The thought of suffering a blister or floor burn without the appropriate salves or bandages makes you shudder, and, hey, it's always better to be overprepared, right?

What's most noticeable about your dance bag, though, isn't what's inside of it. It's what it looks like—your bag is pristine. It never smells like feet, and you've got a hard-core system for what you keep in each little zip pocket or compartment. And TBH, all of your dance friends are jealous, though they'd never admit it.

Libra

Like your sister sign Taurus, appearances are important to you, Libra. You like to look good (no shame in that), so your dance bag is always stocked with the essentials: extra hair spray, lip gloss, concealer, bobby pins and a spare leotard, in case you get just a bit too sweaty.

You also love to socialize, so if this were the 1950s, we would say that you always keep your date book in your dance bag. As it is, you always have your phone with you, and it's usually blowing up with texts from your dance besties asking to make plans.

Your dance bag wouldn't be complete without your secret supply of chocolate. But to be clear: This isn't your average Hershey's bar. Libras aren't afraid to indulge, so you keep a bar of luxury dark chocolate tucked away for when the cravings hit.

Scorpio

You can't fool us, Scorpio—the contents of your dance bag aren't some big mystery, like you'd like us all to believe. In fact, they're pretty basic: For starters, you always have a black leotard or two in your bag. After all, black is your signature color.

One thing that isn't in Scorpio's dance bag? Toe pads. You love to look tough, so you'd never be caught dead wearing toe pads with your pointe shoes. However, this does mean you need a hefty supply of Band-Aids for the inevitable blisters.

You also love all things mystical and, dare we say, witchy. You're the Halloween queen of the zodiac, after all! So it's no surprise you always have a crystal or two in the front pocket of your dance bag. Let us guess…moldavite?

Sagittarius

You're an explorer, Sagittarius, and that applies to your dancing. You're always trying new dance styles, and that's reflected in your dance bag. You always have the trappings of your latest obsession in your bag: heeled shoes for ballroom, kneepads for contact improv, sneakers for breaking, the list goes on and on.

But on all of your adventures, there's one consistency: You love making memories. And that means literally—you document everything. At each performance or recital, you're bound to be the one with a Polaroid or disposable camera in your bag, and you can usually be found snapping backstage candids of your dance besties.

Your other favorite form of documenting? Writing it down. You love to learn, so you're always taking notes. You can usually be found after class scribbling down your dance teacher's latest piece of wisdom. Your dance bag is crammed with half-filled notebooks, and you wouldn't have it any other way.

Capricorn

You like to be prepared, Capricorn. And we mean prepared—for every bad scenario imaginable. That's why your dance bag is a mini survival kit. The first Capricorn dance bag guarantee? A stitch kit, of course. Losing a ribbon on your pointe shoe mid-rehearsal is your worst nightmare.

You also always have at least three spare leotards handy. After all, what if you spill something, or get too sweaty or, worst of all, show up to an audition in the same leotard as your dance rival? No, thank you. As a Capricorn, you're expecting the best and preparing for the worst.

Another key to your survival kit? Headphones, so you can drown out the noise around you and focus on your dancing. And before anyone asks, the answer is yes, you have the perfect playlist—for each and every occasion.

Aquarius

Aquarius, you love helping others. That's why it sometimes seems like your dance bag isn't even for you—it's filled with stuff you bring for your friends. Snacks for one dance bestie, Band-Aids for another, and tampons, of course, just in case anyone needs one.

But when it comes to you, you're all about originality. That's why you always have tons of fun accessories in your bag: striped legwarmers, colorful socks, tie-dyed sweats and more than a couple of fun additions to your ballet bun, just to make it a little more interesting.

You're also a rebel at heart, Aquarius, which is why there's usually something in your dance bag that just borders on breaking the rules. Maybe your studio is strictly black leotards only—and yours is gray. Or phones are completely banned—and you just put yours on vibrate. We see you.

Pisces

Like your fellow water sign Cancer, you're big on hydrating during dance class. But as a Pisces, you're a little more imaginative (and a little less practical), meaning you're usually carrying your water in something aesthetically pleasing, like a mason jar, a tumbler, or one of those fancy water bottles with a crystal in the base.

Unlike Cancer, you're a mutable sign, meaning you can adapt to just about any situation. Counterintuitively, this actually means your dance bag is pretty sparse. Unlike other zodiac signs who feel the need to overprepare in case of disaster, you're comfortable in most situations, and your dance bag reflects it. You like the basics, nothing else.

Something most people might not know about you, though, is that you get cold easily. We're not sure why, but it's a Pisces staple. That's why if you keep anything in your dance bag, it's the coziest of warm-ups.

Michelle Cordero, Courtesy VXN

Janet Jones’ VXN Workout Gets Your Heart Pumping and Booty Rolling

Dance, fitness and fierceness. When former Miami HEAT dancer Janet Jones found herself missing the magic of movement while working at her corporate job, she created VXN, a hip-hop cardio workout class. With lights dimmed low and the latest pop anthems on full volume, VXN classes reimagine the often-tedious experience of hitting the gym as an empowering and calorie-torching performance. Chanting "Yes, I'm sexy!" and "Yes, I'm fierce!" may feel intimidating at first, but according to Jones, the joy of VXN is in releasing your inhibitions and feeling the sweat on your skin. (Request for Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten" for the cooldown, please!)

Dance Spirit spoke with Jones and college VXN instructors Addie Jasica and Mikayla McGee about how they've incorporated the thrill of performing and booty-rolling into a 50-minute class.

Dance Spirit: Can you share some of your dancing background, growing up and professionally?

Janet Jones: I started dancing at age 3, and I only did ballet until 16. I then got into jazz and lyrical—hip hop wasn't as widely popular at the time. I got a BFA in dance at Florida State University, where I was introduced to African dance classes. Then, I joined an outside dance team called Flava, which was my first experience with hip hop! Later on, I came back home and auditioned for the Miami HEAT dance team, which was a whole new experience. I had to learn choreography super quickly and perform it that week. It was also my first experience as a brand ambassador and being responsible for my persona.

While I was on the HEAT, I got to know choreographer Darrin Henson, which led to the opportunity to assist on tour with him and be in his instructional video Darrin's Dance Grooves. I fell in love with the business and creative processes of artist development and putting shows together.

DS: What was your inspiration behind VXN?

JJ: I loved the industry, but eventually I wanted to settle down. I got a job in the corporate world before becoming a mom. Once I completely left the dance industry, I quickly realized how much dance contributed to keeping me emotionally healthy. I wanted to fill the holes of everything I desperately needed in my life. Dance can be exclusionary; you or your parents have to be able to invest a lot of time and money. I wanted to give the magic of performing to everyone.

DS: How has COVID-19 impacted VXN classes and certification training?

JJ: I had to pivot quickly. We had already planned to do a virtual studio and an online certification, but COVID-19 put those plans front and center. No one could help me during quarantine, and I set up the virtual studio myself as the only instructor. It was really challenging, but, luckily, we saw a huge success with online certifications, because it gave people the opportunity to invest in themselves and benefit their physical, mental and emotional health during that time. They can pay it forward within the community, too.

VXN founder Janet Jones leading class

Tony Tarin, Courtesy VXN

DS: What are your goals for VXN moving forward?

JJ: We're in eight different countries now, and I want to continue expanding. We're launching a platform to improve education for instructors. It will consist of accessible marketing, branding, community building and business education––everything that I've learned over the years.

DS: Any advice for dancers wanting to make a career in fitness?

JJ: As a dancer, it's so different being a fitness instructor and getting what I used to love from dance. There are so many things that make dance magic that are missing from fitness. Add that! Bring your unique perspective to the job.

Creating Confidence and Community on Campus

VXN classes have gained momentum at college campuses across the country. Addie Jasica is a former VXN instructor at Tulane University, and Mikayla McGee teaches at Georgia State University, Georgia Tech and around the Atlanta area. Both brought the virtual VXN heat throughout quarantine.

"When I was in third grade, I saw the hip-hop classes from my studio perform," Jasica says of her dance experiences growing up. "I knew that was what I wanted to do. I joined my dance academy's hip-hop performance and competition companies, and, later, the jazz, contemporary and ballet company in high school. When I came to Tulane, I wanted to dance more casually, and a senior instructor introduced me to VXN."

To start her campus classes, McGee contacted group fitness directors at nearby universities. "I let them know what I wanted to do and what the program was like. It helped to have success at Atlanta studios already, and I set up an audition to take them through a warm-up, the meat of the class and a cooldown."

Both Jasica and McGee have gained more confidence, opportunities and even better friendships from their classes. McGee shares, "Many of my friends I've met through VXN, and we've done some cool things together, like choreograph and perform for 'Weird Al' Yankovic's 'Smells Like Nirvana' at The Fox, a famous theater here in Georgia. We've also done the Wigwam: Wellness Festival, Home Depot Backyard, and I'm running the ATL Summer Fit Fest this year."

Jasica adds, "I learned to command a room. There's a kind of trust and confidence you develop in yourself, having to speak without a script."

When asked to describe VXN in three words, McGee smiles. "'Sweaty,' 'fun' and 'community.'"

Jasica agrees. "'Empowering,' 'strong' and 'fun.' 'Fun' really is the best way to capture VXN! You know, flirty and a little silly, all in good fun."