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.
The Farfalla Story<p>Yemengulova is originally from Eastern Europe, Ukraine to be exact. Growing up, she wasn't one of those girls #Blessed with natural flexibility. In fact, she was the opposite. "My mother originally signed me up for rhythmic gymnastics because I wasn't flexible," she says. But it just so happened that she loved the class—and over time, became incredibly passionate about rhythmic gymnastics.</p><p>She trained and competed in rhythmic gymnastics competitions across Europe and around the world. But by the age of 17, Yemengulova's rhythmic gymnastics career was over, as is typical for the sport. So, she came to the U.S.</p><p>"When I first moved to the United States, dance had nothing to do with rhythmic gymnastics. There was nothing similar," Yemengulova says. But over time, she started to see the art form shift. "Today, dance is moving towards more elements of rhythmic gymnastics. They're starting to look much more similar."</p><p>Yemengulova was inspired: She saw dancers mimicking elements of rhythmic gymnastics, but she also saw that something was just <em>missing</em>. "They lacked the elegant posture, and their extensions just weren't there," she says. "That's why I decided to create a program similar to rhythmic gymnastics stretching and strengthening, to give students the strong base that they need to look amazing onstage."</p>
(Olia Luis, Courtesy Farfalla)
How Farfalla Works<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ohAQAWJgggA" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p>Now before you get ahead of yourself daydreaming of needle turns and oversplits, you need to understand one thing: <a href="https://www.farfallafitness.com/kids/" target="_blank">Farfalla Fitness</a> isn't just a stretching program. It's a stretching and <em>strengthening</em> program.</p><p>"The program is built on flexibility and strength. We don't do just one or the other," Yemengulova says. "Stretching and strengthening are like coffee and cream: They need to go together."</p><p>This focus on both stretching and strengthening comes from Yemengulova's rhythmic gymnastics background. When she was in training, back in Ukraine, they did two hours of total body flexibility and strength training, every single day. This experience helped her understand that flexibility is nothing—if you don't have the strength to back it up.</p><p>Which isn't to say that <a href="https://www.farfallafitness.com/kids/" target="_blank">Farfalla Fitness</a> won't help you achieve the needle turns and oversplits of your dreams—all it takes is one glance at the <a href="https://www.instagram.com/farfallakids/" target="_blank">Farfalla Insta</a> to see that those goals are well within reach. But it means that you're going to be achieving those goals safely, over time. And, you'll be developing valuable knowledge of your own body's anatomy and alignment in the process.</p><p>"So many dancers try to achieve elements of rhythmic gymnastics, but they don't have the proper strength and flexibility," Yemengulova says. "So they end up performing it incorrectly, or injuring themselves. The purpose of our program is to give dancers a better way of understanding their bodies." Through Farfalla, Yemengulova not only helps dancers with their competition scores, but also gives them the tools to succeed throughout their entire dance careers and beyond.</p>
(Olia Luis, Courtesy Farfalla)
Try Farfalla at Home<blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CHLUJfWAGEe/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="13" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:540px; min-width:326px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"><div style="padding:16px;"> <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CHLUJfWAGEe/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" style=" background:#FFFFFF; line-height:0; padding:0 0; text-align:center; text-decoration:none; width:100%;" target="_blank"> <div style=" display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style=" background-color: #F4F4F4; 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font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:550; line-height:18px;"> View this post on Instagram</div></div><div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"><div> <div style="background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"></div> <div style="background-color: #F4F4F4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"></div></div><div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style=" background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"></div> <div style=" width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg)"></div></div><div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style=" width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"></div> <div style=" background-color: #F4F4F4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"></div> <div style=" width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"></div></div></div></a> <p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"> <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CHLUJfWAGEe/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_blank">💗💗💗 happy Wednesday loves . . . #dance#stretch#stretching #split#splits#dancer#contemporarydance #flexibilitytraining #goals #ballerina #oversplits #танцы #шпагат #художественнаягимнастика #растяжка #farfallakids</a></p> <p style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;">A post shared by <a href="https://www.instagram.com/farfallakids/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px;" target="_blank"> Flexibility Strength Technique</a> (@farfallakids) on <time style=" font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;" datetime="2020-11-04T17:12:56+00:00">Nov 4, 2020 at 9:12am PST</time></p></div></blockquote> <script async src="//www.instagram.com/embed.js"></script><p>In the age of COVID-19, no dance program is complete without a virtual component that we can try out at home. For Farfalla Fitness, that's where <a href="https://subscribe.farfallago.com/p/stretching-2" target="_blank">Farfalla Go</a> comes in—a completely digital version of the stretching and strengthening program that has made Farfalla so popular.</p><p>"We have a lot of dancers from around the world, and even across the United States, who can't come to our studio, but they want to train with us," says Yemengulova. "That's why we decided to create Farfalla Go, so everyone has a chance to try it at home."</p><p>To break it down: <a href="https://subscribe.farfallago.com/p/stretching-2" target="_blank">Farfalla Go</a> is a subscription-based program that grants you access to virtual stretching and strengthening programs created by Yemengulova herself. Every program is a combination of cardio, total body flexibility, and total body strength.</p><p>There are <a href="https://subscribe.farfallago.com/p/stretching-2" target="_blank">Farfalla Go videos </a>that help improve your turn out, videos to help you improve your leg extensions, jumps, turns—you name it, there's probably a video for it. Yemengulova even does weekly live lessons for all subscribers, so she can help her students with their form, and talk more about their progress.</p><p>"This program is made for dancers who want to stand out from the crowd—who want to have not just an OK leg extension, but a 'wow' result," Yemengulova says. "With <a href="https://subscribe.farfallago.com/p/stretching-2" target="_blank">Farfalla Go,</a> when you're onstage, the judge is going to notice."</p>
(Rachel Neville, courtesy Destiny Wimpye)
Almost two years ago, Destiny Wimpye shared her goals and dreams with Dance Spirit readers, and left us with this quote: "Following your dreams is definitely difficult, especially if you're a ballet dancer of color. You have to work twice as hard, but hard work always pays off!"
Who could have guessed that right now—yes, even in the midst of a pandemic—we'd be seeing that hard work pay off for her? Wimpye, now 17, was invited to train in the Professional Division at Pacific Northwest Ballet, and we're fouettéing with excitement! Dance Spirit caught up with her to chat about this exciting new chapter in her life, how she's training through pandemic restrictions, and her overall experience transitioning from student to professional dancer.
Be sure to keep up with her journey at PNB and beyond @destinywimpye, and, as always #FollowYourDestiny. —Nyamekye Smith
(Rachel Neville, courtesy Wimpye)
Since its inaugural season in 2012, Leap! National Dance Competition has been all about the little things.
"I wanted to have a 'boutique' competition. One where we went out to only one city every weekend, so I could be there myself, and we could really get to know the teachers and watch their kids progress from year to year," says Leap! executive director Drew Vamosi. According to Vamosi, thoughtful details make all the difference, especially during a global pandemic that's thrown many dancers' typical comp-season schedules for a loop. That's why Leap! prides itself on features like its professional-quality set design, as well as its one-of-a-kind leaping competition, where dancers can show off their best tricks for special cash and merchandise prizes.
Dancers at Leap!'s new Ambassador Series convention (Courtesy Leap!)<p>"I spent most of our downtime working on our relationships with venues, as well as <a href="https://c4dc3734-7b17-44b1-b43d-bda3b7efd80d.filesusr.com/ugd/eb04aa_e09e8aac32924f33b6b7a842ac895f07.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">safety protocol,</a>" Vamosi explains. That protocol includes limiting audience members, requiring both dancers and audience members to undergo temperature checks and wear masks at all times (except when performing), adding more awards ceremonies throughout the weekend, and taking a whole new approach to scheduling. </p>
There's a bit of a Thanksgiving tradition here at Dance Spirit: Every November, each of us editors makes a list of the danciest things we're grateful for from the past year—performances, shows, dancers, choreographers; anything and everything that made us grateful to be a part of the dance world for another year.
And while our lists might look a little different this year (okay, a lot different) we're still pretty darn grateful to be a part of the dance world. So without further ado, here are our #gratitude journals, 2020 edition.
Thomas Ford, Contributing Editor
I am most thankful to you, our readers—a generation that champions inclusion and progress. You're why I'm here, and why I get to tell incredible stories at the intersection of dance and important cultural events. I'm grateful for the small strides our beloved dance community has made in the wake of renewed calls for racial and social justice. I'm thankful (honored) to have reported on the obstacles that Black women face in the dance industry, to have chatted with the coolest #TikTokers in all the land, and to have been invited to be a part of the talented Dance Spirit and Dance Media teams.
Nyamekye Smith, Assistant Editor
I've been channeling gratitude in every possible moment to get through the numerous challenges this year has presented the world with. When I thought about the biggest contributor to my sanity throughout everything (COVID-19 and life in general), dance resonated the deepest. Whether I was watching a mind-blowing dance-filled production, taking a fun online class, or freestyling while sitting on my bed, dance took my mind to all the places I couldn't go physically in 2020.
I'm thankful to have taken my first class from Parris Goebel. (Who knew it'd be via Instagram live?) I'm thankful for the wild creativity behind this year's SavagexFenty show, and Parris's creativity on all levels. (Okay, I guess I'm just generally thankful for Parris Goebel). I'm grateful that I had the chance to experience my first socially-distanced dance convention at Monsters of Hip Hop! Although dancing in a mask is no joke, getting to step outside of my tiny bedroom and really dance after months of isolation—without being overly-cautious about space—was much needed. I'm also really thankful for JaQuel Knight for creating the Dancers' Relief Fund and Thom White for creating the Zoom-inspired dance concept video that truly blew my mind.
I'm forever thankful for the joy that dance continues to spread during tough times, and the fact that it serves as a means for us to reflect, heal, learn, and grow in so many ways. The dance world has always naturally intertwined with positive movements and messages that push the world into a more positive space, and I'm beyond thankful to be a part of it.
Amanda Sherwin, Managing Editor
This year, I'm filled with gratitude to be part of a dance community that is more creative, resilient, and compassionate than ever.
I'm thankful for the dancers who opened up about their quarantine experience in our #SocialDisDancing series, reminding us all that we don't have to face this year alone. I'm also thankful for the ways that dance has been used as activism, from fundraising to protests to starting long-overdue dialogues on uprooting racism in our schools and studios.Finally, I'm thankful for all the ways dancers have turned this joke of a year into...just that. From laughing about virtual class struggles of which we can all relate, to the wonderful wacky world that is dancer TikTok, relatable dance humor is at least 50% of how I've gotten through 2020, so by all means keep it coming!
Cadence Neenan, Senior Editor
It's been a tough year, folks. And while I'll be the first to admit that I don't feel thankful every second of every day, I do feel thankful for the amazing, vibrant, ever-changing dance world at least once a day. I'm thankful that I get to spend every day reading, writing, and talking about this amazing, vibrant, ever-changing world, and that I get to work with colleagues and coworkers who love it as much as I do.
I'm thankful that we got a season of "Dancing with the Stars," pandemic edition—and that we made it through that season without a single case of COVID-19. Hats off to the "DWTS" team for that one! I'm thankful that the dance world has found a home on TikTok, and that people from around the world have used the app as a place to connect over their love of dance. (I'm also grateful that TikTok produced #Ratatousical.) I'm thankful that many of us took this moment on pause to reflect, and start having some tough conversations around race, racism, and difference in the dance world—as overdue as they might be. And I'm thankful, especially, to all of our wonderful Dance Spirit readers for making my job so meaningful (and fun).
Y'all, this season of "Dancing with the Stars" was truly one for the books. And not just because the "DWTS" team managed to pull off a reality TV show in the midst of a global pandemic, but because the dancing was truly some of the best we've ever seen. Like, "We went into the finale with no idea who would win," level dancing.
And with such an iconic season of "DWTS," the finale was bound to be iconic, too—which it most certainly was. We got to see each star recreate their favorite number from the season, and then, of course, their freestyle dance. And as always, the freestyles were one of our fave parts of the season. After all, when you give these pros and celebs free rein of the ballroom, you never know quite what to expect.
So in case you missed last night's episode (or in case you were too busy mourning the end of our "DWTS" recaps until next season) we rounded up all of the best dancing from the finale—and who walked away with the Mirrorball Trophy.