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The Best Dance Transformations of the Past Decade

It's the start of a brand-new year—and a brand-new decade! As you head back to school, the studio, and/or the stage, have you taken a little time to look back at how far you've come as a dancer over the past 10 years? Many dance icons are doing just that, sharing pics and videos showing how they've evolved since the beginning of the 2010s. Take a look at eight of our favorite oh-so inspiring transformations.

Jojo Gomez

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• • 10 years ago I visited Los Angeles & fell in love. I knew that it was where I wanted to be. I started my career as a professional dancer. I was hired on many dream jobs, received the best training & then found my voice in choreography in 2014. Watching this video makes me extremely emotional. I remember driving to Millennium every single day & waiting for a teacher to cancel their class so I could beg for a chance to sub. It was my dream to be a teacher. And to share my passion with others. Any chance I had to share my choreography with friends was a dream. I would rent studio space after studio space. Post video after video on my silly little YouTube channel that had NO subscribers. Hoping for a chance that Millennium or Edge would see it. My first class consisted of 5 dancers & I will never forget the feeling. It was the best day of my life. Fast forward to now. The fact that I get to do this. Every single day for a living. Travel anywhere in the world to a packed class. Work with some of the illest celebrities (who saw my work on social media) And receive up to millions of views on my YouTube channel with now 1.4M subscribers. My father always told me, “Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard”. That really stuck with me because I wasn’t always talented. Technique, confidence, or muscle memory did NOT come naturally to me at first. But with hard work, dedication, & belief - anything is possible. Anything. Life is filled with so many ups & downs. Heartbreak. Rock bottoms. I’ve lived through them all. Especially as a female in Los Angeles, where everybody is out for themselves. But the one thing that kept me going was my dreams. My eagerness to succeed. And to quite frankly prove my haters wrong. Damn, do I love haters. For those of you who have no one to lean on. Or don’t have a support system. Use that as a fuel to your fire to succeed. Be your own hero & chase the vision of yourself that you see in your head. Work harder than everybody else. Take every single class. Spend another hour at the gym. Save up all your money for that plane ticket. And I promise you - one day you will look back & be so grateful for the journey. Because you made it.

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Brian Friedman

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Looking back on this decade of dance and feeling exhausted and inspired! I’m sharing 10 of my favorites here… 1 from each year that I actually danced in. Each of these videos is special to me for their own reasons which I will keep to myself ;) I hope you enjoy them as much as I did! Now let’s go back in time! 2019: #ThinkinBoutYou by Ciara with @robbieblue_ & @mariespieldenner filmed by @ryanparma at @mdcdance 2018: #Wavey by @cliq feat @alika Filmed by @timmilgram at @westcoastdancethtr 2017: #Touch by @littlemix Filmed by @ryanparma at @mdcdance 2016: #IntoYou by @arianagrande with @whyleyy & @jaljoshua Filmed by @directorbrazil at @mdcdance 2015: #RhythmOfLove by @danitykane with @karenschuang @theresastone91 @montanaefaw & @allisonclaire42 Filmed by @timmilgram at @mdcdance 2014: #BreatheOnMe by @britneyspears Choreographed & danced by @yanismarshall and yours truly Filmed by @timmilgram at @movementlifestyle 2013: #WhatAboutUs by @thesaturdays with @janelleginestra @zacharyvenegas @willdabeast__ & @dejantubic Filmed on location in Mexico City 2012: WhereHaveYouBeen by @badgalriri with @tuckerbarkley & @whyleyy Filmed at @mdcdance 2011: #LittleBit by @lykkeli with @blakemcgrath @sloaner7 @tuckerbarkley & @kaylaradomski4 Filmed at @boogiezoneutopia 2010: #Delovely with @tajariley @paulinemata & @daniellepeig Filmed at #ThePulseOnTour #BrianFriedmanChoreography #BFreeGlobal #BrianFriedman #BrianFriedmanCreative #MasterOfDance

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Kaycee Rice

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#10yearchallenge Looking back at this decade, I’m so incredibly thankful for every opportunity that I have had. I’ve grown so much, and to be able to look back at what I’ve been able to accomplish so far is crazy to think about. From trying out for AGT for the first time at 7 years old, Katy Perry retweeting my first hip hop solo, getting to meet and perform with insanely talented, down to earth artists, creating memories and inspiring others, to creating my own Nike shoe, performing on World Of Dance, and teaching my first ever class; I am forever thankful for every moment♥️ Each year brought something new. Every day I continue to work hard to be where I am, stay true to who I am, and continue spreading positivity and sharing my love. Each and everyone of you have contributed to my journey in finding who I am, and have helped me break out of my shell and express that through my platforms. Thank you for allowing me to share and grow with all of you. I have my highs and lows but I am learning so much. I have so much love to give, and still so much to learn. The future can be intimidating, but I will continue to strive to be the best person that I can be, embracing my imperfections, and growing as an artist. Here is to the New Year! I want to bring love, laughter, memories, and an open mind into this new decade. I can’t wait to see what happens next☺️ see you all next year.... 💋-Kaycee Rice 2020

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Ashton Edwards Is Breaking Down Gender Barriers in Ballet

When Ashton Edwards was 3 years old, the Edwards family went to see a holiday production of The Nutcracker in their hometown, Flint, MI.

For the young child, it was love at first sight.

"I saw a beautiful, black Clara," Ashton says, "and I wanted to be just like her."

Ashton has dedicated 14 years of ballet training in pursuit of that childhood dream. But all the technical prowess in the world can't help Ashton surmount the biggest hurdle—this aspiring dancer was assigned male at birth, and for the vast majority of boys and men, performing in pointe shoes hasn't been a career option. But Ashton Edwards, who uses the pronouns "he" and "they," says it's high time to break down ballet's gender barrier, and their teachers and mentors believe this passionate dancer is just the person to lead the charge.

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In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of about two dozen dancers got the rare opportunity to work on an upcoming Apple TV+ series—one devoted entirely to celebrating, and spoofing, classic 1940s and '50s musicals from the Great White Way and Hollywood. "Schmigadoon!", which premiered on AppleTV+ July 16, stars Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key, who get stuck inside a musical and must find true love in order to leave. The show features a star-studded Broadway cast, including Aaron Tveit, Ariana DeBose, Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, Jane Krakowski and Dove Cameron, and is chock-full of dancing courtesy of series choreographer, Christopher Gattelli.

"The adrenaline was pretty exciting, being able to create during the pandemic," says Gattelli. "I felt like we were representing all performers at that point. There were so many who wanted to be working during the pandemic, so I really tried to embrace this opportunity for all of them."

Gattelli says it was a dream come true to pay tribute to the dance geniuses that preceded him, like Michael Kidd, Agnes de Mille, Onna White and Jerome Robbins, in his choreography. Each number shows off a "little dusting" of their work.

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Shouldering the Load: What kind of dance bag should dancers use?

Walk into any dance convention, audition or class, and you'll see a vast variety of dance bags lining the walls. But can the style of bag you use (and how you wear it) have an impact on your dancing?

Don't worry—you won't have to shoulder the load alone. Dance Spirit spoke with two physical therapists who specialize in working with dancers to find out what dance bag is best.

What should dancers look for in a dance bag?

Dr. Meghan Gearhart, physical therapist and owner of Head2Toe Physical Therapy in Charlotte, NC, recommends dancers opt for a backpack-style dance bag rather than a duffel or cross-body bag.

"A bag that pulls the weight all to one side creates a side bend and rotation in the trunk," Gearhart says. "That is going to lead to muscle imbalances that will affect dancers while they're dancing, as well as just in regular everyday life." Muscle imbalances can mean limited mobility on one side of your body, as the muscles on one side are overly contracted and the other side is overly extended to compensate.

Gearhart suggests dancers pick a backpack made from a lightweight yet durable and breathable material, such as cotton, linen, nylon or polyester. Straps should be wide enough to not dig into your shoulder muscles, so avoid drawstring styles with rope straps. Adjustable and padded straps are best, so you can wear the straps at a length where the bag rests at the middle of your back.

Dr. Bridget Kelly Sinha, physical therapist and founder of Balanced Physical Therapy and Dance Wellness in Matthews, NC, emphasizes the importance of finding an even weight distribution when choosing a dance bag.

"If a dancer has a lot to bring, like when heading to the theater for a full day of rehearsals and performances, then I recommend a rolling suitcase to offset the load," Sinha says.

How should dancers wear their bags?

Even if you've selected the perfect dance bag, it's important to be mindful of how you wear it.

Gearhart advocates wearing both straps when carrying your backpack. She also suggests placing heavier items towards the back of the bag, where they will sit closer to your body. A bag with straps that are too loose (or a bag that is too heavy) can create an increased arch in the lower back or cause a dancer to compensate for the weight by leaning forward. Ideally, Gearhart recommends a dancer's dance bag weighing no more than 10 to 15 percent of their body weight.

"I usually tell dancers to use their common sense. If you don't have tap today, you don't need to bring the tap shoes," she says. "If your water bottle makes the bag too heavy, just carry it." If your studio offers lockers, take advantage of that storage space to lessen the number of clothes, shoes, and dance accessories that live in your dance bag.

And if you think your bad dance-bag habits have given you alignment issues, seek out a dance physical therapist to prevent further injuries.

"As a dancer, your body is working so hard all day," Sinha says. "It does not need excess strain from your bag."

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