Dancer to Dancer
Oregon Ballet Theatre's Jacquline Straughan (with Brian Simcoe) showing off her beautiful epaulment in Swan Lake (photo by Jingzi, courtesy Oregon Ballet Theatre)

It's in Odette's gracefully arched neck, the Lilac Fairy's regal bearing, even a contemporary dancer's extreme lines. The "it" in question? Épaulement—the nuanced positioning of the head, shoulders, and neck. Using your épaulement (which translates, literally, as "shouldering") does more than make your dancing prettier: It makes it better, richer, and more artistic. But achieving effortless épaulement is easier said than done, especially since technique classes tend to focus on the legs and feet.

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How To
Gonzalo Garcia and Sterling Hyltin showing off some pristine partnering in George Balanchine's Vienna Waltzes (Paul Kolnik, courtesy New York City Ballet)

A pas de deux can be one of the most mesmerizing parts of a ballet. But a lot goes into a beautiful duet—and getting tricky partnering right takes tons of practice and training.

Struggling with pas de deux? Jared Nelson, Associate Artistic Director of the California Ballet Company, gave us 10 tips that all dancers can benefit from.

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Dance Fashion

Bored with buns? We broke down the basics of three classic, class-perfect braids.

Modeled by Haley Hilton

Photography by Jayme Thornton

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Dancer to Dancer
Presenting awards at Showstopper Nationals in 2017 (photo by Aaron Williams, courtesy Showstopper)

Competition award ceremonies represent the culmination of months of preparation. It's no wonder dancers feel the pressure! But the truth is, most of us won't come away with the grand prize. How do you prepare yourself for the results, whatever they may be? DS spoke with teachers and comp judges on how to cope at different stages of the competition—and to use any disappointment to your advantage.

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How To
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Thinking about declaring a dance major? We had professors discuss all the factors you should consider before submitting that major-declaration form.

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How To
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The high-flying leaps of grand allegro are meant to be incredibly exciting. But at the end of an intense ballet class, when you're exhausted, it can be hard to give them the attention they deserve. Want to pump up your big jumps? Follow these 10 vital tips from Jennifer Hart, curriculum director and instructor at Ballet Austin.

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Health & Body
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"Whole, low-fat, or skim?" The question of which milk to drink has gotten a little more complicated lately, with a wide variety of nondairy milks popping up in grocery stores. To find out which ones are worth your milk money, we had registered dietitian Monika Saigal answer some FAQs.

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Dancer to Dancer
ABT JKO School student Miuka Kadoi shoiwng off her beautiful line (photo by Kenneth Edwards)

Contemporary phenom Christina Ricucci has super-flexible hips, which means she can stretch her legs to unbelievable heights. But when she noticed herself making contorted positions in class, Ricucci realized she was approaching her extensions all wrong. "I went back to the basics in class, squaring my hips and using my turnout," Ricucci says. "I learned to create proper positions, rather than whacked-out versions of them."

Some dancers are so wonky they have a hard time supporting their high legs, while others struggle with limited flexibility. But no matter your facility, you can find a balance of stretch and strength to achieve your fullest range of extension. It's not about how high (or not) your legs can go: It's the quality of the movement, and how you get those legs up, that counts.

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