Ailey or NYCB? What a decision...

I lied. I said in my last blog that I was headed to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to see the Ailey company perform... well, something came up and I ended up going to see NYCB instead.


Don't worry, the Ailey tickets didn't go to waste- some of my family members went instead. I was most disappointed that I wasn't able to see the company perform Camille A. Brown's The Groove to Nobody's Business. I've heard so much about the work and I was able to see Brown perform a fierce solo this spring in Dallas, so I knew it would be great. My younger brother (who has said "I just don't get modern dance," breaking his big sister's heart) went to the performance, and when I asked about Groove, said "Oh, it was about the subway, and it was awesome." And everyone loved the signature Revelations. Of course, how could you not?


My evening at Lincoln Center was also quite enjoyable. I snagged a couple free tickets from a friend of mine who dances at SAB (a thank you shoutout to my ticket provider, you know who you are!), and went with a friend of mine from TCU (she's here dancing at ABT's Collegiate Summer Intensive). The reason I chose this over Ailey can be summed up in a name: Jerome Robbins.


I will admit, I'm slightly obsessed with Mr. Robbins. I did an ample amount of research concerning both his ballet and Broadway choreography in my Dance History class last year. In the process, I learned about NY Export: Opus Jazz, a work he created for a festival in Italy in 1958. It was meant to showcase American dance, and the dance is truly American. It's also truly Robbins, a real blend of theatrics and dance technique, displaying both subtlety in movement as well as virtuosic feats. Reading about his process in creating NY Export (from deliberately casting an ethnically diverse cast, to creating movement, to designing costumes that included Keds Sneakers) was fascinating.


When I saw that NYCB was performing NY Export on the program (which included two other dances choreographed by Robbins), I had to go. This dance is not often performed and is atypical of most dances you'll see on a City Ballet program. Off go the leotards and pointe shoes, and instead the dancers wear leggings, bright-colored sweaters, and matching sneakers. I thoroughly enjoyed the two Robbins' ballets that were performed that night, but I was on the edge of my seat during this "jazz ballet" filled with high kicks, quick finger snaps, and multiple pirouettes and danced to the dynamic jazz score by Robert Prince. NY Export was the first ballet Robbins choreographed after working on West Side Story, and the two share the same spirit of vibrant, dancing teenagers moving to express the emotions rising up inside of them.


A new film taking NY Export off the stage and into New York is being directed and danced by NYCB dancers. To find out more, check out

Latest Posts

Trans dancer, choreographer, and activist Sean Dorsey in his work Boys in Trouble (Keegan Marling, courtesy Sean Dorsey Dance)

8 Phenomenal Trans and GNC Dancers to Follow

Whether through color-specific costumes, classes separated by sex, or the "traditional" view of the roles boys and girls should play in ballet, most dance students are taught that their gender determines their role in the studio beginning in elementary school. And, especially for those struggling with their own gender identity, that can cause harm and confusion. "From a very young age, I did not see myself reflected anywhere in the modern dance field," says trans dancer, choreographer, and activist Sean Dorsey. "There was a really intense message I received, which was that my body and identity don't have a place here."

Despite significant societal progress in regards to gender representation, the dance world has trailed behind, and many transgender and gender nonconforming teenagers still feel lost within the world of dance. Prominent trans and GNC professional dancers are few and far between. "Being a Black trans woman means I have to work extra, extra, extra hard, because I have to set the tone for the people who come after me," says Brielle "Tatianna" Rheames, a distinguished voguer.

But the rise of social platforms has given Rheames, Dorsey, and other trans and GNC dancers a path to visibility—and that visibility helps create community and change lives. "Social media plays an extremely big part," Rheames says. "You can't just hide us anymore." Here are eight incredible trans and GNC dancers to add to your own Instagram feed.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Project 21 dancers (from left) Selena Hamilton, Gracyn French, and Dyllan Blackburn (Photo by Quinn Wharton; hair and makeup throughout by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.)

How Project 21 Is Shaping the Next Generation of Competition-Dance Standouts

"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search