Dancing with the (Ballet) Stars

Did you catch former American Ballet Theatre principal Jose Manuel Carreño on "Dancing with the Stars" last night? The last time Carreño appeared on the show, he performed a (kind of strange) take on Swan Lake with Lorna and Lorena Feijoo. This time, though, he took on ballroom, slinking through a steamy Argentine tango with "DWTS" pro Karina Smirnoff.

I'm far from a ballroom expert, but Carreno's tango moves looked pretty great to me. I've always thought that ballet and ballroom shared many similarities—both emphasize form, structure, fluidity that's also precise. (And we've already discussed Billy Elliot star Kiril Kulish's success in competitive ballroom dance, which is awesome.)

But Smirnoff wrote a blog about working with Carreño that upends all my uninformed assumptions: She says she and Carreño have "very different" dance backgrounds. "Ballroom is fluid and soft and ballet is all about the frame," she says. "It's like having an opera singer and a rapper come together."

Interesting! I thought it was the other way around—that ballet dancers, used to being swans and princes, had trouble adjusting to the strong, forceful ballroom frame. (And I definitely never thought about putting ballet and rap in the same category.) But I'm a bunhead, so it's cool to hear about the crossover from a ballroom expert's perspective. Smirnoff's description is also, I think, an argument for cross-training: Ballet dancers have so much to learn from ballroom dancers, and vice versa.

More on that, by the way, in our September issue. Stay tuned!

(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers by clicking on their names here:

Read Darriel's profile here

Read Diego's profile here

Read Emma's profile here

And then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

Cover Model Search
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Dancers are naturally "in their heads" all the time—but not always in productive ways. Long days of receiving and applying corrections, taking class, and performing can get to even the most composed individuals. What should you do when you feel like your mind is just as busy as your rehearsal schedule? Try meditation. Dance Spirit turned to Adreanna Limbach, a head teacher at NYC-based meditation studio MNDFL, for a breakdown of this highly beneficial practice.

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Liz Imperio teaching at Hollywood Vibe, Courtesy of Hollywood Vibe

It's an increasingly common scenario: A talented dancer wins big at a competition, is offered an assistantship with a famous faculty member, and ends up leaving her hometown studio to travel with a convention. Convention-hopping has obvious benefits. Every event generates new content for dancers to post on social media, gives them a better shot at ending up on their favorite choreographers' accounts, lets them learn from the best of the best, and helps them make valuable connections. "Traveling is a great way for dancers to gain admirers around the country," says Jen Jarnot, owner of Artistic Fusion Dance Academy in Thornton, CO. "That's something every dancer craves." So it's no surprise that weekend FOMO has been blazing through studios like wildfire.

But is this jet-setter lifestyle really the most effective road to take? Can weekends of dancing with top talent truly replace the bread and butter of daily work at your home studio? The answer, according to most industry experts, is no. We asked five pros to explain why.

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