It’s official: First Position is now playing in a theater near you, and it may just be your new favorite dance movie (look out, Center Stage). If you haven’t heard about this awesome documentary, here’s the gist:
The film follows insanely talented young ballet dancers for a year as they prepare for and compete in the Youth America Grand Prix, one of the most competitive and largest competitions out there. And each of the competitors has their own story and (often hilarious) personality.
Brother and sister, Jules (10) and Miko Fogarty (12) have a ballet teacher who often offers comic relief and a slightly overbearing stage mom. Jules may have the cuteness factor, but he just doesn’t love ballet. Big sis Miko, on the other hand, has the heart and the facility. Can’t wait to see where she goes next!
11-year-oldAran Bell lives in Italy and skateboards his way through his studio’s hallway. He's tough and talented. And is that a budding romance I see with fellow competitor Gaya Bommer Yemini?Read more about Aran in this “You Should Know.”
Rebecca Houseknecht (17) seems to have it all—a supportive family with the means to finance her dancing, long blond hair, the perfect ballet body (she’s so flexible!), and more pink and fluffy accessories than your average Barbie doll. But she’s also got a challenge that the others don’t—she’s graduating from high school and desperately wants to be hired by a professional company.
16-year-oldJoan Sebastian Zamora lives in NYC and has talent beyond his years—he offers some of the most impressive (and manly!) dance scenes in the film. Probably the most moving are his conversations with his family back in Columbia. So much hope rides on his shoulders, and he handles it with grace.
Michaela DePrince's story is shocking and often tear-inducing. The first years of this 14-year-old's life were spent on the war-torn streets of Sierra Leone. She was adopted and brought to America, and she’s worked her butt off to make it in ballet ever since. Her positive attitude is inspiring. Read more about Michaela in this “You Should Know.”
This is reality how it should be—no Dance Moms-like drama here. It’s all about sweet, hard-working, talented kids doing what they love. The dancing is incredible. Plus, we get never-before-seen behind the scenes access to YAGP. There are falls, injuries and some heartbreak along the way, but there’s also a whole lot of joy that will make you love dance even more than you already do.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
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:
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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.
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.