#BTS: What It's Like to Tour the World with Pop Stars
Commercial dancer Melanie Mah is no stranger to dancing behind some of the music industry's most famous artists. She's worked with everyone from Katy Perry and Justin Bieber to Nicki Minaj and Kanye West. Over the past year she's had the opportunity to travel the world, performing with Alicia Keys and on Janet Jackson's Unbreakable tour. Ever wonder what it's actually like to tour the world dancing? You're in luck! We asked Mah to keep a diary from her travels—read on for ALL the behind-the-scenes details and pics.
November 16, 2015 - Honolulu, Hawaii
It’s our last day in Hawaii and this trip has been so magical! We did our three Unbreakable shows with Janet Jackson and we’ve had a wonderful, full week here. It’s so great that we have so much time to explore and enjoy the island! The other dancers and I have done so many things that I feel like I live here. One super memorable moment: I crossed a point off my bucket list and went surfing for the first time! It was both terrifying and exhilarating, and I’m so glad I did it. My good friend Whyley (our dance assistant/Janet’s movement coach) is from Hawaii and he brought me to all the local surf spots, so I really got to experience the true Hawaiian way of surfing. Our creative director Gil Duldualo is also a native Hawaiian and he brought us to some awesome local places, too. This entire trip was filled with eating the best food, climbing waterfalls, riding waves, jumping into the ocean, hiking mountains and creating some of the best memories of my life. Mahalo Hawaii!! You have my heart. ❤️
November 21, 2015 - Tokyo, Japan
Today we have our show in Tokyo, Japan. This is my first time in Japan and I'm so excited to perform here. It’s well known that the Japanese are huge fans of the Jacksons, so there’s going to be such an amazing energy in the crowd tonight!
Japan is truly a unique place and I’m loving how different this place feels from home. I visited a beautiful and peaceful temple this morning, and I got to roam the streets of Tokyo. The food here is so fresh and delicious, and I’m absolutely obsessed with all the late-night ramen places. The shopping in Harajuku is phenomenal as well, and people have such incredible style in this city. The whole Japanese culture is so fascinating and completely different from the Western world. The people here really pay so much attention to providing excellent service, and the Japanese are so meticulous and detailed in everything they do. It’s a beautiful culture to experience and I’m so grateful to perform here with Miss Janet Jackson!
March 26, 2016 - Dubai, United Arab Emirates
I'm so excited to be in Dubai right now! And I’m even more excited to get on stage with everyone again. We’ve had a little bit of a break from the tour over the past few months, so it’s going to feel amazing to be onstage again. It’s really the most magical feeling performing with Janet and the tribe. Those girls are my sisters and I truly can’t imagine what this experience would’ve been like without them. It’s so clear that we were all meant to be a part of this Unbreakable show, and I’m so thankful for their spirits.
Dubai has been another amazing trip, and we really made sure we explored this place as much as we could. We visited some of the mosques, we went to the famous mall, we shopped in the souks and we went adventuring in the desert where we ran around sand dunes, went camel riding and rode ATVs. It was real-life Mario Kart for us girls! I’m so thankful to be with such a fun-loving group of females. We’re all so silly and are the types of people who want to live life to the fullest. It’s the best feeling to be able to travel and share incredible experiences with people you love—and on top of that we get to dance with someone as amazing as Janet Jackson! Life is so surreal sometimes.
May 22, 2016 - Milan, Italy
Now I’m in Milan, Italy, and I just finished the second day of rehearsals for Alicia Keys’ performance at the Union of European Football Associations Finals. I’m unbelievably excited to perform in a stadium for the first time in front of 80,000 people! The event is basically the Superbowl of Europe and everyone loves soccer here. Rehearsals have been going great and the wonderful Luam is choreographing the six-minute performance. There are 12 dancers and we're all getting along so well. We have 8-hour days in the studio, but it always flies by when you’re working with great people.
I got to explore the city a little bit in the morning before our rehearsal, too. I went to the Da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology and got to see some models of his incredible inventions. Then I went to the Navigli canal, which is known as the more historic part of Milan. The canal here is so beautiful and there are so many delicious restaurants in that area. I’m thoroughly enjoying my time in this city and I can’t wait to get onstage with Alicia Keys and the team!
(Photo by David Moriya)
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 on their profile pages, 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.
Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Steven Spielberg's much-anticipated remake of West Side Story—choreographed by Justin Peck, and starring a bevy of very good dancers—is in production, hooray! And that means it's finally time for us to get a look at the film's cast members in character. Let's break down the first photo from the project.