So here you go, "A to Z En Pointe." Did they miss any?
A TO Z EN POINTE www.youtube.com
So here you go, "A to Z En Pointe." Did they miss any?
A TO Z EN POINTE www.youtube.com
At just 20 years old, Sienna Lalau is the living definition of "dynamite dancer": bold, confident, almost addicting to watch, and, at her core, overflowing with pure passion. From her work with The Lab Studios to Video Music Award–winning choreography for BTS, there's no stopping this starlet from bringing her love of dance to the global stage.
"Dance is something that can truly connect people," Sienna tells Dance Spirit. "It's a universal language. We may not speak the same language physically, but when we dance, there's a connection where we understand each other on another level."
Photo by Joe Toreno
That sense of a universal language is a large part of the reason Sienna has felt so deeply moved by K-pop and its influence on the dance world. A longtime fan of the genre—a love so deeply rooted that Korean dramas have become her obsession throughout the pandemic—Sienna's first experience choreographing for a K-pop group was with Exo. With one day to put together the full routine ("I was up until about 5 am," she recalls), it was a stressful experience, but one that showed her the possibilities that could arise ahead.
That moment eventually led to her work with global superstars BTS, with whom she's developed a close relationship over the years. "Being in the same room with them is just so amazing to witness, because you instantly feel their passion and their energy, and you feel how much they care about their fans and their work," Sienna says. And as she talks about BTS, her voice lights up with clear admiration for what the group has accomplished, and for how proud she feels about the work she's created with them, as she rightfully should.
"It was so amazing to see her work with BTS and help bring them to life through her choreography," says Valerie Ramirez, founder and creative director of The Lab. "Even with a language barrier, it was pretty amazing to watch her work with them and see what she could do with their art form."
Sienna clearly has great synergy with the boys, given her similar sense of love and passion for dance and the art community as a whole. "Just seeing people that have never even heard about it before starting to listen to it now and starting to appreciate these different groups and the music itself, even if they don't speak the same language as us, is so wholesome to me," Sienna says. "And I think K-pop has literally just taken over the world."
Sienna's work with BTS largely stems from her roots at The Lab, a training studio for world-class dancers. She began working with The Lab back in November of 2016, while still living in her home state of Hawaii. Traveling back and forth between the island and California, Sienna began to grow her reputation with the organization before officially making the move to the West Coast in late 2017, after helping The Lab win Hip Hop International's Varsity Division.
"She's always been special and brilliant," says Ramirez. "Her ability to create with a team of peers at The Lab has allowed her creativity to fully bloom."
Making the move was far from an easy decision, though. Sienna's mom deeply wanted her to finish high school in Hawaii, but didn't want to discourage any opportunities that could come her way. And while moving to L.A.—or New York City—is often a young dancer's dream, it comes with an unspoken level of anxiety that Sienna experienced firsthand.
"I came up here by myself at first, and the first month alone was pretty tragic," she remembers.
Photo by Joe Toreno
Thankfully, Sienna's mom went out to L.A. a month later, but that time period—stripped from her family, home and everything that felt so natural to her—was an immense challenge in and of itself. In that moment, she turned to God for comfort.
"I knew that if I kept having faith, and I knew that if I just put my trust in God and really leaned on Him, I knew that he was going to provide for me, and he was going to take care of me, and I didn't have to worry about it," she says. And looking back now, that couldn't have been truer.
Sienna's work with The Lab quickly picked up steam, with headline-making moments popping up what felt like every couple of months. And still, it's impossible for her to pick a favorite. When pushed, though, she reveals that there's nothing as special as preparing for a competition with her fellow dancers.
"When we're preparing for a competition, it's so, so, so stressful, but it's helped me grow the most. The one thing that we really cherish at The Lab is our chemistry with each other," Sienna says, "There's days where we're literally just cleaning the same eight-count for hours, and still, the energy that you feel in the room is so amazing because everybody has each other's back. It really feels like a family."
She adds, "It feels like it's been a long ride, but I look back now, and it hasn't even been five years. But with the number of things that we've been able and blessed to do, it feels like the best crazy long ride."
And that ride is only getting started. Ramirez only sees success in Sienna's future, saying, "I think a world tour would be something that she is so ready to create for. She's ready to express herself on a higher level and a bigger magnitude of creativity."
Despite the ways 2020 has thrown the dance industry into a spiral, Sienna is staying positive and hopeful, knowing that the universal language of dance will never fade. Through the pandemic, she's been able to choreograph for Black Pink, Treasure, and for a visual album for "Changes" by Justin Bieber. And as if that wasn't spectacular enough, she also found the time to choreograph a special promo for March Madness to Selena Gomez's "Dance Again." Clearly, not even a global shutdown can stop Sienna's star from rising.
Like most of us, her go-to form of self-care during this troublesome time has been a Netflix binge. She's resting a lot more, as well, an uncommon thing for a dancer normally constantly on the move.
When it comes to the album she has on repeat, Ariana Grande's Positions instantly comes to mind. And when she's in the mood for some more K-pop, "Dynamite," by BTS, is the first to come on shuffle.
Photo by Joe Toreno
Looking ahead with so much up in the air, one thing is clear in Sienna's mind: Dance has never been so important. "Dancing in general is more important now than ever before, because it's something that makes people feel good at the end of the day and brings a lot of joy. And we all need that right now."
As dancers, we all have our vices—those little technique cheats that we know are incorrect, and we try our best to fix whenever we can remember...but at the end of the day, we just can't seem to banish them for good. After all, these cheats usually appear to help us: They can get our legs higher and our petit allégro a little faster, not to mention help us crank out that one extra rotation in a turn we dream about. Unfortunately, cheating proper technique also sets dancers up for a myriad injuries caused by improper alignment and undue stress on the body.
The good news: Every cheat can be beat. That is, when you know exactly what muscles and mobility pathways you need to strengthen in order to execute the step correctly. To help on that front, Amber Tacy, personal trainer and founder of the dancer-focused fitness community Dancers Who Lift, is here to guide you through a series of exercises designed to help you overcome the most common dancer cheats.
Amber's Note: If one leg is too challenging, complete the exercise with both legs simultaneously performing the relevés.
Split Squat Jump + Pause at Bottom
Amber's Note: Practice rolling through your feet as you take off and land.
Amber's Note: This mobilization should be a priority for any dancers who spend a majority of their time in "plantar flexion" (pointed feet, like on pointe or dancing in heels), as it gives your Achilles tendon the opportunity to safely go into a fully lengthened position.
Dance organizations across the country have been planning ways to celebrate Juneteenth since well before it was declared a federal holiday by Congress this week. June 19 marks the date on which news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Galveston, TX, more than two years after the Civil War was declared over and enslaved people in the U.S. freed. Here are eight class and performance offerings, some in-person and some online, celebrating Black joy and resilience that you can check out this weekend.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Rennie Harris' Lazarus
Paul Kolnik, Courtesy AAADT
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's online portal, Ailey All Access, launched a week of Juneteenth-inspired programming on Wednesday, June 16. It features an excerpt from Rennie Harris' tribute to the company's eponymous founder, Lazarus; a 1972 archival film of the legendary Judith Jamison performing the finale of Ailey's Cry, famously dedicated to "all Black women everywhere—especially our mothers;" and the rousing "Rocka My Soul" dance that closes Ailey's seminal Revelations. The program additionally features a "BattleTalk," putting artistic director Robert Battle in conversation with Opal Lee (the "Grandmother of Juneteenth"), Juneteenth Legacy Project co-chair Sam Collins and Legacy Project commissioned artist Reginald Adams. The program is free to watch on YouTube and will be available until June 22 at 7 pm ET.
In addition, Ailey Extension will offer a virtual Juneteenth Celebration: West African Class, diving into West African culture and technique fundamentals, with Maguette Camara on June 19 at 12 pm ET. The class is free but will be capped at 300 participants. Register at alvinailey.org.
Still from Ronan Mckenzie and Joy Yamusangie's WATA
Courtesy 651 Arts
New York City–based presenting organization 651 Arts launches its inaugural Juneteenth Celebration with (RE)VISION, a weekend of outdoor and online dance film screenings. Ronan Mckenzie and Joy Yamusangie's short film WATA draws on stories of the African and Caribbean water deity Mami Wata. Charles O. Anderson's (Re)current Unrest, making its long-awaited regional premiere, explores the history of Black art and protest. Marjani Forté-Saunders' Memoirs of a...Unicorn: BLUEPRINT shows the importance of the Black family structure to individual identity as it's been tested through history. And the premiere of Cyborg Heaven places the Black urban experience at its center through the lens of house ballroom culture, hip hop and queer radical poet traditions. The film series will be shown following a set from Qool DJ Marv at outdoor screenings in Downtown Brooklyn June 18–19 at 8 pm; tickets are free but advance registration is required. Virtual screenings will take place on June 20. 651arts.org.
Still from A Night at Club Alabam
Courtesy Central Avenue Dance Ensemble
A Night at Club Alabam takes its name from the dance venue that was known as the "Cotton Club of the West Coast." Presented by Los Angeles' Central Avenue Dance Ensemble, a dance group dedicated to teaching the history of Black vernacular jazz dance through performance reenactments, the online production is a tribute to a bygone era, a vintage nightclub show drawn from the dances of the 1930s and '40s—from tap to vernacular jazz, ballroom to flamenco, mambo to tango. The show premieres June 19 at 1 pm PT; the recording will be available on-demand for two weeks following the livestream. Tickets start at $15. centralavedance.com.
Joya Powell's Movement of the People Dance Company offers a full day of offerings and celebrations via Instagram Live. The day kicks off on June 19 at 10 am ET with a grounding exercise, followed by bass jam sessions, self guided massage, a conversation about allyship, a guided improv session, a pause for poetry and reflection, and, to wrap it all up, an invitation to "Dance it Out" with Powell herself. Info and offerings available on Instagram @mopdance.
Patrick Randak, Courtesy Casel
Directed by Torya Beard, Coming Together is a multidisciplinary Juneteenth celebration centering family and celebration. Dancer-choreographer Brian Harlan Brooks, street dance specialist Tomoe Carr and tap luminary Ayodele Casel are joined by DJ Justin Johnston and poet Fanta Ballo for this presentation by Lincoln Center's Concerts for Kids. The event will take place June 19 at 12 pm ET at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts' transformed outdoor campus. Tickets are free but must be secured via the TodayTix Lottery. lincolncenter.org.
Chicago's iconic tap crew M.A.D.D. Rhythms headlines a free outdoor performance at the Harold Washington Cultural Center alongside Blu Rhythm Crew, Broadway in Bronzeville and The Happiness Club. Live performances kick off at 1 pm CT, but early arrivals can catch a grocery giveaway at 11 am. maddrhythms.com.
M.A.D.D. Rhythms will also be making an appearance later in the day at the 2021 Chi Village Fest.
Victor Blanco, Courtesy NCCAkron
The culmination of Cara Hagan's Community Commissioning Residency at the National Center for Choreography at the University of Akron, this collection of short dance films explores ancestry and embodied relationships to space, as well as the reframing of history from the perspectives of women of color. Dancer-choreographers Ananya Chatterjea, Paloma McGregor and Tamara Williams collaborated with Hagan on the quartet of films; poet Jacinta V. White and dramaturg Sharon Bridgforth also worked with the cohort. The films premiere June 19 at 3 pm ET on NCCAkron's YouTube channel. The event is free, but you can RSVP at nccakron.org.
Step Afrika! in The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence
Jati Lindsay, Courtesy Step Afrika!
Step Afrika! offers a virtual triple bill of three newly-filmed works. Trane, excerpted from The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence and reimagined for film, takes inspiration from the Black women who made the Great Migration in the first half of the 20th century. Little Rock Nine combines stepping with contemporary takes on 1950s social dances to honor the nine Black students who enrolled in a segregated high school in 1957. The Movement showcases a cast of nearly 50 stepping at national monuments in Washington, DC, in tribute to the newfound momentum of Black Lives Matter. The program will debut June 19 at 8 pm ET on Step Afrika!'s YouTube channel and Facebook page. Pre-register for the free event at stepafrika.org.