Black Swans

A week from Friday, Birmingham Royal Ballet soloist Céline Gittens will dance Odette/Odile in the company's production of Swan Lake. Gittens is a gorgeous dancer, lyrical and elegant—she'll make a perfect swan. She'll also make history, as the first black dancer to perform the ballerina role in the UK.

There's been a lot of discussion recently about why there are so few black dancers in ballet, with critics arguing both that it is and that it isn't due to discrimination within the field. (For the record, neither Gitten nor her partner—BRB first soloist Tyrone Singleton, who's also black—think discrimination is an issue). The role of Odette, with its white tutu and even, occasionally, white body makeup, has been a particular touchstone in the debate.

So next Friday will be a significant moment, for Gittens and for ballet. And judging by this video of Gittens rehearsing Swan Lake with Singleton, it'll be a beautiful moment, too.

(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
Madison Jordan and Jarrod Tyler Paulson brought their real-life romance to the audition stage. (Adam Rose/FOX)

It's usually right around the third or fourth week of "So You Think You Can Dance" audition rounds that we start itching for the live shows. Sure, the auditions are fun, inspiring, and entertaining, but at a certain point, we reach audition saturation. (And the live shows are just so good and feature so much more Cat Deeley.)

All that said, Nigel and co. kept things spicy this week, so our attention remained firmly glued to the screen. (It's been 16 seasons—who are we to doubt Nigel Lythgoe, sir?) Here's how it all went down.

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Photo by Erin Baiano

When it comes to injury-prone body parts, knees reign supreme for dancers. But a little strengthening can go a long way in preventing painful outcomes. We turned to Dirk Hartog, a physical therapist with Westside Dance Physical Therapy in NYC, for three exercises that'll support and stabilize your knees.

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