It's no secret that "So You Think You Can Dance" alum Carly Blaney—who's now Sidekick program director for 24 Seven Dance Convention, and who recently performed at the Grammys—can turn for days. We needed to know just how she does it. So we caught up with the pirouette princess to find out her tricks for becoming #turngoals. Give them a try!
1. When you prepare for a turn, move your right arm (or left arm if you're doing a left pirouette) into second position like you're wiping off a dinner table, and plié deeper. As you use resistance to swipe your arm across the invisible table, your lats are forced to engage, adding stability and strength to the core of your body.
2. As you turn, pull your left arm (or right arm) in with intention. Quickly pulling this second arm in adds the proper amount of momentum without forcing your turn into a whirlwind that will pull you off balance.
3. Squeeze your belly button into your spine like you have to go to the bathroom (or you're wearing mom jeans). That will pull your tailbone down, making your body more compact—and the more compact you make yourself, the more turns you'll be able to do.
4. Focus on pulling up rather than making a circle. As you lift toward the sky while simultaneously pushing your standing leg into the ground, you'll find a balancing sweet spot to keep you turning.
5. Use your spot effectively. Spotting is the final piece of the puzzle—it allows all of these other tricks to work. If your spot is inconsistent, too slow, or too quick, it'll be difficult to save your turns. Make sure your eyes don't wander away from your chosen focal point.
Carly Blaney performing at the 2017 Grammys (via Blaney's Instagram)
Tricks aside, Blaney says it's important to remember that turning is a skill you develop over time. "Turns take work and practice," she says. "Don't try to go for eight your first time. Start with perfecting a single, and then move from there."
Her Favorite Turning Passage
Two à la seconde turns into a bunch of pirouettes that slowly pull down into skater turns with a hold at the end. (Check out this clip from one of her "SYTYCD" solos to see exactly what she's talking about.)
Her Proudest Turning Moment
"When I tried out for Arizona State's dance team, I auditioned on a very slippery gym floor," Blaney says. "At one point, they had us go across the floor and improv. I decided to do a turn, and I honestly think it was the most turns I've ever done because it was just that slippery. I remember being like, 'Oh my gosh! I actually did pretty well there!' It was the best."
Gabriel Figueredo in a variation from Raymonda. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.
This week, over 1,000 young hopefuls gathered in New York City for the Youth America Grand Prix finals, giving them the chance to compete for scholarships and contracts to some of the world's top ballet schools and companies. Roughly 85 dancers made it to the final round at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater on Wednesday. Today, the 20th anniversary of YAGP came to a close at the competition's awards ceremony. Read on to find out who won!
After a string of ballet-company rejections, Jennifer Sydor (here in Laura Peterson's "Failure") found success in other areas of the dance world. (Stephen Delas Heras, courtesy Jennifer Sydor)
In her senior year at Butler University, Jennifer Sydor auditioned for more than a dozen regional ballet companies—and got a string of "no, thank you" responses. "I have an athletic build, and my movement quality isn't the typical ballet aesthetic," Sydor says. "But I'd been laser-focused on ballet. When I didn't get a ballet contract, I was heartbroken."
Her one job offer came from Kim Robards Dance, a small modern company based in Aurora, CO. After attending KRD's summer intensive, Sydor ended up accepting a yearlong position with the troupe. "I was relieved and happy to begin my career," she says. She's been working as a contemporary dancer ever since.
In the dance world, rejection is part of the package. That doesn't make it any more pleasant. But whether you didn't get the Nutcracker role of your dreams or you weren't picked for a job despite feeling like you aced the audition, you can emerge from even the most gut-wrenching "no" smarter and stronger.
Ballet West principal Beckanne Sisk as Kitri (Luke Isley, courtesy Ballet West)
Guess who's baaaaack?! Your resident Dance Spirit astrologers! And on the eve of the Youth America Grand Prix awards ceremony, we thought it was the perfect time to pair each zodiac sign with a variation commonly seen during the competition. After many painstaking hours spent researching, consulting the stars, and staring wistfully into the sky, we compiled our data and present you with the definitive list of each star sign as a YAGP variation! As we said last time, don't @ us if you're not happy with your pairing—the stars don't lie, baby!