For 18-year-old aspiring ballerina Michelle Quiner, dance is a family affair: All five of her sisters (out of eight siblings total!) dance seriously.
And coming from a big dance family definitely has its perks. Every day, after their homeschooling is finished, Michelle and her sisters motivate each other to work on technique exercises and stretching before heading to North Jersey School of Dance Arts for classes. "It's nice to have someone to talk to all the time," Michelle says. "There's always someone around who understands."
When she was younger, Michelle tried everything from skating to gymnastics, but she inevitably felt the pull of the ballet studio. "I loved pointe shoes so much that I would put a bunch of paper cups together on my toes and pull a sock over them, so I could feel like I was wearing real pointe shoes," Michelle says. At 11, that passion helped her score the role of Clara in the
Radio City Christmas Spectacular in Nashville, TN. But she also studied tap, contemporary and jazz, and that translated to multiple victories on the non-ballet comp circuit.
"Michelle is a self-motivated student who understands that success is contingent upon hard work. When she walks through the studio door, she leaves the world behind and works diligently. And she's so passionate about dance. In rehearsals, I see her heart surface as she takes the viewer into her soul, and allows them to become part of the movement." —Christine Taylor, executive director at North Jersey School of Dance Arts
These days, Michelle trains intensively in the Vaganova style—though she continues to take classes in other genres, and attends convention classes when she has time. Thanks to her diverse background, she's that rare ballet dancer with not only picture-perfect technique, but also an effortless quality to her dancing; each movement is at once ethereal and rooted in the ground. She's the un-bunhead who can place in the Top 10 at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals (as she did in 2015)
and earn first place, and second place in the contemporary category, at Youth America Grand Prix (as she did in 2014).
Michelle hopes to dance in a professional ballet company one day—and she's very close to that dream. This fall, she'll enroll at The Washington School of Ballet on full scholarship, and she's being considered for a trainee position at The Washington Ballet. But she's open to whatever opportunities come her way. "I just love performing and sharing my love of dance with an audience," she says. "It makes me so happy."
Birthday: April 17, 1999 Hometown: Long Valley, NJ Favorite dancers: Gillian Murphy, Gisele Bethea and Catherine Hurlin. "Gisele has amazing feet." Dance crush: Kyle Robinson. "My sisters and I think he's so cute!" Favorite food: "I'm really obsessed with chocolate. I can go pretty crazy for anything chocolate." If she could have any superpower, it'd be… "I don't have the best memory, so I would choose to have an amazing memory so I could learn and remember all the details of combinations." Strangest thing in her dance bag: A wrinkled NYC subway map If she weren't a dancer, she'd be… "A hairstylist or a baker" Biggest fear: Sharks Go-to stress relievers: "Crocheting, baking, and reading Dance Spirit."
School of American Ballet students (Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy SAB)
Do you have a "Strictly Ballet"–sized hole in your heart? Good news: The upcoming docuseries "On Pointe" just might fill it.
The School of American Ballet is teaming up with Imagine Documentaries and DCTV for the project. Though it's not yet clear where "On Pointe" will air, we do know that it'll follow talented SAB students preparing for professional ballet careers—much as Teen Vogue's popular "Strictly Ballet" web series did back in the day. But "On Pointe" marks the first time documentary filmmakers have been allowed access to the school, and it sounds like it'll paint an even more complete picture of the dancers' lives inside and outside the studio.
Choreographer Bob Fosse's signature style—with its jazz hands, inverted knees, and slouched shoulders—is still a huge influence in the dance world (and, thanks to the gloriously dancyFX series "Fosse/Verdon," the TV world). But while you know to expect plenty of Fosse-isms during a stage performance of Chicago or Sweet Charity, Fosse's legacy has also seeped into pop music culture, inspiring the likes of Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. Here are just six of the many music videos that reference Fosse's iconic works.
Gabrielle Hamilton in John Heginbotham's dream ballet from Oklahoma! Photo by Little Fang Photo, courtesy DKC/O&M
Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.
The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, extraordinary ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.
As usual, several Dance Spirit faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list: