Erin Baiano

In our "Dear Katie" series, Miami City Ballet soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

I'm confused about what my hips are supposed to do during grand battements and développés à la seconde. My teacher is always telling me to "drop the hip," but how is that physically possible when your leg is higher than 90 degrees? Even in photos of professional dancers with gorgeous extension, I see a raised hip on the working side. Am I misunderstanding something?

Marie

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Dear Katie
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2020 is almost here—and with a new year (a new decade, even!) comes new resolutions. What are your dance ambitions for the upcoming year? Improve your technique? Build your social presence? Jumpstart your pro career? All of the above? To help you kick off 2020 strong, we've made a list of 9 dance resolutions that are (literally) #goals.

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Just for Fun
Seán Curran leading class at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts (Dylan Kenseth, courtesy NYU Tisch School of the Arts)

Towards the end of your first semester as a dance student, you'll participate in something that resembles an exam. Whether your school calls it a jury, a placement, an evaluation, an assessment, or an appraisal, the structure remains roughly the same: You take class in front of all of your dance professors, they scribble furiously on a clipboard (that you wish you could read), and you wait anxiously for their feedback.

And while that anxiety is totally understandable, it's typically misplaced. Evaluations and exams aren't designed to intimidate or scare you, and they definitely don't determine the entire future of your dancing career. But in case you're still feeling a little nervous about the whole process, we spoke with educators at three major dance colleges about how you can be best prepared.

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Higher Ed
Aaron Pegg, courtesy Alison Stroming

Don't let her crazy follower count (84K!) or her Insta-ready smile fool you: Alison Stroming is not just another dance-fluencer. Yes, she posts gorgeous fashion photo-shoots and totally personable YouTube videos, but Stroming is also a serious ballerina, with the resumé to prove it. Stroming trained at the School of American Ballet and American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She's danced with the Alberta Ballet, Ballet San Jose, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Today, Stroming lives in L.A., and continues to dance, model, and perform as a guest artist all around the world. She also recently founded her own dancewear line, AS Dancewear, and a mentorship initiative for young dancers. —Cadence Neenan

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Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Erin Baiano

In our "Dear Katie" series, Miami City Ballet soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

I love dancing in The Nutcracker, but I feel like my training gets totally sidelined during Nut season. What can I do to make sure I'm still progressing (and will be in good shape for summer program auditions!)?

Jenny

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Dear Katie
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Nutcracker season is upon us, which means we're all basically camping out at the theater. And even after a full warm-up and make-up session, there's still a LOT of downtime backstage. Instead of scrolling through your Instagram feed for the millionth time, try one of these more productive (or at least different!) ways to beat backstage boredom.

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Just for Fun
Jordan Matter, courtesy Phoenix Sutch

With her confident smile, insane flexibility, and razor-sharp execution, Phoenix Sutch instantly commands every stage she sets foot on. At just 13 years old, Phoenix has already worked with her dance idols Andy Pellick and Joey Dowling, and has won the titles of National Mini Female Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals in 2017 and First Runner-Up National Junior Female Outstanding Dancer in 2019. She's also a BLOCH Young Artist and an Ambassador for Jo + Jax.

The young dancer definitely isn't slowing down anytime soon: She plans to continue training, especially in ballet, and attending conventions around the country.

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Rising Stars
Christine Shevchenko and Cory Stearns in Gemma Bond's "The Giving" (Rod Brayman, courtesy Bond)

Gemma Bond's rise as a choreographer has been not meteoric but steady, characterized by constant creativity and commitment to her craft. Her style is informed by her dancing career—she performed in the corps de ballet of two of the world's most renowned companies, the Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. Because of this, she says, "I tend to do more of a company piece. You can never really say there's one principal couple." Bond began choreographing at age 13, in the Royal's Sir Kenneth MacMillan Choreographic Competition. More recently, she's created works for ABT, The Washington Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, New York Theatre Ballet, and others. Her ballets have been performed at the Joyce Theater, Jacob's Pillow, the Youth America Grand Prix gala, and the Erik Bruhn Competition. You can see a world premiere of Bond's new work for the National Ballet of Cuba at the International Ballet Festival in the fall of 2020. –Cadence Neenan

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Choreography
London Contemporary Dance School summer intensive students in class (Camilla Greenwell, courtesy LCDS)

More and more dance students are starting to consider training options outside the U.S. Studying abroad allows dancers to immerse themselves in different dance styles, not to mention different cities and cultures. And in some cases, the application process is surprisingly easy. Here's how you could stand to benefit from international study—and some real talk about how to navigate the logistical challenges.

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Dancer to Dancer

We have a Thanksgiving tradition here at Dance Spirit: Every November, I ask my fellow editors to send me a list of the dance performances/artists/trends/miscellany from the past year that made them grateful to be part of this wild, wonderful little world. Because we're always looking for excuses to celebrate all things dance—and what better excuse than #GratitudeSeason?

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Just for Fun
Photo by Erin Baiano

In our "Dear Katie" series, Miami City Ballet soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

When on pointe, I find it very hard to maintain my turnout, especially in first and second position. If I try to force my heels forward, I can't get over the box. It's very frustrating. Is there anything I can do to fix this?

Spring

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Dear Katie
Sarah Reasons performing a solo at The Dance Awards (courtesy TDA)

When Kylie Peitz, an independent dancer in West Palm Beach, FL, took the stage to perform "The Impossible Dream" last year, she wasn't just dancing another competition solo. A couple years earlier, Peitz had left her studio for financial reasons, but she didn't want to let that stop her from working towards becoming a professional dancer. The solo depicted her post-studio journey through movement. "That was basically the story of me leaving my studio and saying that this is a dream I want to pursue," she says. "You can tell me that I'll never make it on my own, but I'm still going to push as hard as I can to reach my dream." She performed the solo at several competitions, winning titles like Top Solo and Teen Miss Hype at Hype Regionals, and First Overall Elite Teen Solo at Fusion Nationals.

Going independent has helped Kylie broaden her training and get more serious about her goals as a dancer. But while competing independently allows a certain level of flexibility and freedom, it can also mean having less of a support system. If you're thinking about giving it a shot, here are a few things to know.

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Competition
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Sure, our Instagram bios permanently read, "I can't, I have dance." But let's be honest: We love it. All those grueling hours at the studio? They're also pretty wonderful.

Since it's the season of gratitude, we decided to make a list of nine moments every dancer is grateful for.

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Just for Fun
Erin Baiano

In our "Dear Katie" series, Miami City Ballet soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

I'm serious about dancing, but I'm also a good academic student. I'm 15 now, and it's getting really hard to balance my intensive dance training with honors classes and the homework that comes with them. I don't want to pick a path just yet—I'm not sure if I want to try to dance professionally, or if I want to go to college, or if I want to do both! Is there a way to balance everything without cutting way back on either dance or schoolwork?

Alex

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Dear Katie

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