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
Darius Hickman and Taylor Sieve in Travis Wall's "It Takes a Lot to Know a Man" (Adam Rose, courtesy FOX)

As an audience member, it's easy to overlook how much work went into the performance onstage—a dancer's job is to make it look effortless, after all. But every pro has tackled a role that made them doubt themselves, whether by testing their stamina, pushing them out of their comfort zones, or touching on their vulnerabilities and insecurities. Here, six dancers share some of their toughest roles, how they made it through, and what they learned.

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Dancer to Dancer

Traveling is just par for the course when you're a dancer. But spending hours 35,000 feet in the air on a plane can have serious side effects once you land. Here, we break down the biggest pre- and postflight dos and don'ts to help you feel ready for that first summer intensive class the minute you leave the airport.

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Health & Body
Lisa Taylor/Visualized Memories LLC, courtesy Liam Redford

Fearlessly expressive, triple threat Liam Redford is undeniably Broadway-bound. But the 13-year-old isn't waiting until he's older to step into the spotlight. Liam's already played one of his dream roles, the title character in Billy Elliot: The Musical, in five regional productions of the show, beginning with his debut at the Grand Theater in Williamstown, NJ, and concluding at the Opera House Theatre Company in Wilmington, NC, this past summer. In less than two years, Liam performed as Billy exactly 100 times, but he says he never got tired of the role, finding something new to explore and appreciate in every show (can you say #professional?). A seasoned storyteller, Liam hasn't just excelled in the role of Billy–most recently, he performed in Fun Home at the Front Throw Theatre Company in Philadelphia, while continuing to train in dance, voice and acting.

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Rising Stars
Courtesy Anna Marchisello

If you're in high school, working after school/on the weekends/over the summer may be a reality you're not keen to face. After all, you've got enough to worry about: homework, rehearsals, technique classes, and maybe even college applications. But a job doesn't have to mean babysitting or folding sweaters at Madewell. Instead, you can develop the same communication, organizational, and leadership skills—not to mention earn a little green—by working at the very place you likely already spend the most time: your dance studio.

Teaching is probably the first studio job that comes to mind, but there are other roles that can be invaluable to your eventual career. "I grew up training hard as a dancer and studying visual arts, but I was also academic and analytical—I loved the rigorous side of school," says dancer Anna Marchisello, a former student at CC & Co. Dance Complex in Raleigh, NC, who has assisted Stacey Tookey and Kirsten Russell and works as a production manager in NYC with Jonathan Berger.

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Dancer to Dancer
First-year Radio City Rockette Mara Ranson (center) in rehearsal (Carl Scheffel, courtesy MSG Photo)

Every year, hundreds of dancers audition for a chance to become a Radio City Rockette. Only a lucky few make the cut—this season, there are 13 newbies on the line—but many of them go on to perform with the Rockettes for years. Dance Spirit had the chance to listen in as first-year Rockette Mara Ranson asked 10-year veteran Corey Whalen all her burning questions about what it's really like to dance in the world's most famous kickline.—as told to Helen Rolfe

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Dancers Dish
Photo by Erin Baiano

Moody lighting streams across a dance studio. As a pop anthem blasts, a supergroup of strong, confident dancers attacks intricate choreography with finesse and poise. But this isn't the latest class video to achieve viral status—it's footage of the world-famous Radio City Rockettes at work.

For almost a century, the Rockettes have been celebrated for their signature style of precision dance, which combines ballet, tap, and classic jazz to awe-inspiring effect. These 80 women (two casts of 36, plus four swings/dance captains) have always been the undisputed stars of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which is seen by over a million fans each year.

But the Rockettes are out to start some new traditions, too. When opening night of the 87th season of the Spectacular arrives later this month, the curtain will rise on one of the most diverse kicklines in Rockette history—including an unprecedented 13 fresh faces. Meet four of them here.

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Cover Story

Savion Glover is one of the biggest names in the dance world, and perhaps the biggest in the tap world. The trailblazing hoofer's hard-hitting, rhythmically intricate style has fundamentally altered the tap landscape.

Glover is also a master teacher. But during his many years on the scene, he's never appeared regularly at a major dance convention. That is, until this season: Glover is now teaching at JUMP Dance Convention, scheduled to appear at approximately 15 more cities on its 2019–2020 tour.

We talked with JUMP director Mike Minery, himself a gifted hoofer, about working with a living legend—and how Glover is already changing the convention class game.

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Tap
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 think I have an eating disorder. My eating habits have been getting worse (binging and purging, fasting, all that) since I moved away from home to study dance. I know it's bad for me, but I haven't had any physical side effects that've affected my technique. I'm worried that if I tell someone, I'll be forced to stop dancing so I can recover. What should I do?

Emilie

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Dear Katie
Getty Images

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the moment the clock strikes midnight on Halloween, the holiday season has begun. And for dancers, that means only one thing: It's officially full-on Nutcracker time.

Sure, we've been in rehearsals since September, but it's not until ~spooky~ season ends that we can really start getting in the Nutcracker mood. And as the holidays kick into high gear, things around the studio start getting a little crazy. Here are the nine moods every dancer experiences at least once during the annual Nutcracker rush.

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Just for Fun
Kylie Morton Berry performing (Richard Calmes, courtesy Berry)

When Latrice Gregory was hired to dance in a music video for the TV show "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," she found herself in a surprisingly unfamiliar situation. The video was for show creator Rachel Bloom's song "Heavy Boobs," and "of all the dancers, I had the smallest breasts!" Gregory laughs. "I'm used to being the largest in a group. I actually felt a little inadequate!"

Dancing backup in a comedic ode to being well-endowed may have been a niche job, but Gregory has had no trouble finding mainstream work. A former Knicks City Dancer, Gregory has also worked with Beyoncé, Jennifer Hudson, and Cardi B, as well as on the shows "Fresh Off the Boat" and "Jane the Virgin." Her resumé is proof that, despite the dance world's traditional straight-and-slim aesthetic, there's room for other body types to shine.

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Dancer to Dancer
Getty Images

Let's be frank: Most dancewear isn't designed with larger breasts in mind. But that paradigm is—slowly—changing.

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Dancer to Dancer
Kylie Morton Berry in performance (Abigail Werner, courtesy Berry)

Kylie Morton Berry, principal dancer and ballet mistress with the Appalachian Ballet Company, shares her story.

I developed breasts late—around age 15—but it happened fast. By senior year of high school, I was wearing a DD-cup. I didn't grow or gain weight anywhere else, so I was very uncomfortable. I felt out of proportion. Also, I'm hypermobile, and having that much weight on the front of my body gave me lower back pain.
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Dancer to Dancer
Students in class at the Chicago High School for the Arts (Mark Ballogg, courtesy Chicago High School for the Arts)

Choosing a college dance program is a super-high-stakes decision: You're trying to set yourself up for career success, and you're making a huge financial commitment. So it's no wonder the process feels rife with pitfalls. Here are the seven biggest mistakes dancers make in their quest for the perfect school.

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Higher Ed

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