Dance News

"DWTS" Week 1: Season Premiere

It's baaaaaack!

"Dancing with the Stars" has returned for its 23rd season, with a lineup that includes two Olympians, award winning musical artists and many other people who are good at things besides ballroom dancing. Who will win the coveted Mirror Ball? Only time will tell, but American loves to see someone overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, experience personal growth and act a little bit silly. Place your bets now, people.

But before we get into the glittery goodness that was opening night, we have to spend a minute talking about the extremely weird Ryan Lochte protest that happened last night. Lots of people have lots of thoughts about what went down, but we'll focus on the dancing. Back to ballroom!

So, where's Mark Ballas? I refuse to be happy about anything until he has returned to the dance floor. Everything else was OK, I guess. The end.

Just kidding! James Hinchcliffe, I see you. If you can handle a NASCAR (Race car? Really fast car? Halp.) you can probably handle your body on the dance floor. I mean, think about the proprioception those drivers must have! And pro-partner Sharna Burgess can certainly bring out the best in anyone. Their foxtrot was perfectly acceptable for the season premiere, and Hinchcliffe was clearly trying to "be elegant." We're excited to see what he looks like in a couple of weeks, when that elegance comes more naturally.

Another pro who brings out the very best in her partners? Our former cover star Witney Carson! This season, she's dancing with Rob Van Winkle, aka Vanilla Ice. Their cha cha was simple but showed promise, considering that Vanilla Ice obviously has a few hip-hop moves up his sleeve and can probably advance to more rhythmically complex ballroom steps. And since you often have to stop, collaborate and listen (I'm sorry) in the dance studio, we're pretty sure these two could go far.

We've saved the best for last: DS favorite Laurie Hernandez and pro-partner Valentin Chmerkovskiy lit up the dance floor with a sparkling cha cha. The two were giggling before they even started dancing! Since Hernandez is obviously equipped to win the season, we'd love to see constructive criticism from the judges so that she has something to improve upon.

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The Conversation
The Dirt
Eric Politzer, courtesy Camille A. Brown

Camille A. Brown dancer Maleek Washington captivates audiences with his super-fluid, intricate contemporary moves and adept musicality. His exceptional technique and presence have also landed him gigs with artists including Sia and Rihanna. An NYC native, Washington grew up in the Bronx and trained at the Harlem School of the Arts, Broadway Dance Center, and LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts. He attended The Boston Conservatory on a full scholarship before accepting a job with CityDance Ensemble in Washington, DC. He's also worked with Kyle Abraham and his company Abraham.In.Motion. for four seasons, and became the first African-American male to perform in Sleep No More. Most recently, Washington performed in NBC's "Jesus Christ Superstar" live. Catch him dancing with the Camille A. Brown company this month at The Joyce Theater in NYC and at University of Arizona in Tucson—and read on for The Dirt!

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Site Network
The new ballet shoe emoji will be released later this year. Image via Emojipedia.

Imagine this scenario: You get a text from a friend just as you're heading into ballet class, and have to answer as quickly as possible. Now, if you were heading into a juggling class, or water polo match, or fencing practice, you'd be able to send a quick emoji in response. But alas, you're forced to type out a full sentence. Because, to the ballet world's collective frustration, There. Is. No. Ballet. Emoji. Until now...

According to Emojipedia, the site for all things emoji-related, a ballet shoe emoji is slated to come out later this year (the exact date hasn't been announced yet) as part of Emoji Version 12.0. The proposal came from Australia-based tech company manager and ballet fan Rüdiger Landmann. Landmann proposed three separate ballet emojis: a ballerina, a male ballet dancer and a pair of pointe shoes. Only the pointe shoe emoji was approved, and we'll be honest, it doesn't look like any pointe shoe we've ever seen. It's more like a pink loafer with ribbons attached. But we're trying not to complain, as this is definitely a (wobbly, given the shape of that shoe) step in the right direction.

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It's never too early to start thinking about your dream job. And summer intensives are an essential step down the road to achieving your dance dreams—whether you want to perform in music videos, ballet companies or Broadway shows.

With 19 programs across the U.S. (plus additional international programs) Joffrey Ballet School offers options for all types of dancers with all types of goals. Whatever you may be working toward this summer, there's a program that will help you get that much closer. We put together a guide to help you find the right one, based on your dream job:

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Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with dancers at Atlanta Ballet, says one of the most common questions she's asked is, "What should I do if I think my friend has an eating disorder?" Research shows that, compared to the general population, dancers are three times more likely to suffer from eating disorders. Experts agree that early detection and treatment is crucial. Unfortunately, while adults—like teachers and studio directors—should be keeping an eye out for warning signs, the people most likely to first notice a dancer's issues with food are her friends at the barre.

So what do you do if you suspect a friend is suffering? You don't want to be accusatory, but you know eating disorders are cause for great concern. At the very least, Kaslow advises you to trust your instincts and do something, whether it's confronting your friend directly or speaking to an adult. "If you're worried about someone, you should take it seriously," she says. "You can't be a bystander—the longer somebody waits to get an eating disorder under control, the harder it is."

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See photo credits below

What inspires you most as a dancer? What keeps you going on the days when the motivation just isn't there, and makes you feel like all the hard work, rejection and sacrifice is worth it for the pursuit of your dream? What makes you want to run into an empty studio and create something new?

Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner with over four decades of experience, often hangs posters with dance-related quotes on the walls of her studio, on everything from creativity to the hustle to the importance of teamwork. Sometimes the right words from dancers who have been there are just the push you need to spark your imagination and remind yourself why you love what you do.

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How To
San Francisco Ballet's Frances Chung in rehearsal (Erik Tomasson, courtesy San Francisco Ballet)

Even for natural turners, pirouettes from fifth can be a challenge. You need to take off from a small crossed position and stay straight over your supporting leg, from start to finish. "It's the hardest place to turn from, because you can't access your plié as much as you can from fourth," says Jennie Somogyi, former principal dancer with New York City Ballet and director of Jennie Somogyi Ballet Academy in Easton, PA. "I'm always telling my students to plié more!"

If you're struggling with pirouettes from fifth position or want to refine your approach, try these pro tips.

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Rising Stars
Sykes Photography, courtesy Keisa Glover

At the tender age of 9, Destiny Wimpye moved cross-country with her mom so she could train at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy. The leap of faith paid off: Destiny's spent summers training at the School of American Ballet, the Ailey School, and Pacific Northwest Ballet; performed for Michelle Obama at the White House; and danced beside Mariah Carey in a TV special for Disney. Now she's a full-time student at the Colburn Dance Academy under the direction of former New York City Ballet principals Jenifer Ringer and James Fayette, and it seems fated that Destiny will one day dance her dream role, Dewdrop in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. "I'm a jumper and a turner," Destiny says, "so I think it fits me pretty well."

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Just for Fun
Dancers are total brainiacs.

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Just for Fun

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Of course, we know a list like this is bound to be controversial—so if you disagree with our lineup, have at it in the comments!

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Dancer to Dancer
#8: Red pointe shoes are EVERYTHING.

We're just going to say it: Center Stage is the best dance movie of all time.

Seriously, though, is there anything better than this oh-so-quotable classic? Not only does it star some brilliant dancers, but it's also chock-full of wisdom. If you're a die-hard Center Stage fan (which, like, c'mon, we know you are), you'll be familiar with these 8 life lessons straight from the movie.

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Dear Katie
Erin Baiano

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB 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've been battling Achilles tendinitis for months—it never seems to get better. How can I deal with it? Could there be an issue with my technique that's causing the problem?

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Health & Body
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Ever since starting her professional career, Broadway dancer Amber Ardolino has cupped. Using the holistic wellness practice to improve performance and take care of her body, Ardolino cupped before it was cool—even beating the 2016 Rio Olympics' purple polka-dotted athletes to the punch. But Ardolino's only one dancer who has put this therapy to regular use. Dance Spirit asked Carrie Gaerte, PT, DPT, ATC, and performance rehab specialist with St. Vincent Sports Performance who works with Indianapolis' Dance Kaleidoscope; and Thomas Droge, Chinese-medicine doctor and founder of Pathfinder Institute in NYC, to explain the ins and outs of cupping therapy.

Amber Ardolino in "Hamilton" (courtesy Ardolino)

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4 hiring powers-that-be told DS their "do's" for dressing to audition.

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Dance Videos
Via YouTube

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Set to Post Malone's "Sunflower," the lead single from the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse soundtrack, the vid features the dance crew's ever-fabulous men—who appear to have Spidey senses, because seriously, how else do they stay down-to-the-fingertips in sync?—performing Vinh Nguyen's super-tight choreography, with an overlay of comic-book-esque graphics by editor Jonathan Shih.

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Cover Story
Photo by Nathan Sayers

Chloe Misseldine has every reason to be nervous as she and her partner run through the challenging wedding pas de deux from Don Quixote. Their performance is just days away and the two American Ballet Theatre Studio Company dancers have only had a week to prepare. Add to that the fact that ABT principal Gillian Murphy, one of the world's most famous ballerinas, is at the front of the studio taking notes.

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