Fana Tesfagiorgis Writes a Letter to Her Teenage Self

Photo by Ken Browar/Deborah Ory of NYC Dance Project, courtesy NYC Dance Project

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Fana Tesfagiorgis captivates audiences with her ethereal grace and powerful, commanding technique. A Madison, WI, native, she began training in ballet at Ballet Madison at age 5, and also studied at Interlochen Arts Academy during high school. Later, she graduated from the Ailey/Fordham program with a BFA in dance and a minor in journalism, and danced with companies including Ailey II, Continuum, Footprints, and Nimbus Dance Works. She joined AAADT in 2013. Catch her dancing with the company June 13–17 during its Lincoln Center season. —Courtney Bowers

Dear teenage self,

I can't thank you enough for the light that you are. You don't know it yet, but everything that you do helps to shape the woman that I am today. Thank you for having and keeping the biggest dreams you could dream. Thank you for believing that you can do it.

The habits that you're developing now may seem a little over-the-top to some, and sometimes even you think it's all in vain, but keep trusting in your process. It's OK that you have to try it one more time, or 10 more times, to get better. This diligence will help shape you. I love that when your casting doesn't match your wishes, you feel what you feel for a day, and then come back and learn the entire ballet. That eagerness will increase your experience far beyond your given opportunities.

Tesfagiorgis (center) in the 2004 production of "The Nutcracker" at Interlochen Center for the Arts (courtesy Tesfagiorgis)

I admire your support and respect for your peers. Thank you for treating guidance and wisdom from your mentors and teachers with care, and for writing things down in places where I can still read them when I need to. Thank you for listening to Mom when she assures you of your worth, intelligence, and beauty. And thank you for being and sharing your beautiful self, wholeheartedly and unapologetically.

All my love,

Fana Tesfagiorgis

A version of this story appeared in the May/June 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Letter to My Teenage Self: Fana Tesfagiorgis."

Dancer to Dancer
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.

Keep Reading Show less
Dance News
Including, of course, "Single Ladies" (Vevo)

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 dancy FX 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.

Keep Reading Show less
Dance Videos
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:

Keep Reading Show less
Dance News



Get Dance Spirit in your inbox