Focus on Freelance: My Fashion Week Debut

Fashion Week—a semi-annual event where the world’s leading fashion designers converge to show off their latest creations—hit NYC last week. This year, I was thrilled to play a small part in it as one of ten dancing models in Rachel Roy’s latest Look Book, entitled “Move.” It turned out to be a wonderfully creative and memorable experience. I’m so happy to have performed with such a diversely talented group of people.

Fashion designers create look books as a way to showcase new lines. Traditionally, designers create the books using a collection of still photographs featuring models wearing their clothing. However, Rachel Roy decided to create a video “look book” instead, with dancers modeling her spring line. She recruited Jermaine Browne to choreograph the short film. I love that Roy chose dance to showcase her craft.

We filmed the piece in a single day at a beautiful studio in NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood this past December. As one of the dancing models, my job was to bring the clothes to life. In rehearsals, we played with the fabrics, figuring out how to make them flutter and stretch. Browne created stories revolving around each outfit. He asked us to portray a variety of moods and feelings.

If a piece of clothing felt restrictive, we worked around it. As a result, something beautiful and unexpected often came out. For example, when a long dress prohibited high extensions, we experimented with deep grand plies and stretched the fabric into interesting shapes. This experience was a great reminder that, as dancers, we should always try to use what we wear as a prop to express ourselves more fully.

During filming, we danced in front of a white wall for a clean look. The director wanted the vibe to be different from that of a typical music video where the camera jumps around a lot. He opted to shoot with a single stagnant camera for a smoother feel. For the dancers, it felt similar to performing in a theater, where the audience stays in one place.

The film will be playing in NYC taxis for the next few weeks, but you can check it out right now on Rachel Roy’s website. (I’m the one wearing a green dress in the film’s opening shot.) I hope you enjoy it!

(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

Cover Model Search
Photo by Erin Baiano

Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.

Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."

Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?

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Amblin Entertainment

Steven Spielberg's much-anticipated remake of West Side Storychoreographed by Justin Peck, and starring a bevy of very good dancers—is in production, hooray! And that means it's finally time for us to get a look at the film's cast members in character. Let's break down the first photo from the project.

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