How Much Can Your Dancing Improve in a Year?

In dance, progress is usually measured in infinitesimal degrees. Over the course of a month, you were able to get your leg a teeny-tiny bit higher in arabesque! It only took you four years to finally get that triple pirouette! Because it's hard to see ourselves improving over such long periods of time, it's easy to get discouraged.

That's why we need role models like Karen X. Cheng.

One year ago, Karen wasn't a dancer. Today she is. Not the best dancer we've ever seen, sure, but impressively good.

Karen danced like crazy during her year of training, taking classes and learning from YouTube videos. She also practiced pretty much everywhere—at bus stops, on subway trains and "in line at the grocery store." (Sounds familiar, right?)

The best part is that Karen took regular videos tracking her progress over the course of the year. She assembled all those clips into a time-lapse film that's truly inspiring: You see her going from super awkward (day four) to fluid and controlled (day 365).


The next time you feel like you're not getting anywhere in class, take a look at Karen's video. All those tiny little steps forward, those miniature victories that take weeks of sweat and tears to achieve? Well, they add up. And someday, they'll add up to the dancer you want to be.

(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

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

Dear Katie,

When I sit with the soles of my feet together, my knees easily touch the floor, and most exercises to improve turnout are easy for me. But when I'm actually dancing, my turnout is terrible, especially on my standing leg. Why doesn't my flexibility translate to turnout?


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Dear Katie
Via Twitter

Would that we could all live in Taylor Swift's Pride-topia, booty-popping with Todrick Hall and sharing snow cones with Adam Rippon in our rainbow-flag-bedecked RV park. But much as we're loving "You Need to Calm Down" and other similarly upbeat celebrations of Pride month, this is also a time to recognize the battles the members of the LGBTQIA+ community have fought—and are still fighting. That's one of the reasons why "I'm Gay," a new dance video by Eugene Lee Yang of The Try Guys, is so important.

The dark, deeply personal video is Yang's coming-out moment. We see Yang being rejected by his family, condemned by a preacher, and attacked by a hostile mob after attempting to express himself as a gay man. Though not a professional dancer (as we found out in "The Try Guys Try Ballet"), Yang is a gifted mover; he choreographed the project himself, and gathered a group of talented performers to bring the story to life.

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