Melanie Spanko and partner performing (Lori Bush, courtesy Spanko)

If you've ever noticed the flirty curl of a wrist in a cha-cha or the elegant swoop of an arm in a waltz, then you know how arm styling can elevate ballroom dance, bringing nuanced character to every step. But dancers new to ballroom—especially those already trained in ballet's classical port de bras—might find it surprisingly tricky to master the details of hand and arm styling. Here's how to use your upper body like a ballroom pro.

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Ballroom

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
"The 12 Days of Christmas," featuring the Radio City Rockettes (courtesy MSG Photo)

Dream of performing the Radio City Rockettes' ultra-precise choreography? You'll need to learn some ultra-specific terminology! We asked four first-year Rockettes—fresh from learning all that choreo—to define a few useful phrases from their "secret" language.

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How To
Megan Mizanty (in black) teaching at Wilson College (Kendra Tidd, courtesy Mizanty)

It seems like it should go without saying: Choreographers create on dancers…right? Right—except when they don't. Depending on your career path as a choreographer, you may end up working with nondancers frequently. Actors, models, and even pop stars often lack the level of dance training that makes performing movement look effortless. But think of your job as an exciting challenge, and you'll be able to create something that looks great on everybody involved.

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How To
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 dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!


Dear Katie,


Whenever I raise my leg higher than 90 degrees in à la seconde, it moves diagonally in front of me—I can't keep it flat to the side. How can I fix this?


Lexi

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Dear Katie
Nothing calls for an all-out, all-around-the-house celebration dance like getting into your dream school—early. (Getty Images)

It's that time of year for high school seniors: early decision/early action season. Your guidance counselor at school might have already recommended these options to you—but just as the college admissions process is more complicated for dancers overall, you'll also need to think carefully before deciding whether or not you want to jump ahead of the regular admissions timeline. To help you decide, we enlisted the help of Dr. Elizabeth Stone (executive director of Campanile college admissions counseling) and Sara Pourghasemi (director of college counseling at the Professional Performing Arts School in NYC).

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How To
Hip-hop teacher Gev Manoukian talking with dancers at West Coast Dance Explosion (courtesy Manoukian)

Whether it's your very first dance convention or you're a seasoned weekend warrior, you're undoubtedly hoping to catch the eyes of your favorite teachers, and dreaming of getting pulled onstage to demonstrate a combo. With hundreds of other talented dancers in the room, however, it's easy to feel (and actually get) lost in the crowd. We asked three veteran teachers on the convention circuit for tips on how to best grab their attention.

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How To
Champion ballroom dancers Katia Hrstkova Bartunek and Lukas Bartunek (courtesy Dance With Me USA, LLC)

When you think "improvisational dance," the image that comes to mind probably doesn't involve satin heels and a ballgown. But in the ballroom dance world, knowing how to improv is key to success as a social and competitive dancer.

Why? Because tons of unpredictable obstacles arise on the ballroom floor, where multiple couples dance at the same time. Knowing how to improvise helps ballroom dancers navigate traffic by changing direction, increasing or decreasing the length of their steps, or slowing down the speed of a dip until the next couple moves out of the way. Improvising alone is one thing, though; improvising with a partner is another entirely.

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Ballroom
Pacific Northwest Ballet's Elizabeth Murphy and Seth Orza in Alexei Ratmansky's Don Quixote (photo by Angela Sterling, courtesy PNB)

In theory, partnered pirouettes should be easier than regular pirouettes, right? After all, there are not one, but two of you there to make lots of smooth, glorious rotations happen. But in practice, they can be…complicated. (Just ask Kristi Capps, ballet master at Kansas City Ballet, who once broke her ring finger on her partner's chest during a whip turn.)

Thankfully, partnered pirouettes can be exciting—and injury-free—if you and your partner work together to coordinate your timing and spacing. Here are a few simple rules to help you and your partner find common ground.

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Ballet
Getty Images

Summer is almost at an end. And for dancers, that can mean the onset of PSIS: Post-Summer Intensive Sadness. We learn so much during our weeks away in dance wonderland that it's no surprise we feel a bit let down once we're back home. How can you maintain the training momentum you built at your intensive? Here's how to keep the bliss of summer sessions going in the new season.

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How To
Children in San Francisco Ballet's "Nutcracker" (Erik Tomasson, courtesy San Francisco Ballet)

All dancers, from Broadway performers to avant-garde artists, are storytellers. The minute they start moving, they begin to convey character, emotion, and plot—even if they're performing an ostensibly plotless work. "Think about the famous Martha Graham contraction," says Broadway veteran Arbender Robinson. Even though it's an abstract movement, "each contraction has meaning."

But acting doesn't come naturally to every dancer. Some fall victim to over-the-top facial expressions, which can feel forced. Others struggle to free their minds from the details of technique or choreography. What separates an authentic storyteller from a dancer who does too much—or too little? Training and time can make all the difference.

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How To
Bharatanatyam dancer Sarika Bhattacharjee (photo by David Glasofer, courtesy Bhattacharjee)

Happy International Dance Day, everyone! Since 1982, this delightful holiday has been celebrated worldwide each April 29th. Why April 29th, you ask? It's the birthday of Jean-Georges Noverre (1727–1810), who's often credited as the creator of modern ballet.

This year, we thought we'd mark the occasion by rounding up some of our favorite stories about world dance. Because we can think of no better occasion to learn more about the beautiful, rich traditions of styles like nihon buyo and bharatanatyam.

(By the way—don't confuse International Dance Day with National Dance Day, which is coming up on September 19th. More days to celebrate dance, hooray!)

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World Dance
NYC-based dancer Maya Stripling rocking her natural coils (Nathan Sayers)

Tired of tangled or flyaway tresses? Try these three easy, flattering, class-ready styles to keep your natural curls and coils out of your face.

Consultant: Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.

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Beauty
One of dancer Kristi Griffith's fitness shots (Wes Klain, courtesy Griffith)

Scrolling through your Instagram feed, you probably notice tons of awe-inspiring dance photos: a penché in front of a waterfall, a jeté over a busy city street. While these tend to get a lot of likes and attention, they may not be the best types of pics to send when you're trying to book a job. You want to keep the focus on what's most important to casting directors: you! So how do you find the right balance between eye-catching and professional? We talked to insiders across the dance world to find out.

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How To

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