(Front) Kali Grinder (photo by Daniel Robinson, courtesy Grinder)
Former comp star Kali Grinder's stellar stage presence and graceful lines have served her well in her new life as a Broadway baby. She performed in Wicked on Broadway for one year, appeared on the show's national tour, and was a Rockette during The Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Currently, she's an ensemble dancer in the new musical Frozen. A Las Vegas, NV, native, Grinder started training at The Dance Zone at age 6. She briefly studied dance at Point Park University before heading to NYC to pursue her dreams. Catch her dancing with Anna and Elsa this month during the show's previews—and read on for the dirt!
If you were a superhero, what would your special power be?
I would be able to use my hair like arms. It would grow long instantly to reach people who needed help far away.
What's your go-to stress reliever?
Nature. It really is the best medicine.
Where do you feel the happiest?
I feel happiest when I am onstage. It is the perfect place to lose inhibitions, anxiety or stress. Anything that might be troubling me I can let go there.
What's your biggest fear?
Putting myself out there is terrifying for me, but when I do dive in headfirst it's led me to some of my greatest accomplishments. It is empowering and exhilarating to do things that scare you.
Who's your dance role model?
Megan Lawson! She never stops creating and she is so authentically herself in her expressions.
Who can always make you laugh?
My English Bulldog, Buddha. He's such a little monster. I can't help but giggle when I look at his smooshy face.
What's one food you can't live without?
I LOVE PICKLES!!
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I would go some where in the middle of the ocean. I could watch the fish swimming and see what it would be like to be away from any sort of civilization.
Do you have any pre-performance habits?
This is a new one I have picked up from one of my partners at Frozen. He always comes to me to hug me or just check in. It's good for both of us to connect before he throws me in the air.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I guess I'd say ice cream, but I can't say I really feel guilty. It's justifiably delicious... always!
What's something you can't live without?
I have an electric blanket at my dressing station. People recommend heating pads and I say do yourself one better. It's large enough to warm from your shoulders to your knees.
What are your pet peeves?
What would you be if you weren't a dancer?
I think I would go back to school and get into psychology. I feel like I could help a lot of people in that field.
Do you have any nicknames?
People who are close to me call me Kali May ("May" is my middle name).
What's the most-played song on your playlist?
It's constantly changing, but right now I'm hooked on "Nature," by Madaila.
What's your advice for young performers?
Expose yourself to different art forms. Supporting other people's expression and vulnerability is not only fuel for yourself, but also fuel for the creative community.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
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 by clicking on their names here:
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When it comes to injury-prone body parts, knees reign supreme for dancers. But a little strengthening can go a long way in preventing painful outcomes. We turned to Dirk Hartog, a physical therapist with Westside Dance Physical Therapy in NYC, for three exercises that'll support and stabilize your knees.
James Whiteside (Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine)
Say you're perpetually impeccable designer Thom Browne. Say you're planning your Spring 2020 Paris menswear show along a "Versailles country club" theme. Say you want a world-class danseur to open the show with some kind of appropriately fabulous choreography.
Who do you call? James Whiteside, of course. On Saturday, the American Ballet Theatre principal—wearing pointe shoes and a glorious pinstriped tutu—kicked off Browne's presentation at the École des Beaux-Arts with a 15-minute, show-stealing solo. Whiteside choreographed the piece himself, with the help of detailed notes from the designer.