Last July, at the star-studded New York City Dance Alliance closing night gala, Ida Saki calmly stepped out onto the stage. As a finalist in the running for the 2009 Senior Outstanding Dancer title, the long-legged Iranian-American beauty got to perform her contemporary solo one last time for the judges.
Dancing to the title song from Schindler’s List, Ida threw all caution aside physically—hurling herself to the floor, flinging and twisting her limbs in sky-high attitudes and skewed arabesques—and mentally, as well. She seemed to wring emotion out of her body with every gesture, leaving it all behind on the dance floor. Her interpretation was genuine and heart felt. When her performance was over, the crowd, as if on cue, jumped to its feet. That night, Ida won the hearts of the judges and her audience, and the Senior Outstanding Dancer title.
It’s undeniable. There’s just something about Ida Saki. The Dance Spirit editors saw it immediately when Ida arrived in NYC as one of the three finalists for the 2009 Dance Spirit Cover Model Search Contest sponsored by Discount Dance Supply. And you, the readers, recognized it too, and voted her as our winner! (To learn more about Ida’s win and our two amazing runners-up, Kamille Upshaw and Nicole Knudson, turn to p. 70.)
So what exactly does Ida have that’s so special? Stage presence is hard to define, but when you see it, it’s mesmerizing. Some say it’s a certain vitality, a life force (ahem, Martha Graham), a fearlessness or the ability to translate music into movement. No matter what, when you’ve got it, you’ve got the power to inspire and move audiences. In “Possessing Presence,” p. 86, DS takes a closer look at what it means to have and develop stage presence.
Two other performers who bring thousands of people to their feet each night are Misty Copeland (American Ballet Theatre’s superstar soloist) and Scarlett Strallen (currently on Broadway as Mary Poppins). In “You Asked—Misty Answered,” p. 92, Misty dishes about everything from getting a late start in ballet to her favorite places to eat in NYC. And in “A Spoonful of Scarlett,” p. 100, we learn how ballet student Scarlett transformed herself into a triple threat.
Speaking of triple threats: Years ago, I interviewed Bebe Neuwirth, one of the most amazing triple threats. She said it was actually easiest for her to dance, sing and act all at the same time because every part of her body and mind had to be engaged. For those of you who want to follow in Scarlett’s and Bebe’s footsteps, turn to “Tips for a Triple Threat” on p. 104 to learn how to master three skills at once.
Finally, the DS editors ventured all over the U.S. last summer for our Nationals coverage. Don’t miss “Trend Watch 2009,” p. 74, to see what trends we spotted and if you landed in our pages!
So without further ado…our October issue!
Last August, Nigel Lythgoe came to NYC on behalf of his new Dizzy Feet Foundation. The “So You Think You Can Dance” Executive Producer visited American Ballet Theatre and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre to watch demonstrations and speak with students. I was lucky enough to sit with him as he spoke at ABT about Dizzy Feet. Here we are below! (Turn to School Buzz, p. 112, for more on this!) Also during this visit, Mr. Lythgoe and I decided that the winner of “STYYCD” Season 6 will get a cover of Dance Spirit as part of the “America’s Favorite Dancer” prize! So please watch and vote for your favorites during the show’s first-ever fall season. And stay tuned for the November issue which will feature “SYTYCD” Season 5 winner Jeanine Mason (talk about stage presence!) on the cover!