Ethan Stiefel

With his laser-sharp technique and powerful stage presence—as immortalized by his star turn as Cooper Nielson in Center Stage and Center Stage: Turn It Up—American Ballet Theatre principal Ethan Stiefel is a force to be reckoned with. Stiefel began his dance training at age 8 in Madison, WI, and went on to study at the Milwaukee Ballet School and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet before attending the American Ballet Theatre’s School of Classical Ballet and The School of American Ballet on scholarship. After dancing professionally with New York City Ballet and the Zurich Ballet, Stiefel joined ABT as a principal in 1997. He recently finished a four-year run as dean of the School of Dance for the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and beginning this month, he’ll add yet another title to his impressive resumé: artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. —Stephanie Falkowski

Dear Ethan,

Ardently believe in your artistic ideals and creative vision, but understand that you will meet challenges in executing that vision. Recognize that you will often need to make adjustments or accept a different end result.

You may find yourself full of self-doubt. Sometimes, others will create the doubts you wrestle with. Embrace the guidance of those you trust and respect. They will get you through periods of uncertainty.

Know that the purity and integrity of an original idea can be preserved. Remember: That idea, at the moment it was born, was yours alone. It lives forever as you originally conceived it.


Ethan Stiefel

Latest Posts

Because there's never been a better time to binge-watch "Bunheads" (via Freeform)

5 of the Danciest TV Shows Streaming Right Now (and Where to Stream Them)

We're about two months into #SocialDisDancing, and let's be real—while we all wish we were spending every spare minute stretching, cross-training, or taking online classes, sometimes we just need to Netflix and chill.

We figure, if you're going to be watching TV anyways, why not make it dancy TV? After all, watching pros dance on-screen is basically dance class homework...or at least we'll say it is. Here are five of the danciest TV shows for you to watch—and where to find them.

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The cast of Center Stage in a promotional poster (courtesy Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

The Making of "Center Stage," as Remembered by Its Dance Stars

Whether you first watched it in a theater two decades ago or on Netflix last week, odds are you feel a deep connection to Center Stage. The cult classic, which premiered May 12, 2000, is arguably the greatest dance film ever made. (Dance obsessives might take issue with the "cult" before "classic," not to mention the "dance" before "film.") Jody Sawyer's ballet journey—which combines oh-wow-I've-had-those-blisters realism with wait-does-she-have-magic-color-changing-pointe-shoes fantasy—stands the test of time, early-aughts fashion be darned. We've memorized its highly quotable lines, laughed with (and, gently, at) its heroes, and been inspired by its sincere love of dance and dancers.

To celebrate Center Stage's 20th anniversary, we asked five of its dance stars to talk through their memories of the filming process. Here are their stories of on-set bonding, post-puke kissing scenes, and life imitating art imitating life.

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2020 Dance Grads: We Want to Put You on Our Cover!

Hello, all you members of the great Dance Class of 2020. With the world on lockdown, this hasn't been the graduation season you expected. You likely weren't able to go to prom; your commencement ceremonies have probably been delayed or canceled; and you might not have been able to take your planned-for final bow onstage.

Since you're missing out on so much, we'd like to give you a virtual ovation, to recognize all you've accomplished. And what's the highest honor we can bestow? The cover of Dance Spirit!

Here's the plan:

  • If you're a high school or college senior dancer, use this form to submit your information and dance portrait.
  • Each day during the month of May, we'll create a digital Dance Spirit cover starring one of you, chosen at random—31 covers in total.
  • At the end of the month, we'll create a "commencement video" featuring even more of your submitted dance photos.
  • 100 of you, selected by lottery, will also receive free one-year subscriptions to the print magazine.

Merde, 2020 graduates, as you dance your way into the future!

High School and College Senior Dancers: Submit Your Photo Here

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