Dear Katie
Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morgan

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB 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,

I always "hitch" when transitioning from the side to the back during grands ronds de jambe. How can I make my grands ronds smoother?

Georgia

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Dancer to Dancer
Rachel Neville Photography, courtesy Pazcoguin

New York City Ballet soloist Georgina Pazcoguin's vivacious energy and fiery passion infuse her ballet roles, but her effervescent presence also proves perfect for the Great White Way. In 2015 she made her Broadway debut as Ivy Smith in On the Town, and she played the white cat Victoria in the 2016 revival of CATS. An Altoona, PA, native, she started training at age 4 at the Allegheny Ballet Academy. In 2001, she enrolled in the School of American Ballet; in 2002 she became an NYCB apprentice; and one year later she joined as an official corps member. She was promoted to soloist in 2013. Currently, she's performing with the company and can be found curating her brand, The Rogue Ballerina, on her social media channels. —Courtney Bowers

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Dance News
Courtesy Under Armour

Misty Copeland is unstoppable this month: In addition to releasing a buzzy new line of super-pretty activewear, designed in collaboration with Under Armour, she also sat down with Refinery29 for an in-depth interview, discussing everything from diversity in ballet to her take on fitness trends like barre classes.

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Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morgan

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB 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,

I love dance so much. In fact, I think I might love it TOO much. I'm completely obsessed: I spend every minute I can at the studio, and I'm even having dreams about dance class. Is that bad, or unhealthy? Am I going to burn out?

Tonya

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Dancer to Dancer
Sarah Lane as Clara in The Nutcracker (photo by Gene Schiavone, courtesy American Ballet Theatre)

American Ballet Theatre principal Sarah Lane charms audiences with her bright energy and crisp technique. The San Francisco, CA, native first started dancing at age 4 at a local community center, and at age 7 started training in Memphis, TN, at the Classical Ballet Memphis. Her family later moved to Rochester, NY, where she continued studying at the Draper Center for Dance Education. In 2002, she was a YoungArts Foundation winner in dance, allowing her to become a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. She joined American Ballet Theatre as an apprentice in 2003, was made a soloist in 2007, and was promoted to principal last fall. Recently, she originated the role of Princess Praline in Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream. Catch her later this spring during ABT's Metropolitan Opera season. —Courtney Bowers

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Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morgan

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB 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,

I like dance, but what I really want to do is choreograph. The problem is that I'm only 15 and I live in a small town, so there aren't many opportunities for me to create dances. How can I develop the skills I need to become a choreographer?

Angelica

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Dancer to Dancer
via Instagram, @idasaki

Former Dance Spirit Cover Model Search winner and all-around goddess, Ida Saki, is one of those rare dancers that captivates on every level. Not only are we obsessed with her silky smooth contemporary moves and impossibly gorgeous lines (those feet!! 😍 ), but we're just as obsessed with what she has to say.

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Dancer to Dancer

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB 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,

My hairline is receding! I know this "ballerina baldness" comes from putting my hair in a tight bun every day. But we're required to wear tight buns for class. What can I do?

Liza

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Dancer to Dancer

You know Galen Hooks as the choreographer who creates the stellar dance moves for dozens of viral videos, and the dancer who's performed for everyone fromthe Biebs to Rihanna. But now she's gearing up for two different roles; director and composer.

Hooks' new dance film, " Wait for Me," was written, composed, directed, styled, and choreographed by the versatile artist. And though the overachiever could've easily danced in it, too, she chose instead to feature an army of all-star dancers including Ashley Everett, Jasmine Harper, Kyle Robinson, Melinda Sullivan, and Kenny Wormald. Read our exclusive interview with Hooks and discover what prompted this shift towards directing.

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Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Jayme Thornton

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB 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,

I'm a one-sided turner, and it's becoming a serious problem. I can do quadruple turns to the right, but can barely manage a double to the left. What am I doing wrong, and how can I even myself out?

Aubrey

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Dancer to Dancer
The multitalented Merritt Moore (photo by James Glader, courtesy Moore)

For the past decade, Merritt Moore has been living a double life as both a professional ballerina and a quantum physicist. While dancing with Zurich Ballet and Boston Ballet, she received her undergrad degree from Harvard in physics, and she's currently pursuing a PhD in quantum physics at Oxford while performing with English National Ballet and London Contemporary Ballet.

Now, Moore is hoping to add another ball to her juggling act: becoming an astronaut. She's one of 12 contestants competing on the BBC reality show " Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?" For six weeks, Moore and her competitors face a series of demanding physical and psychological challenges to see if they're astronaut material. (Show mentor Chris Hadfield, former Commander of the International Space Station, will recommend the winner to space agencies recruiting for astronauts.) Even in a cast of extremely accomplished people—the contestants include a military pilot, a surgeon, and a dentist who has summited Mount EverestMoore's unusual combination of skills stands out.

We leveled with the renaissance woman about how she's managed to pursue all her different passions.

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Just for Fun
The multitalented Merritt Moore (photo by James Glader, courtesy Moore)

For the past decade, Merritt Moore has been living a double life as both a professional ballerina and a quantum physicist. While dancing with Zurich Ballet and Boston Ballet, she received her undergrad degree from Harvard in physics, and she's currently pursuing a PhD in quantum physics at Oxford while performing with English National Ballet and London Contemporary Ballet.

Now, Moore is hoping to add another ball to her juggling act: becoming an astronaut. She's one of 12 contestants competing on the BBC reality show " Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?" For six weeks, Moore and her competitors face a series of demanding physical and psychological challenges to see if they're astronaut material. (Show mentor Chris Hadfield, former Commander of the International Space Station, will recommend the winner to space agencies recruiting for astronauts.) Even in a cast of extremely accomplished people—the contestants include a military pilot, a surgeon, and a dentist who has summited Mount EverestMoore's unusual combination of skills stands out.

We leveled with the renaissance woman about how she's managed to pursue all her different passions.

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Dancer to Dancer
Sarah Stanley (Paula Court, courtesy Sarah Stanley)

Navigating college can be tough, especially when you're balancing an intense dance schedule with academic classes and jobs—and trying to make new friends! About to begin your college adventure? We talked to these recent graduates about what they wish they'd known before starting college.

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Dance News

Auditions are like vegetables: Are they the most delicious food? Probably not. Are they essential for your growth as a dancer? Definitely.

We love asking the pros for their advice, because we know the important role auditions play in every dancer's career. Whether we're breaking down the basics for first-time auditionees, giving you real talk on mistakes you don't know you're making or keeping it light with stories of pros' worst audition mistakes, we're always looking for tips to help you make it to the final round.

A Rockette audition (photo via New York Daily News)

With audition season almost upon us, who better to share advice than our favorite leggy ladies, the Radio City Rockettes? We love that they hold auditions every year and are always on the lookout for new performers. Here are some of their top tips for a solid audition experience:

  1. Review all of the audition requirements and guidelines...more than once. (You do NOT want to be that girl who brought black shoes when tan ones were required.)
  2. Use a folder or envelope to hold all your paperwork, like application forms, audition fees, headshots and resumes (and extra headshots and resumes).
  3. If you're asked a question or interviewed, listen carefully, take a breath and then speak. (It's not a great feeling to blurt out an answer, accidentally interrupt someone and then have literally no idea what you just said.)

Read the full list here!

Want more Dance Spirit?

Commanding, versatile, fearless, sinewy, grounded—it's impossible to describe multifaceted Boston Ballet principal Lia Cirio in just one word. That's partly because she's had a perfectly pointed foot in two distinct corners of the dance world. She joined Boston Ballet II in 2004 and quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a soloist in the main company three years later. Then, Cirio took a yearlong hiatus to tour with the more contemporary Trey McIntyre Project. She returned to Boston Ballet in 2009, was promoted to principal in 2010 and currently performs both contemporary and classical roles. She also dances with the Cirio Collective, created by her brother, English National Ballet lead principal Jeffrey Cirio. Catch Lia with BB this fall in John Neumeier's Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler at the Boston Opera House. —Jenny Ouellette

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Dancer to Dancer

(Photo by Nathan Sayers)

Dear Katie,

My teacher always casts me in flashy pieces with lots of turning and jumping, but I’d really like to try something more lyrical. How can I keep from getting typecast? —Danielle

Dear Danielle,

If you keep getting cast in flashy pieces, you probably have really strong technique—congratulations! But I understand your dilemma. Nobody wants to be typecast. To break out of your box, start by focusing on the more lyrical parts of class. Casting begins in the studio, so if your teacher sees improvement there, she’ll be more likely to cast you in lyrical pieces. During adagio, for example, pay close attention to the

music; let it flow through you. Or, if there’s a waltz combination, try to use up all the space in the studio and really dance.

The other thing I’d recommend is simply talking to your teacher. Don’t accuse her of not casting you in those roles—negativity will only hurt you. Instead, tell her you’re interested in broadening your horizons. Say that you’d appreciate the challenge of a lyrical role, and assure her you’ll work as hard as you can on it. Even if she says no, ask if you can understudy a lyrical part. That way, you’ll be able to show her what you can do without the pressures and risks that come with performance.

Dear Katie,

I feel like I’m really bad at networking. How can I get my name out in the dance world in a way that will help me earn jobs? —Avery

Dear Avery,

The first key to networking is to be friendly in general, and especially when you’re at an audition or in class. If you make a connection with a teacher or another dancer, don’t be afraid to talk about yourself. You obviously don’t want to be a braggart, but unless you tell people about your accomplishments, they won’t know! That said, don’t be overly aggressive. It can be obvious when someone’s trying too hard to network. Frequently, it doesn’t take much—a single conversation can sometimes lead to a job. So just be your lovely self.

I’d also recommend keeping your resumé on hand, in case a teacher mentions she’s looking for dancers for a particular project, for example. Class can sometimes turn into an impromptu audition! Make sure your resumé is updated, well-organized and has a clean layout.

And social media can be a powerful tool. To build your following, try posting dance pictures or short video clips of yourself, and make smart use of hashtags. Again, it’s all about getting yourself out there. You can’t expect people to find you on their own—you have to give them a little help.

Dear Katie,

I’m pretty flexible, but while my extension is good to the front and side, I have trouble getting past 90 degrees in arabesque. Do you have any tips? —Kelsey

Dear Kelsey,

Extensions to the front and side are all about the hamstrings, but arabesque primarily has to do with your back. So to get that arabesque higher, start by working out your back muscles. I’d recommend taking Pilates classes, which are excellent for strengthening your back. But these exercises are also helpful:

1. Lie on your stomach with your hands under your forehead. Lift your upper body off the floor, lengthening outward as if trying to reach the opposite wall. Lower slowly. Repeat 12 to 15 times. You should feel the burn in the upper part of your back; if you start to feel it in your lower back, you’re lifting too high.

2. Beginning in the same position, lift and lower each of your legs 12 to 15 times, keeping them turned out. Again, try to think of lengthening them toward the wall behind you.

You can do many combinations of these exercises—lifting up one leg and the opposite arm simultaneously, for example, or, once you’re a little stronger, both legs and both arms.

The other thing that helps is to remember that an arabesque should lift from the inner thigh, not the hip. So as you raise your leg, feel the inner thigh rotating to pull it up. That will make your legs so much lighter and freer.

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