Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morg

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 grip my quads, and I don't know how to stop. I'm totally overdeveloping my quad muscles. How can I retrain myself so I use my legs correctly? Help!

Lily

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Dance News
Misty Copeland in Drake's new music video "Nice For What" (via YouTube)

By now, we're used to seeing Misty Copeland embrace roles beyond her original title of prima ballerina. Between being an author, a spokesmodel, a designer, and even taking on the silver screen for a role in Disney's upcoming "Nutcracker" live action movie, Copeland's resume is a plethora of unique titles that prove her versatility both on and off the stage. So it should come as no surprise that the dancing kween would collaborate with Drake in his latest music video "Nice For What."

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Dance News
via @morganjeanquinn on Instagram

You probably remember the big Free People faux pas from 2014 where the popular clothing brand featured an untrained dancer (sickled feet and all) in its ad campaign, sparking a lot of shade from fuming dancers around the world. Well, Free People learned from its mistake and has been enlisting real dancers for some of their artsy promos ever since. From featuring The Washington Ballet's Nardia Boodoo in their lifestyle blog to including dance classes taught by Dance Theater of Harlem ballet dancer Alison Stroming in their pop-up shop fitness event, Free People appears to have caught on to the fact that we want to see real dancers dancing and not models mimicking an art that actually takes years of blood, sweat, and hard work to master.

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Popular
Misty Copeland in Swan Lake (photo by Gene Schiavone)

In case you haven't heard (but you have): American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland is one of most famous, and most respected, ballerinas in the world. She's also one of the only black women currently performing Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, which means her (inevitably sold-out) performances of the role come with an extra degree of both celebration and scrutiny.

Since she first started dancing the part in 2015, Copeland has struggled with its infamously difficult sequence of 32 fouettés. She's not the first ballerina to do so; the legendary Maya Plisetskaya, for example, opted to skip them completely, subbing a glittering string of piqué and chaîné turns instead (you can see them here, at 8:13). But Copeland's Swan Lake "fouetté fails," some of which have been posted to YouTube, have attracted plenty of jeers on social media. And today, Copeland herself responded to the criticism.

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Dancer to Dancer
Oregon Ballet Theatre's Jacquline Straughan (with Brian Simcoe) showing off her beautiful epaulment in Swan Lake (photo by Jingzi, courtesy Oregon Ballet Theatre)

It's in Odette's gracefully arched neck, the Lilac Fairy's regal bearing, even a contemporary dancer's extreme lines. The "it" in question? Épaulement—the nuanced positioning of the head, shoulders, and neck. Using your épaulement (which translates, literally, as "shouldering") does more than make your dancing prettier: It makes it better, richer, and more artistic. But achieving effortless épaulement is easier said than done, especially since technique classes tend to focus on the legs and feet.

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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 have an issue with my knees. Since they're not hyperextended at all, I feel like they constantly look a little bit bent. What can I do to improve my line?

Tabitha

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Dance News
via @puma on Instagram

Lauren Lovette's on 🔥 and Puma knows it. So in honor of International Women's Day, the athletic clothing brand featured Lovette in their Do You campaign. The New York City Ballet star appears in the inspiring video with WNBA All-Star Skylar Diggins-Smith, where the two talk about their mottos for success and how they're using their platforms to pay it back.

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Dancer to Dancer
Screenshot via YouTube

Let's be real—as much as we love dance, there are days where the pain and discouragement that come from perfecting our craft can make us question why we do what we do. Well, five principal dancers of the Czech National Ballet got on our level and revealed that pain and pressure are as much a part of the process of dance as joy.

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