Erin Baiano

In our Dear Katie series, Miami City Ballet 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've been trying to improve my front développé, but I just can't get it higher than 90 degrees. I'm plenty flexible, and my side extension is pretty good. What am I doing wrong?

Annika

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Dear Katie
Erin Baiano

In our Dear Katie series, Miami City Ballet 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 think I have an eating disorder. My eating habits have been getting worse (binging and purging, fasting, all that) since I moved away from home to study dance. I know it's bad for me, but I haven't had any physical side effects that've affected my technique. I'm worried that if I tell someone, I'll be forced to stop dancing so I can recover. What should I do?

Emilie

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Dear Katie
Getty Images

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the moment the clock strikes midnight on Halloween, the holiday season has begun. And for dancers, that means only one thing: It's officially full-on Nutcracker time.

Sure, we've been in rehearsals since September, but it's not until ~spooky~ season ends that we can really start getting in the Nutcracker mood. And as the holidays kick into high gear, things around the studio start getting a little crazy. Here are the nine moods every dancer experiences at least once during the annual Nutcracker rush.

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Just for Fun
Getty Images

Further showing that whatever mere humans can do, ballerinas can do more gracefully, the Australian Ballet created the most beautiful obstacle course we've ever seen, and then put their dancers to the test. Naturally, when it came to execution, the company members went above and beyond: Why jump over a hurdle when you could pas de chat, or run to the finish when you could chaîné?

Watch the full video (which first premiered on World Ballet Day) below, featuring soloist Nicola Curry and dancers of the Australian Ballet.

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Dance Videos
Photo by Jayme Thornton

It's National Bullying Prevention Month—and Houston Ballet breakout star Harper Watters is exactly the advocate young dancers facing bullying need. Watters is no novice when it comes to slaying on social media, but his Bullying Prevention Month collaboration with Teen Vogue and Instagram is him at his most raw, speaking about his own experiences with bullies, and how his love of dance helped him to overcome adversity. Watters even penned an incredible op-ed for Teen Vogue's website, where he talks candidly about growing up queer. Catch his amazing anti-bullying video here—and, as Watters says, "Stay fabulous, stay flawless, stay flexible, but most importantly, stay fearless."

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Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Erin Baiano

In our Dear Katie series, Miami City Ballet 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 can do fouetté turns forever in flat shoes—but once I put my pointe shoes on, everything falls apart. How can I improve my fouettés on pointe?

Isabella

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Dear Katie
NYCB dancers Peter Walker (left) and Jonathan Fahoury performing Kyle Abraham's "The Runaway," with costumes by Giles Deacon (photo by Erin Baiano, courtesy NYCB)

Autumn in the Big Apple means one thing: New York City Ballet's Fall Fashion Gala. Since its inception in 2012 by Sarah Jessica Parker, the gala has produced dozens of new ballets, complete with original costumes designed by the fashion industry's biggest names. Ahead of this year's gala—which takes place September 26th and features new works by Lauren Lovette and Edwaard Liang, with costumes designed by Zac Posen and Anna Sui—NYCB joined forces with INTERSECT by Lexus on an exhibition showcasing the many stunning gala costumes from years past. Dance Spirit met up with Marc Happel, NYCB's Director of Costumes, to talk about the retrospective, the biggest lessons he's learned over the years, and the designers he'd love to work with in the future.

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Dance and Fashion

Dancers breaking world records before they've even had their morning coffee? Shouldn't surprise you, considering our next-level enthusiasm for absolutely anything that has to do with dance. And that's exactly the feat 300+ dancers—myself included!—achieved this morning on the streets of NYC.

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Dance News
Photo by Erin Baiano

In our Dear Katie series, Miami City Ballet 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 14-year-old dancer, and my biggest dream is to become a professional. I have pretty good technique (though I'm still a work in progress, of course). My issue is my weight. I'm not overweight at all—in the regular world, I'm quite slim—but I'm bigger than the other dancers in my class. Should I work on losing weight if I want to become a professional? Or do you think I can find a company that will take me as I am?

Elizabeth

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Dear Katie
Darrion Sellman competing at Youth America Grand Prix (Siggul/Visual Arts Masters, courtesy YAGP)

At age 15, Darrion Sellman already possesses the traits that make his idols—The Royal Ballet's Steven McRae and American Ballet Theatre's David Hallberg—such world-class dancers. Darrion has McRae's easy grace and controlled turns, plus Hallberg's noble movement quality and super-archy feet, and he's taken those gifts and run with them. The talented dancer has earned merit scholarships to summer intensives at Canada's National Ballet School and San Francisco Ballet School, and won YAGP's Youth Grand Prix Award three times in a row. And in 2017, Darrion was recognized by The Royal Ballet School's International Scholars Programme as an exceptionally talented ballet student from outside the UK.

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Rising Stars
Photo by Erin Baiano

14-year-old phenom Madison Brown excels in both ballet and contemporary—and we're talking a wins-basically-every-competition-she-enters level of excellence. How does she do it? Read her Summer 2019 cover story, here on dancespirit.com, to find out.

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Videos
Photo by Erin Baiano

Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.

Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."

Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?

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Cover Story
Photo by Eva Nys, courtesy Ellison Ballet

Keaton Gillespie has the expressive face of a silent film star. Add in her soaring extensions, elegant port de bras, and gorgeous feet, and it's no wonder this 15-year-old is turning heads. Currently in her second year at Ellison Ballet in NYC, Keaton made the big move up from South Carolina on her own at 13, after crafting a PowerPoint presentation to convince her parents that the school's intense Vaganova curriculum was what she needed to take her dancing to the next level. (Her parents will join her in NYC this summer, now that her brother has finished high school.) Keaton's 2018 wins included junior grand prix at ADC/IBC and top 12 classical at the Youth America Grand Prix NYC finals. But she's not in it for the trophies. "I love ballet for the artistic challenge," Keaton says. "You're doing something so physically demanding, but you have to portray a character at the same time. I want to impact people with my artistry onstage."

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Rising Stars
Photo by Erin Baiano

In our "Dear Katie" series, Miami City Ballet 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've reached a point where it's clear that my body isn't designed for ballet. Realizing that broke my heart, because dancing with a classical ballet company was always my dream. Some of my teachers have said that I should audition for contemporary groups, but I feel like that would be weird—I've barely studied contemporary dance, and I don't love it. Should I quit dance? Or should I go down a path I'm not 100 percent passionate about?

Aaliyah

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Dear Katie
Alison Miller (front) in Stanton Welch's "The Ladies" (Amitava Sarkar, courtesy Houston Ballet)

Few things ruin the magic of a performance faster than the sound of loud pointe shoes. "When an audience watches someone dancing, they don't want to hear tap-tap-tap," says Houston Ballet first soloist Allison Miller. Pointe shoe sounds can be distracting to you, too, breaking your concentration and keeping you from getting lost in the moment. So, how can you step more softly? Doing so takes thought and practice, and maybe some changes to your shoes themselves. But it can also help you stand out—quietly.

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Ballet

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