Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancer and choreographer Hope Boykin shares the best tips she learned. (via Instagram, @hbdance)

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater recently hosted their first Choreography Unlocked Festival, where artists in the business of creating dance gathered to immerse themselves in workshops, performances, and panel discussions. Young choreographers learned tips, tricks, and all about the creative process of choreographing from Ailey's Artistic Director Robert Battle and other choreography experts, including Jawole Willa Jo Zollar.

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Dear Katie
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,

While I love dancing, I think my real dream is to direct a dance company of my own. I'm only 16, but what can I do at this point to start making that dream a reality?

Sarah

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Dancer to Dancer
via giphy.com

Finding the perfect song to choreograph to can sometimes be a very tricky task. But thankfully, our queen Ariana Grande is constantly releasing dance-worthy bops. Whether from her hit album Dangerous Woman or her most recent Sweetener, there are a ton of songs from the "God is a Woman" singer that need to be on your dance playlist STAT. Here are 10 of our favorites.

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Dancer to Dancer
They're blazing new trails in the dance world—and beyond it. (courtesy Keone and Mari Madrid)

Trailblazer (noun): a pioneer in any field of endeavor.

It seems like choreographic duo Keone and Mari Madrid are always exploring uncharted territory. The husband-and-wife team have a well-earned reputation as dance pioneers, starting a decade ago (long before dance videos were a thing) with their mind-bending YouTube clips, and now with their impressive multidisciplinary work. Having an open mind about where their interests might lead has allowed them to seize opportunities within the dance world—and beyond it. "We stay curious and try not to be fearful," Keone says. "We take the risk and see what happens."

We caught up with the creative couple to talk about their latest projects: a unique dance e-book, Ruth, and an innovative full-length show, Beyond Babel.

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Dance News
Mary Grace McNally's "Not for Picking" (Rachel Papo for Dance Teacher)

What's better than a competition that gives promising choreographers a whole bunch of funding? How about a competition that also puts on a must-see show as part of the process? That's the genius model of the Capezio A.C.E. Awards. Every year since 2009, the contest has brought upwards of a dozen finalists, selected from a pool of hundreds of applicants, to present their choreography in a fabulous showcase at the Dance Teacher Summit. On Saturday night, we got to see the work of no fewer than 21(!) talented finalists in this year's performance.

The judging panel—whose task we did not envy—featured boldface names Mia Michaels, Tyce Diorio, Tessandra Chavez, and Dance Magazine Editor in Chief Jennifer Stahl. Who'd they select for the top prizes? The winners are...

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Dance Videos
Screenshot via YouTube

There's nothing dynamic duo Kaycee Rice and Sean Lew can't do. From dominating in class vids to qualifying on "World of Dance," this pair has taken the industry by storm. And their latest video, directed by the talented Tim Milgram and choreographed by the Emmy Award-winning Tessandra Chavez? We can't stop watching it.

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Dance Videos
The cast of All Styles (courtesy Shout Factory)

What do you get when dance all-stars like Fik-Shun Stegall, Heather Morris, and Christopher Scott join forces for a movie? That'd be All Styles, the new dance film that just might give Step Up a run for its money. And you can watch the trailer exclusively right here.

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Dance Videos
Screenshot via YouTube

It took no fewer than three years for choreographers Chris Martin and Larkin Poynton to create Project Home, a 45-minute film that brings together artists from all over the world (including the inspirational Mari Madrid!). And their finished product is sure to take your breath away. Seriously, guys: It's beautiful.

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Dancer to Dancer
Tracie Stanfield's company, SynthesisDANCE performing at the 2017 Young Choreographer's Festival (Photo by Jaqi Medlock, courtesy Young Choreographer's Festival)

Whether it's for a gig at school, a community theater production, or just for fun, the first time you choreograph a dance can be both exhilarating and intimidating. The Young Choreographer's Festival is a platform that helps choreographers ages 18-25 gain experience by giving them a platform to present their work. The festival gives the newcomers a chance to grow as artists as they receive feedback from some of the best in the business. We caught up with eight established choreographers, artistic directors, and instructors who mentored at this year's YCF to find out what mistakes new choreographers should be aware of—and how to avoid them.

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Dance Videos
via YouTube

Cue the goosebumps. Kyle Hanagami has done it again—this time, with choreography to Sam Smith's "Him."

"Him" is about Smith's struggle to find his place in religion as a gay man. As Gay Pride parades and festivals happen all across the world, the message behind "Him" is an issue at the forefront of peoples' minds everywhere. Hanagami and his group of dancers—including Evan Debenedetto, Michael Dameski, and Macy Swaim—bring Smith's powerful lyrics to life through passionate movement and striking edits.

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Dance Videos
via YouTube

As soon as we see Emma Portner's name attached to a project, we immediately know it's going to be magical.

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Dance Videos
Kayla Radomski and Sam Krumrine perform choreography by Kristin McQuaid in a dance music video (Courtesy Red Pebbles PR)

Grace VanderWaal's soulful song "Florets" has inspired a stunning, dance-filled music video that will leave you swooning. This dance delicacy is the passion project of choreographer Kristin McQuaid, whose work has appeared on "So You Think You Can Dance" and "America's Got Talent."

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How To
Choreographic partners Audrey Lane Ellis (right) and Sarah Capua of a+s works (courtesy a+s works)

Choreographing a dance means standing alone at the front of the studio…right? Not necessarily! Many choreographers prefer making work with a partner. Two heads can definitely be better than one, but creating collaboratively does come with some strings attached. Whether you're working in a duo or group by choice or you've been assigned to develop a piece with someone else, try these tips to foster a positive process.

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Dance Videos
Courtesy DKC/O&M

This is one two-and-a-half-minute ride you'll never ever want to get off.

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Dance News
Ayo &Teo incorporate cotton swabs in their dancing to bring awareness to blood caner (courtesy DoSomething.org)

Rapping dance duo Ayo & Teo may still want "ice on their wrists so (they) look better when (they) dance," as their 2017 chart topping song, "Rolex," says. But the two feature a more unusual accessory in their recent dance routine: a cotton swab. After teaming up with DoSomething.org for the Give A Spit About Cancer campaign, Ayo & Teo are encouraging people to join the national bone marrow registry and donate marrow for those suffering from blood cancer.

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