Because there's a right (and a wrong) way to stretch (Getty Images)

If you've seen it once, you've seen it a million times: a pic or vid of an über-flexible dancer stretching her enviably limber limbs. She's got her banana feet jammed between a portable barre and the floor, or a Gumby-esque leg propped impossibly high on a dresser. You've probably felt jealous of her wow-worthy flexibility.

But Ashley deLalla, a physical therapist and Pilates instructor with the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters' Dance Medicine Program in Norfolk, VA, has a very different reaction. "It's cringeworthy. I find myself holding my breath, especially when you look at how young these dancers are," she says. Athletic trainer and acupuncturist Megan Richardson, who's on staff at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries in NYC, agrees: "Overstretching—forcing yourself into an extreme position for a long time, or doing the wrong stretch for what you're trying to achieve—has always been a cultural problem in the dance world." So what is the right way to stretch? We're so glad you asked.

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Health & Body
Splish splash, you should be taking a bath! (Getty Images)

After a grueling day in the studio, it's important to give your tired muscles some extra TLC. Baths are a great way to aid recovery, but figuring out the most effective temperature can get complicated—should you go piping hot, or ice cold? Here, we break down the benefits of both.

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Health & Body
Kyle Froman, courtesy Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

With effortless extensions, sky-high leaps, and equal parts elegance and strength, Ailey II company member Caroline Theodora Dartey is impossible to miss onstage. Born in Geneva, Switzerland, Dartey actually started out training in rhythmic gymnastics, where she earned both national and international titles. She later took up dance, training at the Conservatoire Populaire de Musique, Danse et Théâtre of Geneva before deciding to move to NYC to pursue her dream career. She joined The Ailey School as a scholarship student in 2016, and is now embarking on her second season with Ailey II. Catch Dartey on tour with Ailey II all over the world this fall, and read on for The Dirt.

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Dancers Dish
There's no better way to get to know the dance professor you've been fangirling over all semester than going to their office hours. (Via Getty Images)

"Part of my job is to have at least two hours a week where I sit there, waiting for someone to come talk to me," says Heidi Henderson, professor of dance at Connecticut College. But dance students in particular often don't think to go to office hours. Why not? Unless you have a specific problem to address, it can feel weird to just sit and talk with professors. Far from it: "Coming to office hours is a way of going above and beyond," Henderson says. "I notice which students come to talk about dance or life, and I'll note that in recommendation letters." As you'll soon see, office hours encompass much more than just a nice chat.

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Dancer to Dancer
Meagan King (center) and fellow students from The Ailey School Professional Division

After all the work that goes into applying to college BFA programs, it can seem like getting that long-awaited acceptance letter is the be-all and end-all. But talk to most seniors, and they'll tell you that acceptance is just the beginning of a whirlwind experience. We asked seven senior dance majors from some of the nation's top programs to look back on their college journeys and offer advice to their freshman selves.

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Dancer to Dancer
You and your bestie are going to dance right through this list. (Getty Images)

ICYMI: National Dance Day is tomorrow, September 21! We're sure you already know all about the official NDD challenge and the big events happening in L.A. and Washington DC. But there are plenty of outside-the-box celebration options, too. Here are nine bonus dance-filled ways to get festive tomorrow.

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Dancer to Dancer
Hip-hop queen Dana Alexa slaying it in the new "Snitch" music video (via YouTube)

We absolutely stan a music video that makes a commitment to showcasing serious dancers. Which is why we're full-blown excited for the new video for Netsky's "Snitch."

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Dance Videos
Via YouTube

Jellicle cats, come one and all—because there's even more (and even more amazing) behind-the-scenes footage from the new Cats movie, and it is full of dancy goodness. So, paws whatever you're doing, and go watch this new BTS video right meow (and no, the cat puns aren't stopping).

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Dance Videos
We're never going to stop talking about Missy Elliott's iconic performance (via YouTube)

The MTV Video Music Awards are really a dancer's dream awards show. Think about it: we get to hear our favorite songs sung live, see the music industry's brightest stars decked out in ridiculous, over-the-top costumes, and watch some insanely full-out performances, courtesy of the dance world's most talented dancers and choreographers.

This year's VMAs were no exception. From start to finish, we saw act after act chock-full of some of the best dancing television has seen in a minute. In the (highly unlikely) event you missed the show, we gathered up all of the best dancing from last night.


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Dance Videos
Hip-hop choreographer Bailey Sok leading class (Jody Carter, courtesy Sok)

Over the past few years, social media platforms have become launching pads for a new generation of choreographers. Many of these young artists grew up in front of the camera lens, dancing in the class videos of pioneers like Matt Steffanina and Tricia Miranda. Now, these familiar faces are flexing their choreographic muscles for huge YouTube and Instagram audiences, inviting subscribers to follow their journeys. Here are five up-and-coming dancemakers you should keep an eye on (literally).

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Dance Videos
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 really want to do dance competitions, but my teacher doesn't like them—she says they'll make me focus on the wrong things in my training. Is she right? What should I do?


Alessandra

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Dear Katie
Nothing calls for an all-out, all-around-the-house celebration dance like getting into your dream school—early. (Getty Images)

It's that time of year for high school seniors: early decision/early action season. Your guidance counselor at school might have already recommended these options to you—but just as the college admissions process is more complicated for dancers overall, you'll also need to think carefully before deciding whether or not you want to jump ahead of the regular admissions timeline. To help you decide, we enlisted the help of Dr. Elizabeth Stone (executive director of Campanile college admissions counseling) and Sara Pourghasemi (director of college counseling at the Professional Performing Arts School in NYC).

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How To
Hip-hop teacher Gev Manoukian talking with dancers at West Coast Dance Explosion (courtesy Manoukian)

Whether it's your very first dance convention or you're a seasoned weekend warrior, you're undoubtedly hoping to catch the eyes of your favorite teachers, and dreaming of getting pulled onstage to demonstrate a combo. With hundreds of other talented dancers in the room, however, it's easy to feel (and actually get) lost in the crowd. We asked three veteran teachers on the convention circuit for tips on how to best grab their attention.

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How To
Courtesy Amy Palmer

Congratulations to the July Cover Model Search Editors' Choice video winner, Amy Palmer! Check out her solo below, and enter the Cover Model Search here.

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Cover Model Search
Photo by Wilson Greaton, courtesy Easton Payne

Twenty-two-year-old dancer and choreographer Easton Payne is an artist's artist: His movement is profoundly empathic, wholly original, and endlessly creative. That unique voice was honed through training at the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education and Dance Town in Doral, FL. Payne now choreographs for studios across the country, though you're probably most familiar with his work for Molly Long's Project 21. Read on to find out how he keeps making movement that's like nothing we've seen before. —Helen Rolfe

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