Dancer to Dancer
Lil Buck (photo by Rebecca Miller, courtesy Disney)

As the traditional Nutcracker hits ballet company stages across the country this month, Disney presents an updated take with the film The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. A fusion of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, by E.T.A. Hoffmann, and The Nutcracker ballet, the movie follows Clara as she unlocks a box from her late mother and is promptly transported into a fantastical world, where she meets a soldier named Phillip. Together, they adventure through the Land of Snowflakes, the Land of Flowers, the Land of Sweets, and the Fourth Realm, where they must defeat the cruel Mother Ginger. But there's still plenty of dance: Misty Copeland stars as The Ballerina, Lil Buck created the movement for the Mouse King, and Zachary Catazaro and Sergei Polunin both make appearances. Dance Spirit caught up with Lil Buck to get the inside scoop.

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Dancer to Dancer
Former Los Angeles Ballet soloist and Harvard graduate Liz Walker (courtesy Walker)

For Harvard grad and professional ballerina, Liz Walker, school and dance were always separate. In high school, she studied at a private, all-girls school by day and trained at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School by night. At the same time she was auditioning for professional companies, she was applying to colleges. But when the time came to decide between her education and her dance career, Walker struggled to figure out what path was her own. Eventually choosing to go back and forth between Los Angeles Ballet, freelance work, and Harvard University, Walker graduated with a degree in the history of art and architecture after four years in 2011—and rose to soloist rank in just eight seasons. Here, she tells her story and explains her decision to do both. —Sophie Robertson

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Showstopper Magazine is your source for exclusive content on today's most talked about dancers! It features major influencers in the dance community and the latest dance news, fashion trends, and life-changing advice.

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Just for Fun
via @discountdance on Instagram

"Ballet pink" tights and palest-pink slippers. "Nude" fabrics that match only the lightest of skin tones. Unfortunately, many dancewear staples have historically been available only in a single "flesh tone" that tended to exclude non-Caucasian dancers.

Thankfully, in recent years dancewear companies have begun to respond to this issue, offering more varied shades of tights, pointe shoes, body tights, etc. (One former Knicks City Dancer even made inclusiveness the foundation of her business model.) Now, you can also get foundation garments that suit your unique skin tone with the new Mariia True Bare Collection.

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Popular

How many times have you seen a music video that was so amazing that you and your friends wanted to recreate it? And how many times have you actually spent the time and effort to learn the choreography and actually film it? TBH, we've all been inspired by a catchy tune that's paired with some great choreo and cool cinematography. Some of us may even have actual footage of such embarrassing attempts buried deep in the archives of our phones. But four girls from Thailand, did what most of us mere mortals only dream about. They flawlessly recreated one of their favorite band's music videos—and broke the internet in the process.

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Health & Body
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More studio time = more improvement? Not always, according to Roman Zhurbin, American Ballet Theatre soloist and certified personal trainer. "It's absolutely necessary to take rest days so your body can reset and you stay motivated," says Zhurbin. "Seven days a week of hard training is just unhealthy." What is healthy: letting your body recover from a jam-packed dance schedule so you can give your best possible performance.

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How To
OCU students learn skills like lighting design in both the dance management and dance pedagogy concentrations. (photo by Ryan Barrett, courtesy OCU)

So you want to be a dance major? Wonderful! But in college, your choices don't end there. Pedagogy, kinesiology, arts management: What can those different tracks help you with? Choosing a college concentration that opens up multiple career options is a smart move, setting you up for not only an exciting performance career, but also a lifetime of opportunities in the arts. Perhaps you're hoping to start your own dance company, but you have no idea how to run a business—a dance management degree will put you on the right path. Or maybe you want to keep performing while also teaching at local studios—dance pedagogy can help you build an exciting resumé. Read on for a breakdown of what to expect within various dance-program concentrations.

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Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Royal Bridges, courtesy Felecia Hansley

You could say that Donielle "Lil Dee Dee" Hansley joined the family business: His dad (a dancer and recording artist) was his first dance teacher, and his three older siblings are a circus artist, a rapper, and a singer. Dee Dee's been carving out a path in the entertainment world since the tender age of 6, when he first toured with kid rapper MattyB. In fact, you probably recognize his hard-hitting energy and undeniable charisma from Step Up: High Water, Tyler Perry's If Loving You Is Wrong, Lip Sync Battle Shorties, or—super-casual—dancing behind Usher and Chris Brown.

My mentors have always told me, Never give up on yourself. Of course there'll come times when you're like, 'Maybe dance isn't for me. I'm probably better at something else.' There's always someone better than you are—so what? Work 10 times harder so you're better than they are! —Lil Dee Dee

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Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Andrew Ross, Courtesy Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Where in the world is Miko Fogarty? Just three years ago, she seemed unstoppable. After being featured in the 2011 ballet documentary First Position, she became a teenage social-media star, winning top prizes at competitions in Moscow and Varna and at Youth American Grand Prix, and dancing in galas around the world. Last most of us heard, it was 2015 and she had just joined the corps of Birmingham Royal Ballet—and even appeared on Dance Spirit's cover. A year later, she dropped off the ballet radar.

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Just for Fun
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Dance teachers have to deal with a lot. While open communication with your teacher is obviously key, lame excuses for less-than-great behavior are guaranteed to get on her nerves. Always avoid these seven excuses that will 100 percent get your dance teacher's blood boiling.

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Just for Fun
via @younmephoto on Instagram

Summer's coming to a close which means it's time to head back to school and back to the studio. And though we have no doubt that you'll log a lot of dancing this fall, every dancer knows that there's bound to be down time in between technique classes, rehearsals, stretching, and waiting to be picked up. So give your Insta feed a break and check out these dance-tastic books that'll not only entertain you, but might even teach you a thing or two.

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Popular
via @younmephoto on Instagram

Summer's coming to a close which means it's time to head back to school and back to the studio. And though we have no doubt that you'll log a lot of dancing this fall, every dancer knows that there's bound to be down time in between technique classes, rehearsals, stretching, and waiting to be picked up. So give your Insta feed a break and check out these dance-tastic books that'll not only entertain you, but might even teach you a thing or two.

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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,

I'm on the fence about switching studios. My current studio is pretty relaxed about technique, but it's like a second home to me—I have so much fun with all my friends there. There's another studio nearby that's much more serious technically. I want to dance professionally when I grow up. Should I choose the school that has a great community, or the one that will help me reach my dream faster?

Erin

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How To
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Picture this: You're in rehearsal, and you finally get a move the way the choreographer wants it—except that it makes your back twinge each time. Should you say you're in pain, or should you suck it up and keep going? You don't want to injure yourself, but you also don't want to jeopardize your role.

The dance world often teaches students to be quiet and obedient around authority figures. That said, there are definitely instances when you need to speak your mind. Try these tips to navigate sticky situations.

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Dancer to Dancer
Jo Rowan (front) teaching ballet class at Oklahoma City University (photo by Shane Bevel, courtesy OCU)

Let's say this right up front: Everyone agrees that a talented dancer can move to NYC or L.A., start auditioning, and get booked without a dance degree. And graduating from a program doesn't guarantee that you'll have a successful dance career. So, what weight does a degree carry in the industry? "The reality today is that if you don't get a degree, you will be at a disadvantage," says Dr. Sally R. Sommer, director of the Florida State University dance department's semester-long immersion program in NYC. Proactive and engaged college students become more adaptable, thoughtful, and resilient dancers. Combine these qualities with a deeper understanding of dance history, practical experience with the professional expectations of choreographers, and access to a growing community of peers, guest artists, faculty, and alumni, and it's easy to see why a degree could mean more doors are open to you.

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Just for Fun

In case you missed it, our favorite actress/dance fangirl Jennifer Garner hit the studio this weekend to brush up on her technique (stars, they really are just like us). And the end result might be even better than Garner's #TutuTuesday posts. At the request of American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, Garner took to her Instagram story to participate in Lil Buck's #GoinInCirclesChallenge.

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