Dancer to Dancer
Walnut Hill School for the Arts students (photo by Liza Voll, courtesy Walnut Hill School for the Arts)

For some high school students, the thrill of dancing away from home doesn't end when the summer is over. In fact, those who attend residential performing arts high schools live in dorms, work with esteemed guest artists and faculty, and spend half of every school day in a dance studio—from September to May. Offering a true conservatory experience, these schools can transform your technique and provide unique performing and choreographic opportunities.

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Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Lee Gumbs, courtesy Chantel Aguirre

Contemporary dancer Chantel Aguirre's powerful presence and regal, fluid movement can enchant audiences in seconds—and have helped make her a commercial-world icon. The Santa Cruz, CA, native started dancing at age 2 at her mother's studio, Ballet Repertoire Theatre. When she was a freshman in high school, she enrolled at the San Francisco Ballet School while also competing with the Dance Company of San Francisco. Since then, she's worked with artists including Taylor Swift, Christina Perri, Beyoncé, Carrie Underwood, and Adele, and with companies including Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Justin Giles' SoulEscape, Billy Bell's Lunge Dance Collective, and Stacey Tookey's Still Motion. Currently, you can catch her touring with Travis Wall's Shaping Sound and teaching at NUVO.—Courtney Bowers

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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
Illustration by Clare Mallison

For 14-year-old Rose*, who trains at a prestigious ballet academy, social media is a double-edged sword. "I value it because I can keep in contact with people I meet at intensives," she says, "and it's also cool to follow dancers I look up to, who inspire me when I have down days." But on the flip side, "there's constant comparison," Rose says. "A friend might post a video of herself, and when I see it, I worry—am I improving enough? There's so much talent out there, it's easy to view yourself unfavorably."

If social media is giving you anxiety, it's time to take a step back and reassess. That doesn't necessarily mean going off the grid—though in extreme cases, logging out completely might be the answer. Here's how to keep your social media experience from taking a toll on your mental health.

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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 bowlegged, which I didn't think was a big deal, but now that I'm a more advanced dancer, I'm self-conscious about it—especially in first position, where it's really obvious. Is there anything I can do to camouflage my bow legs? Will I end up injured?

Cami

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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,

My feet naturally sickle when I point them, especially when I'm moving quickly or jumping. How can I fight the sickle?

Kelsey

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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,

My sister and I both dance at the same studio, which used to be really fun. But as we've gotten more serious about our training, things have become tense. We're competitive people, and since we're only a couple of years apart in age, we're often up for the same parts, which leads to a lot of awkwardness and frustration. What should we do?

Rachel

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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 shy and introverted, so I have a hard time opening up onstage, and a really hard time improvising. What steps can I take to push through my shyness?

Jenny

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Health & Body
Thinkstock

After a dance-packed day, it's not uncommon for your lower body to be swollen. This phenomenon isn't anything to worry about, but it can be uncomfortable. Luckily, there are a number of easy fixes—and ways to prevent swelling altogether. Dance Spirit turned to Jessica Lassiter, DPT, OCS, ATC, CMPT, a physical therapist and certified athletic trainer in NYC, for a crash course on how to stop the swell.

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Dancer to Dancer
Ashley Ellis in Mikko Nissinen's The Nutcracker (photo by Liza Voll, courtesy Boston Ballet)

Boston Ballet principal Ashley Ellis' dancing is the perfect pairing of ethereal grace and punchy musicality. The Torrance, CA, native began training at South Bay Ballet at age 6, and attended the School of American Ballet summer program in 1998. In 2001, she was accepted into American Ballet Theatre's Studio Company, and the following year, she joined ABT's corps de ballet. In 2007, she became a founding member of Corella Ballet Castilla y León in Spain, under the direction of Angel Corella. Three years later, she headed back to the States and danced with Sarasota Ballet before joining Boston Ballet as a second soloist in 2011. In 2013, she was promoted to principal dancer. Catch her performing this season in the company's Nutcracker. —Courtney Bowers

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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 don't know what to do about my chest! Over the past year, I've gone from a 32B to a 32D, and it's awful. No leotards fit me, I'm self-conscious in all my costumes, and I even feel like it's affecting my sense of balance. Is there any hope for a well-endowed dancer?

Cassandra

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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 so tired of my teacher playing favorites. I'm a strong dancer, but there's another talented girl in my class who's always the center of attention. I feel like the rest of us get fewer corrections because the teacher's focused on her. Should I switch studios?

Rachel

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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 just started pointe, and I'm having a hard time getting up and over the boxes of my shoes. It's not so bad at barre, but in the center, I really struggle. Do you have any tips?

Aimee

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How To
Boston Ballet's Misa Kuranga suggests picking different places to spot along your manège's route. (photo by Liza Voll Photography, courtesy Boston Ballet)

A beautifully executed manège—a whirlwind series of steps performed in a circular pattern around the stage—can create a powerful, dramatic climax onstage. But while a manège is always impressive to watch, it isn't always easy to perfect. Even the pros struggle with them: Boston Ballet principal Misa Kuranaga remembers one rehearsal of John Cranko's Romeo and Juliet where she "cut through center stage, and didn't even realize it!" during a manège of sauts de basque and step-up turns.

So, how can you master manèges? The secret lies in figuring out how to keep your balance while constantly changing direction.

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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've been a ballet person my whole life, but now I'd really like to start pursuing musical theater. What do I need to do to make that a realistic option?

Laura

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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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