Teen Vogue’s Amy Astley on "Strictly Ballet"

Jasmine Perry with Alec and Victor of "Strictly Ballet"
Photo Will Davidson/Teen Vogue

You already know just how much we love it when the fashion world enters ours (excluding the recent Free People, um, snafu). So it’s no surprise that we’re ecstatic about Teen Vogue’s newest venture: a web series (premiering today!) following six students at the School of American Ballet. Also awesome? The show lets us catch up with Jasmine Perry, who, since making her debut on "Dance212," has shed her braces and continued to develop into an utterly gorgeous dancer.

Strictly Ballet” is an online companion to Teen Vogue’s print feature, “Rhythm Nation,” which highlights some of the freshest faces in dance today (including Lil Buck)—all of them dressed to the nines, naturally. Hopefully this dance-in-the-mainstream streak continues. And it just might: Turns out dancers have an unexpected advocate in Teen Vogue editor in chief Amy Astley, who's responsible for the magazine's latest foray into the world of intense ballet training. As a teen, she was a bunhead herself, studying at the Joffrey Ballet in NYC and at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet's summer program. Dance Spirit caught up with Astley to get the inside scoop on “Strictly Ballet.” (You can watch the extended trailer and first episode below!)

SAB student Emily wears a Rebecca Taylor dress.
Photo Will Davidson/Teen Vogue

Dance Spirit: Why did you want to make “Strictly Ballet”?

Amy Astley: I’ve been asking myself what I can give back to ballet, since I got so much from it. And I thought that the best thing I can do is promote it.

Ballet dancers should get a lot more attention in pop culture than they get. They’re so beautiful! And I find dancers to be insanely grateful. Their humility is refreshing.

DS: What did your ballet training teach you that you still use today?

AA: In ballet, you can never say “I can’t.” You have to work through everything, so you learn how to do your best even when you’re extremely challenged. I say this to my kids and to the people I work with. The moment I find myself thinking I can’t, I’m like, “Wait a second. You can! What’s wrong, what’s the problem, and how can I work through it?”

DS: What’s your goal for the series?

AA: I really hope that people—who aren't necessarily all bunheads—will get engaged with this series. I’ve definitely spent enough time in my life watching movies about baseball, and I don’t know much about that sport. I think ballet should be the same way: It should be fascinating on its own, even to people who don’t know a lot about it.

(Watch the extended trailer for "Strictly Ballet" above.)

DS: How will “Strictly Ballet” be different from AOL's “city.ballet.” or The CW’s “Breaking Pointe”?

AA: I didn’t want a reality show that dug into the super-personal aspects of the dancers' lives. It’s just meant to celebrate the kids as aspiring artists, and highlight their extreme dedication and talent. It’s amazing to be interviewing kids who are 14 and 17 who know exactly what they want to do.

(L to R) Victor and Alec of "Strictly Ballet"
Photo Will Davidson/Teen Vogue

DS: As a ballet fan, what has been your favorite part about this process?

AA: I got to meet Peter Martins, which was such a great thrill since I grew up watching him dance with Suzanne Farrell. Peter Martins was one of my all-time favorite dancers, along with Suzanne, Natalia Makarova, and Baryshnikov, of course.

SAB's Mimi wears a Louis Vuitton jacket and headdress in Teen Vogue.
Photo Will Davidson/Teen Vogue

DS: In your editor’s note this month, you write that you quit ballet at 18. How did you make that decision?

AA: During my summers at CPYB, I saw what the talent was like out there since I was dancing with girls from NYC and SAB. I was in their level, but I was never really as good—I was sort of at the bottom of the top. I didn’t have what it took to be in the companies I wanted to join, and the regional ballet scene wasn’t as strong then as it is now. It was an extremely hard time for me. I had barely even applied to colleges. I did end up going to school back in Michigan, but I can relate to students who aren’t sure if they’re ready for professional life, as well as to those who aren’t sure if they even want it.

DS: Knowing what you know now, what would you tell those dancers?

AA: Whatever you decide, remember that studying your art has been time well spent. You get so much from those years. And keep dancing if you love it. Whether you’re studying modern, tap, jazz or ballet, the training is great for your brain and your body. You’ll probably grow up to be one of the people supporting the arts and keeping ballet companies alive—I go to the ballet very regularly, to see both NYCB and American Ballet Theatre. I just love it. I never got ballet out of my system.

 

Watch the first episode here:

Latest Posts


Because there's never been a better time to binge-watch "Bunheads" (via Freeform)

5 of the Danciest TV Shows Streaming Right Now (and Where to Stream Them)

We're about two months into #SocialDisDancing, and let's be real—while we all wish we were spending every spare minute stretching, cross-training, or taking online classes, sometimes we just need to Netflix and chill.

We figure, if you're going to be watching TV anyways, why not make it dancy TV? After all, watching pros dance on-screen is basically dance class homework...or at least we'll say it is. Here are five of the danciest TV shows for you to watch—and where to find them.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
The cast of Center Stage in a promotional poster (courtesy Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

The Making of "Center Stage," as Remembered by Its Dance Stars

Whether you first watched it in a theater two decades ago or on Netflix last week, odds are you feel a deep connection to Center Stage. The cult classic, which premiered May 12, 2000, is arguably the greatest dance film ever made. (Dance obsessives might take issue with the "cult" before "classic," not to mention the "dance" before "film.") Jody Sawyer's ballet journey—which combines oh-wow-I've-had-those-blisters realism with wait-does-she-have-magic-color-changing-pointe-shoes fantasy—stands the test of time, early-aughts fashion be darned. We've memorized its highly quotable lines, laughed with (and, gently, at) its heroes, and been inspired by its sincere love of dance and dancers.

To celebrate Center Stage's 20th anniversary, we asked five of its dance stars to talk through their memories of the filming process. Here are their stories of on-set bonding, post-puke kissing scenes, and life imitating art imitating life.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

2020 Dance Grads: We Want to Put You on Our Cover!

Hello, all you members of the great Dance Class of 2020. With the world on lockdown, this hasn't been the graduation season you expected. You likely weren't able to go to prom; your commencement ceremonies have probably been delayed or canceled; and you might not have been able to take your planned-for final bow onstage.

Since you're missing out on so much, we'd like to give you a virtual ovation, to recognize all you've accomplished. And what's the highest honor we can bestow? The cover of Dance Spirit!

Here's the plan:

  • If you're a high school or college senior dancer, use this form to submit your information and dance portrait.
  • Each day during the month of May, we'll create a digital Dance Spirit cover starring one of you, chosen at random—31 covers in total.
  • At the end of the month, we'll create a "commencement video" featuring even more of your submitted dance photos.
  • 100 of you, selected by lottery, will also receive free one-year subscriptions to the print magazine.

Merde, 2020 graduates, as you dance your way into the future!

High School and College Senior Dancers: Submit Your Photo Here

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search