The 10 Best Pieces of Advice I've Ever Received

Melissa Hough in Bruce's "Rooster" (Amitava Sarkar)

1. “Leave your ego at the door.” Remembering that phrase reminds me to listen and keep an open mind in class and rehearsal, which makes every experience more interesting and positive.

2. “Push from the back leg.” When I do, my dancing looks lighter and I’m better able to eat up the stage.

3. “Change is natural and inevitable, so enjoy the moment for what it is.” This helps me appreciate the good things in my life—roles, partners, relationships.

4. “Sometimes you just have to get mad at it!” I’ve danced some extremely hard roles, and getting angry at them helps kick me into high gear onstage. I need to get mad to dance the role of Red in Jirˇí Kylián’s Forgotten Land and Myrtha in Giselle.

5. “Don’t expect it to happen—make it happen.” This advice is especially helpful when it comes to actively applying corrections in my everyday work.

6. “Working with your natural rotation will save your hips and strengthen your turnout.” I have torn labral tissue in my hips, which means I can no longer force my turnout—at all. But my strength has improved since I’ve stopped pushing my natural limits.

7. “Take the good. Leave the bad.” It’s important to form opinions about what you like or dislike. When I watch other dancers, I think about what they’re doing that I can to take into my next rehearsal or performance.

8. “It’s all in the music. Just listen to it.” Music is the major driving force behind my dancing. Sometimes the only thing I need to remember onstage is to listen.

9. “Do what you’ve gotta do.” At the end of the day, it’s my body, my career, my life and my responsibility to do everything to the best of my ability.

10. “It’s okay to fall down, but then you’ve got to get up, look sickening and make them eat it.” A little gem from “RuPaul’s Drag Race”!

Latest Posts

Because you know you've always wondered... (Getty Images)

Sounding Off: Here's What Your Favorite Musicians Think of Dance Routines Set to Their Songs

In the competition world, a small group of musicians has attained almost cultlike status, with choreographers turning to their tracks over and over. We know how we feel about these bangers—there's a reason we can't stop dancing to them—but how do the musicians feel about us? We caught up with three contemporary artists whose music has dominated the competition scene recently, and gauged their reactions to the dances set to their life's work.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Challenge Your Friends and Family to This TikTok Ballet Quiz

The latest popular TikTok dance challenge isn't the "Renegade," or set to "Savage," by Megan Thee Stallion—it's testing how much your friends and family really know about what you do in the studio all day.

TikTok user @kayausvlogs recorded herself asking her partner to guess what common ballet terms look like based on the way they sound. The results were...mixed, to say the least—and pretty hilarious. Naturally, the trend went viral, and now dancers everywhere are testing their friends and family and posting the results. Here are some of our favorites.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Project 21 dancers (from left) Selena Hamilton, Gracyn French, and Dyllan Blackburn (Photo by Quinn Wharton; hair and makeup throughout by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.)

How Project 21 Is Shaping the Next Generation of Competition-Dance Standouts

"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search