Life-Changing Summer Programs: Evelyn Kocak, Stacy Martorana, Mayumi Enokibara and Stephanie Klemons
There's nothing like the thrill of attending a summer program. Getting to experience new teachers and classes can make a world of difference in your technique. Meeting other students who are as obsessed with dance as you are can lead to lifelong friendships. And sometimes, a summer program can alter the course of your dance career. Just ask pros Evelyn Kocak, Stacy Martorana, Mayumi Enokibara and Stephanie Klemons, who shared their life-changing summer intensive experiences with Dance Spirit.
Between my freshman and sophomore years at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, I switched from the ballet department to the modern and contemporary program. My teachers had been encouraging me to change majors, though I was hesitant. I'd only taken a few modern classes as a ballet student, and while I'd excelled in them, I was scared. So the next summer, I went to the Bates Dance Festival in Lewiston, ME.
It was a truly eye-opening summer. I'd never experienced so many different styles of modern and contemporary dance. There was this whole world I hadn't even known about. Each class was exhilarating. I was sweating, dancing as hard as I could; I felt free. It confirmed that I was on the right track—there was a sense that this was where I was meant to be.
I also learned how much classical technique is necessary for modern. I figured out how to combine my love of ballet with these new ways of moving. That's been useful in my professional career—Mark Morris' work is so precise and technically demanding. At Mark Morris Dance Group, we take ballet class every day with Mark, and I love starting the day that way.
Martorana performing with MMDG. (Melanie Futorian, courtesy MMDG)
I was 15 when I first attended the Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell intensive. But Suzanne had been my idol for a while. I read her autobiography when I was 12, and I knew I wanted to follow in her footsteps—to attend the School of American Ballet, join New York City Ballet and perform George Balanchine's ballets.
If you want to be a Balanchine dancer, Suzanne is one of the greatest sources to learn from. The program was pretty small—about 30 dancers—and she was the only teacher. I got to develop a real relationship with her, in an intimate environment, which was so special.
Working with Suzanne solidified my love for Balanchine technique, and encouraged me to join a company that appreciates Balanchine dancers. I actually returned to Exploring Ballet over the next three summers. Before joining Pennsylvania Ballet (a company with roots in the Balanchine tradition), I was a NYCB apprentice and danced with the Suzanne Farrell Ballet for a year.
Kocak in rehearsal. (Alexander Iziliaev, courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet)
Mayumi Enokibara, Corps de ballet, Miami City Ballet (and cast member, “Strictly Ballet" Season 2)
I attended Miami City Ballet School's summer intensive for the first time in 2011. Getting to take classes from so many company members—like Patricia Delgado and Jennifer Kronenberg—was amazing. It was my first time learning Balanchine technique, which was pretty shocking. I'd never experienced it back home in Brazil. But I fell in love, hard.
I also learned to speak English that summer. I had studied it a little in school, but I wasn't strong. At first, it was so hard to understand teachers and communicate with anyone. But the friends I made during the program were so helpful. They'd correct me if I said something wrong, so I learned quickly.
The summer program was five weeks, and in my fourth week, I was asked to stay at the school year-round, with a full scholarship. I knew there weren't opportunities like that in my hometown in Brazil, so I was extremely excited. My parents were worried—I was only 14—but they knew how much it meant to me. Two years later, I became an apprentice with Miami City Ballet, and two years after that I was asked to join the main company. It's been a dream come true.
Enokibara performing with MCB. (Marissa Matluck, courtesy MCB)
Stephanie Klemons, Dance captain, swing and associate choreographer, Hamilton
As a kid, my summers were spent at sleep-away camps, including Buck's Rock Performing and Creative Arts Camp in New Milford, CT. When I was 18, I was hired to return to Buck's Rock as a dance counselor—but when I got there, it turned out I was going to be the resident musical theater choreographer. I had no idea what that entailed! I'd never created dance for a musical. By the end of camp, I'd choreographed a number of shows, including Jesus Christ Superstar and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
That summer really sparked my interest in choreo. I majored in dance and choreography at Rutgers University's Mason Gross School of the Arts. The year after graduation, I met Andy Blankenbuehler at an audition for In the Heights, and later I became the associate choreographer for the show's first national tour. But I often think back to my sink-or-swim summer at Buck's Rock. These days, if I'm not sure I can accomplish something, or if a new experience seems overwhelming, I remember that sometimes, you have to just go for it.
Klemons rocking out on an NYC rooftop. (Kamille Upshaw, courtesy Klemons)
It's almost 2019 and the ballroom dance scene is positively booming! From prestigious world championships to TV shows, kids are at the core of all this hip-shaking action—and we're so here for it. These eight up-and-comers in particular are shaping the field. They're the next generation of superstars to make the leap from technically exquisite ballroom-ites to bona fide celebrities.
Every year, our friends over at Dance Magazine select 25 standout dancers, choreographers, and companies for their "25 to Watch" feature. The list is always overflowing with talent, but this year's iteration was especially exciting—four of the featured dancers have graced the pages of DS at one point or another: former cover star Aran Bell, DS Cover Model Search semi-finalist Sophie Miklosovic, Jasmine Harper, and "You Should Know" alum Easton Payne. It was a totally full-circle moment to see each of them score a coveted spot on this list. Check out their profiles below (which originally appeared in Dance Magazine), and major congratulations to everyone else selected this year!
Maddie Ziegler is the kween of dance these days and it seems like there's no move this teen dancing machine can't do...or is there? In a recent video with Teen Vogue, Maddie shows us just how lit her dance skills are by demonstrating 10 iconic music video dance routines. From Britney Spears to Michael Jackson, the "Dance Moms" star gets her groove on as she dissects some of the most popular dances of all time. Though Maddie is a great dancer, it's pretty entertaining watching her do moves that might be a little outside of her comfort zone.
The Nutcracker has become an essential part of the holiday season—not to mention a part of most dancers' DNA. These days, the ballet is a beloved tradition, and the lifeblood of many dance companies, whose budgets depend on its reliably great ticket sales. But did you know that it was a flop when it first premiered in Russia? Or that George Balanchine himself once played Drosselmeyer on TV? Here's a timeline of the rich history of The Nutcracker.
Showstopper sees all different dancers from across the world at their dance competitions. They understand sometimes it can hard to know how to stand out among the 100s of dancers that perform on their stages.
When Hannahlei Cabanilla rolled up to her Dance Spirit cover shoot—just 36 hours after being named the "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 15 champion—she looked impossibly fresh-faced and well-rested. The Anaheim Hills, CA, native may have had "about eight blisters," as she joked, on her feet; she may barely have slept since the big win; and she may have just performed on "Live with Kelly and Ryan." But she jumped right on set, and quite literally didn't stop jumping for the next five hours. The fabulous technique, irresistible personality, and (especially) boundless energy that earned her the title of America's Favorite Dancer were all on full display.
So what was it actually like for Hannahlei to compete on the show she'd watched since she was a tiny dancer—and what's next for the now–19-year-old? Read on.
On March 30, 1958, at the 92nd Street Y in NYC, dancer Alvin Ailey and a group of African-American dancers performed onstage together for the first time. Since then, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the company Ailey formed, has become legendary in the dance world. To commemorate its 60th anniversary, Ailey has dubbed its annual City Center season "Ailey 60." From Nov. 28–Dec. 30 choreographers including Ronald K. Brown, Jessica Lang, and Rennie Harris will present premieres, alongside the works of current artistic director Robert Battle, Judith Jamison, and over two dozen pieces by Alvin Ailey himself. We asked a few of the company members to share what the anniversary means to them.
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Colder weather is (finally) here, which means it's time for a good dance movie binge. But which iconic films should you put on? To narrow your search, we went ahead and ranked 30 of the greatest dance movies of all time.
Of course, we know a list like this is bound to be controversial—so if you disagree with our lineup, have at it in the comments!
Last night was a Christmas miracle of epic proportions for one lucky couple on "Dancing with the Stars: Juniors" as they took home the Mirror Star Trophy. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Four couples competed for the title of champion and each and every performance was lit! With two routines—one holiday themed freestyle and one repeat dance from the season that included their mentors (plot twist!), these dance darlings battled it out on the dance floor. It was truly a night to remember as we enjoyed some of the best performances of the season that got us in the holiday spirit.
For some it's a holiday tradition, for others its an iconic spectacle, but no matter the reason, more than 1 million people will watch the Rockettes perform in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular each year. And though the production has been around since 1933, much of what goes on behind those velvety curtains and intricate sets remains a mystery. To curb our curiosity and find out what ensues when these leggy ladies aren't doling out their sky-high kicks, we got a backstage tour from the legends themselves.
From hair and makeup, to warm-up exercises, and costume quick changes (the fastest quick change in the show is a #mindblowing 75 seconds, by the way) we got a glimpse into the glamorous (and sometimes not so glamorous) world of the Rockettes.
Every scrap of news coming from the highly-anticipated West Side Story remake has been nothing short of thrilling, tbh. First, there was the open casting call here in NYC for dancers to play the Jets and Sharks. Next, we heard the unsurprising-yet-awesome news that Justin Peck will choreograph the new movie. Now, there's possibly the most exciting news flash yet: You (yes, YOU) could play the star-making role of Maria opposite the dreamy Ansel Elgort as Tony!
The holidays are just around the corner and that means it's time to get your wish lists finalized. And while we have no doubt that stylish leos and cozy warm-ups will find their way onto your list, we think you'll want to consider adding some of these lit dance books to your holiday lineup, too. From revamped Nutcracker tales to biographies of your favorite dance stars, we've rounded up the latest and greatest books that every dancer will want to see in their stockings this season.
Cat Cogliandro's genius is turning paradoxes into powerful art. In her gestural contemporary choreography, vulnerability becomes strength and imperfection is beauty. Born and raised in Houston, TX, Cogliandro earned a BFA in dance from SUNY Purchase before moving to L.A. Cogliandro now teaches in L.A. and nationally, and choreographs for her company CATASTROPHE!, which was the second runner-up at the 2015 Capezio A.C.E. Awards. Here, Cogliandro tells DS where she finds inspiration. —Helen Rolfe