Tilt Overload

Kaitlynn Edgar's luscious layout (photo by Erin Baiano)

Everyone understands the appeal of the tilt: It’s flashy, it’s dramatic and it shows off the extension you’ve worked so hard for. But when it’s time to freestyle, many contemporary dancers start tilting all over the place. “To me, tilts have become less impressive over time, because now everyone does them,” says Mandy Moore, “So You Think You Can Dance” choreographer and JUMP Dance Convention contemporary teacher. “They’ve become a circus trick—the ‘wow’ factor is gone.”

Feeling the tilt guilt? DS to the rescue: Here are three other moves that are just as exciting, and just as flattering to your extension. You don’t have to erase tilts from your vocabulary, but try mixing these in once in a while!

1. The Layout

This is a jazz oldie that can translate into contemporary gold. “Nobody does them anymore, but as the climax of a phrase, they’re really effective,” Moore says. The slight bend in the bottom leg lets you crank your working leg impressively high, and the deep backbend adds extra drama.

Daniella La Rosa's spectacular side leap (photo by Erin Baiano)

2. The Side Leap

“When a side leap is done well, it looks like you’re just floating,” Moore says. She adds that side leaps are great for less-bendy dancers, since jumping requires the short, fast-twitch muscles that Gumbys tend to lack. And since it’s only viewed from the front, a side leap can create the illusion of a super-flat side-split—even if you don’t quite have one yet.

3. The Hands-on-Floor Penchée

When your hands are on the floor, you can push into them as you battement back. That gives you a lot of leverage—which means you’ll be able to get your leg higher than usual. (For that I’m-so-flexible-I’m-practically-a-contortionist look, try bending the working knee after your leg reaches the top of the battement.)

Hayden Hopkins' perfect penchée (photo by Nathan Sayers)

The Right Way to Tilt

Mandy Moore doesn’t object to tilts when they’re used in a way that makes sense musically and choreographically. “Rarely does a piece of music seem to be saying, ‘Stop here and tilt!’ ” she says. “But when a tilt is incorporated smoothly into a phrase, it can be beautiful. If you do a jump that lands in a coupé and progresses into a développé tilt, for example, that looks gorgeous, because the tilt follows logically from the preceding movements. And if the tilt hits a high point in the music, that’s even better. You don’t want a tilt to be a cheap thrill that takes you out of the world you’re creating onstage.”

Latest Posts


Viktorina Kapitonova in "Swan Lake Bath Ballet" (photo by Ryan Capstick, courtesy Corey Baker Dance)

Please Enjoy the Quarantine Genius of “Swan Lake Bath Ballet”

That old saying about limitations breeding creativity—hat tip to Orson Welles—has never felt more relevant than in these lockdown days. Here's the latest brilliant dance project born (hatched?) of quarantine restrictions: "Swan Lake Bath Ballet," a contemporary take on the classic featuring 27 A-list ballet dancers performing from their own bathtubs.

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

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search