'Tis the season to be giving!

Without fail, I always get the warm fuzzies during this time of year (you know that adrenaline rush from the appearance of red and green Starbucks Christmas cups and hearing All I Want For Christmas on every other radio station).  New York City is especially festive during the Thanksgiving through New Years Eve stretch—from seeing the striking lights against the evening skyline to appreciating the dazzling store window decorations on Fifth Ave to the sweet smell of the sidewalk vendors’ chestnuts roasting. With so much merriment in the air, it’s also the time to think about giving to those less fortunate. Consider donating dancewear or holding a benefit to raise money for underprivileged dancers. That’s what dancewear company, Repetto, is doing. The Repetto Foundation has recently paired with UNESCO’s Program for the Education of Children in Need. This partnership will lead to two major charities: 1) donations of Repetto dance items to dancers who can’t afford them, and 2) an auction of rare items to raise money to fund selected dance studios. This is a global movement that will help dancers and dance school everywhere. See, one person or organization can make a difference.

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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."

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Dear Katie: What Can I Do to Get More Flexible?

In our "Dear Katie" series, Miami City Ballet 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 a strong dancer, but I don't have a lot of flexibility. I stretch every day, but it feels like I'm getting nowhere. What can I do to get more flexible?


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