The terrific—and terrifically tall—Emily Kikta of New York City Ballet in Justin Peck's Everywhere We Go (Paul Kolnik, courtesy New York City Ballet)

Help! I'm Too Tall!

Has a recent growth spurt left you towering over your classmates? Here's how to make the most of the inches you've been given.

(Struggling with the opposite problem? Click here!)

Why Being Tall Rocks

"Having length is a gift," says Marisa Albee, a faculty member at Pacific Northwest Ballet School in Seattle. Your lanky limbs can create clear, elegant lines in space. You probably excel at adagio and waltz work, moving across the floor with grace and ease. Plus, "Tall dancers can have a commanding presence onstage," Albee says. "You're going to stand out, so you can't dance like you're hiding in the corps. You have to act like the principal in the room." Nan Giordano, the artistic director of Giordano Dance Chicago, agrees: "When a tall person dances into his or her size—rather than curling over or trying to shrink—the effect is so statuesque and powerful." Owning your height can make you a force to be reckoned with in class, auditions and performances. Stand tall!

Fitness Fixes for Tall Dancers

"Tall dancers are often flexible, but have to build strength and stability," says physical therapist Michelle Rodriguez, owner of Manhattan Physio Group in NYC. "If you're really long and you're trying to move fast, your feet and legs might feel floppy. Also, tall dancers sometimes slump and slouch in an effort to mask their height." Here are the exercises she suggests for the vertically gifted.

To fight the flop:

1) Stand in parallel first position.

2) Dégagé front and land on that foot, toe-ball-heel.

3) Activate your core and keep your spine long as you push back onto your standing leg.

4) Close, and repeat to the side and back.

5) Repeat with the other leg, and then repeat the whole exercise turned out.

This exercise will help build strength, endurance and speed in your ankles and feet. It'll also boost your core stability. "Keep your spine moving through space as one unit," Rodriguez advises. "Holding your core will help you move quickly."

To beat the slump:

1) Tie a Thera-Band to the leg of a barre at floor level, creating the knot in the center of the band so the band's two ends are free. Lie on your stomach with the Thera-Band just above your head.

2) Grab one end of the Thera-Band with each hand and pull the ends down toward you, widening your elbows to form a W with your arms. (Your head is the midpoint of the W.)

3) Release and repeat.

Strengthening your back muscles will teach your body to hold itself upright. Improved posture might also lead to a confidence boost!

A Tall Dancer's Story: Emily Kikta, New York City Ballet

I'm five-foot-ten, which I believe makes me the tallest woman in New York City Ballet. I had my growth spurt early, and it was definitely awkward to be so tall at 13. At the time, I was the only tall kid in my classes at the Thomas Dance Studio and Ballet Academy of Pittsburgh. My teachers weren't harsh, but they pushed me. I had no excuse to be behind the music or to lose my balance—I had to be able to do what everyone else was doing.

The only time I felt uncomfortable with my height was when I first transferred to the School of American Ballet at 15. SAB was a new environment, and I didn't yet know if being tall was a good thing! One correction I got a lot was that I had to travel more. With long legs, you have to move twice as much; you can't do grand allégro and only get halfway across the studio. I had to be more expansive, on top of moving quickly. I also had issues with partnering. My first year at SAB, I was paired with guys who were shorter than me, because they hadn't grown yet. I had to learn not to just do everything myself, but also to collaborate with my partners despite our differences in height.

Now, I love being tall. I've worked hard to be able to move as quickly and precisely as the shorter girls. Challenging myself to dance like people who are more compact than I am has helped me get to this point. Height is not an excuse. It's an asset.

Latest Posts

Getty Images

How to Support the Black Dance Community, Beyond Social Media

The dance community's response to the death of George Floyd was immediate and sweeping on social media. Ballet companies, including Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre, and New York City Ballet all pledged that #BalletRelevesBlackLives, an online campaign to show solidarity with the Black community. Dance artists, including Desmond Richardson and Martha Nichols, used their social platforms to make meaningful statements about racial inequality. Among the most vocal supporters have been dance students, who continue to share the faces and gut-wrenching last words of Black men and women who have died in police custody on their Instagram feeds and Stories.

The work we're doing on social media as a community is important and necessary—and we should keep at it. But now, that momentum must also carry us into taking action. Because to be a true ally, action is required.

A responsible ally amplifies Black voices­­. They choose to listen rather than speak. And they willingly throw their support, and, if they can, their dollars, behind Black dancers and Black dance organizations. Here are some ways you can do your part.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Listen to Black Dancers Speaking Out Against Racial Injustice

This weekend, protests against racially-charged police brutality—spurred by the unjust killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, Sean Reed, and so many others—swept the country. Supporters, including many of members of the dance world, took to social media to share their thoughts, and express their grief.

As allies, one of the first actions we can take in this moment is to listen to and amplify the voices of Black members of our dance community. Here are some of the most powerful posts written by Black dancers.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Just a few of our special Class of 2020 digital covers

Congrats to Our 2020 Dance Grad Cover Stars!

We're thrilled to be honoring members of the great Dance Class of 2020 on special digital covers. One new cover star was revealed every day during the month of May. Take a look at all of our winners below!

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search