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Oh, internet challenges. We don't know who starts them or where they come from, but we definitely love it when dancers get involved.

The past few weeks have seen the rise of the #bottlecapchallenge, which involves someone kicking the top off of a plastic bottle. The slow-motion videos show the cap neatly spinning off. Of course, everyone from dogs to celebs have tried their hand (er, foot?) at the challenge. But dancers have taken it to the next level.

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Just for Fun
Aran Bell (photo by Nathan Sayers)

Most years, American Ballet Theatre closes its spring Met season with a sweet surprise: company promotions. Artistic director Kevin McKenzie just announced that two members of the corps de ballet—Aran Bell and Joo Won Ahn—are being promoted to soloist, effective September 1.

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Ballet
Michaela de Prince and Daniel Camargo (courtesy Dutch National Ballet)

Have we mentioned that we love ballet movies? Thankfully, Dutch National Ballet just gave us something new to look forward to. The company announced today that filming is now underway for Coppelia, a new star-studded fusion of animation and ballet set to be released at the end of 2020. And, wait for it... Michaela DePrince will be dancing Swanilda, with DNB principal Daniel Camargo as her Franz.

The standout cast also includes DNB principal Igone de Jongh, former Bolshoi and Royal Ballet star Irek Mukhamedov, Dutch dancer and actor Jan Kooijman and English prima ballerina Darcey Bussell.

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Ballet
2019 YoungArts finalist Kali Kleiman. Photo by Em Watson, Courtesy YoungArts.

If you're looking for something to add to your summer to-do list alongside "wash smelly ballet bag," or "burn heinous recital costume," consider adding "apply to prestigious national arts competition" as a line item. Now through October 11, the National YoungArts Foundation is accepting applications for its annual YoungArts competition.

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Dance News
Still via YouTube

American Ballet Theatre principal James Whiteside is known for more than just his uber-charismatic presence on the ballet stage: He doubles as both the drag queen Ühu Betch and the pop star JbDubs. Whiteside's newest musical release, titled WTF, came out last week, and is for sure his most ballet-filled song to date. Both the lyrics and the choreography are jam-packed with bunhead references, from the Rose Adagio to Haglund's Heel to a framed portrait of George Balanchine. Not to mention the fact that he and his four backup dancers (Matthew Poppe, Douane Gosa, Maxfield Haynes and Gianni Goffredo) absolutely kill it in pointe shoes.

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Dance Videos
ABT dancers in Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream. Courtesy ABT.

Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream, which American Ballet Theatre debuted in 2017, tells the story of a young boy who eats too many sweets, falls into a delirium, and is rescued by Princess Praline, who brings him to a world inhabited by fantastical confectionary characters. Last week the chefs at New York's Serendipity 3, the famous Upper East Side eatery best known for its frozen hot chocolate, tried their hand at bringing Ratmansky's ballet to life (or at least to the table). The result is Whipped Cream - The Sundae, available to diners from May 7-July 13.

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Ballet
Screenshot via YouTube

Miko Fogarty is no stranger to the spotlight. But when the former comp star and Birmingham Royal Ballet dancer took the stage at University of California, Berkeley last month, it wasn't in a tutu and pointe shoes. Instead Fogarty, dressed smartly in a black blazer and turtleneck, was there to give a TEDx talk titled "A Ballerina's Second Act: My Journey of Rediscovery."

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Ballet
Gabriel Figueredo in a variation from Raymonda. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.

This week, over 1,000 young hopefuls gathered in New York City for the Youth America Grand Prix finals, giving them the chance to compete for scholarships and contracts to some of the world's top ballet schools and companies. Roughly 85 dancers made it to the final round at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater on Wednesday. Today, the 20th anniversary of YAGP came to a close at the competition's awards ceremony. Read on to find out who won!

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Dance News
Ruediger Landmann in class at Queensland Ballet. Jason Starr, Courtesy Queensland Ballet.

Last month, dance writer Siobhan Burke tipped us off in Danceletter, her bi-weekly newsletter, to the fact that a ballet emoji was in the works, and we couldn't wait to share the news with you. Since then, we've gleaned a bit more information, and are now glad to let you know that the "pink loafer with ribbons" image that created an outcry from bunheads worldwide is NOT what the emoji will actually look like. Thankfully, the author of the proposal, Ruediger Landmann, reached out to us to set the record straight.

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Dance News
The new ballet shoe emoji will be released later this year. Image via Emojipedia.

Imagine this scenario: You get a text from a friend just as you're heading into ballet class, and have to answer as quickly as possible. Now, if you were heading into a juggling class, or water polo match, or fencing practice, you'd be able to send a quick emoji in response. But alas, you're forced to type out a full sentence. Because, to the ballet world's collective frustration, There. Is. No. Ballet. Emoji. Until now...

According to Emojipedia, the site for all things emoji-related, a ballet shoe emoji is slated to come out later this year (the exact date hasn't been announced yet) as part of Emoji Version 12.0. The proposal came from Australia-based tech company manager and ballet fan Rüdiger Landmann. Landmann proposed three separate ballet emojis: a ballerina, a male ballet dancer and a pair of pointe shoes. Only the pointe shoe emoji was approved, and we'll be honest, it doesn't look like any pointe shoe we've ever seen. It's more like a pink loafer with ribbons attached. But we're trying not to complain, as this is definitely a (wobbly, given the shape of that shoe) step in the right direction.

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Dance News
Skylar Brandt and Julian Mackay dance Flames of Paris. Vladim Shults, Courtesy Russia-K.

When American Ballet Theatre soloist Skylar Brandt's phone lit up with a message from Julian MacKay last summer, she never could have imagined the journey it would set her on. Brandt barely knew the Mikhailovsky Ballet soloist—they'd met briefly in St. Petersburg a few months earlier—but he wrote that he had a project he thought she'd be perfect for. Brandt was flattered, but assumed she'd be unavailable. She'd just come off an eight-week season with ABT and was in Los Angeles finishing up a tour. But MacKay was insistent. The next morning, Brandt was brushing her teeth when his sister, Maria Sascha Khan, called. "She explained that Julian was in Paris rehearsing for a Russian TV show called 'Big Ballet' and his partner had gotten injured. She asked if I could come to Paris immediately, as the show started filming in Moscow in one week."

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Dance on TV
James Whiteside and Isabella Boylston. Courtesy In the Lights PR.

"Cindies" fans, this one's for you. February 9-10, American Ballet Theatre's James Whiteside and Isabella Boylston are collaborating with pop singer Rozzi to put on a full-length show titled When I Think Of You at The Argyros Performing Arts Center in Ketchum, Idaho. Set to Rozzi's debut album Bad Together, performed live by the singer and her band, the show features choreography by Whiteside, Boylston, ABT's Gemma Bond and commercial dancer Ai Shimatsu with dancing by Whiteside, Boylston and ABT soloist Calvin Royal III.

Whiteside is no stranger to pop music. The principal dancer doubles as singer/songwriter JbDubs, known for choreographing and producing his own wild music videos and performances. We touched base with Whiteside to hear all about how When I Think of You came to be, what this unique show will look like, and how he balances his musical career with his work at ABT.

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Site Network
Isabelle Lapierre in a still from Finding Clara. Courtesy Justice Studios.

Last winter, we told you all about "Finding Clara," a YouTube series produced by tween clothing brand Justice. It followed four BalletMet Academy students cast in BalletMet's The Nutcracker. This year, it gets even better: The heart-melting show has been turned into a full-length documentary. Finding Clara was released today for rental and purchase on Amazon, Google Play and iTunes.

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Dance Videos
From left: (photo by Michael Curley, courtesy Cincinnati Ballet) (courtesy Cincinnati Zoo)

Yesterday Cincinnati Ballet announced an exciting addition to this year's Nutcracker cast: a character based on Fiona, the world's most famous hippopotamus.

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Dance News
(Photo by Rachel Neville, courtesy Ellison Ballet)


Last month, Ellison Ballet Professional Training Program student Elisabeth Beyer came in first place in the senior women's category at the Youth America Grand Prix's New York City Finals. Pointe touched base with the 16-year-old Rye, New York native to hear about her advice for competitions, how she stays calm backstage, and what's next for this young dancer.

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