"The 12 Days of Christmas," featuring the Radio City Rockettes (courtesy MSG Photo)

Dream of performing the Radio City Rockettes' ultra-precise choreography? You'll need to learn some ultra-specific terminology! We asked four first-year Rockettes—fresh from learning all that choreo—to define a few useful phrases from their "secret" language.

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How To
Photo by Erin Baiano

Moody lighting streams across a dance studio. As a pop anthem blasts, a supergroup of strong, confident dancers attacks intricate choreography with finesse and poise. But this isn't the latest class video to achieve viral status—it's footage of the world-famous Radio City Rockettes at work.

For almost a century, the Rockettes have been celebrated for their signature style of precision dance, which combines ballet, tap, and classic jazz to awe-inspiring effect. These 80 women (two casts of 36, plus four swings/dance captains) have always been the undisputed stars of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which is seen by over a million fans each year.

But the Rockettes are out to start some new traditions, too. When opening night of the 87th season of the Spectacular arrives later this month, the curtain will rise on one of the most diverse kicklines in Rockette history—including an unprecedented 13 fresh faces. Meet four of them here.

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Cover Story
Don't end up out of commission because of overuse injuries. (Getty Images)

As dancers, we always want to be doing #TheMost—more turns, springier jumps, higher extensions. We want to cram as many technique classes as we can into our already-busy schedules. But our bones, muscles, and tendons can't always keep pace with those ambitious training goals. That's when overuse injuries (aka "the bane of any elite athlete's existence") tend to show up. Dance Spirit enlisted the experts to help you banish these pesky pains from your hardworking dancer bod.

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Health & Body
Because there's a right (and a wrong) way to stretch (Getty Images)

If you've seen it once, you've seen it a million times: a pic or vid of an über-flexible dancer stretching her enviably limber limbs. She's got her banana feet jammed between a portable barre and the floor, or a Gumby-esque leg propped impossibly high on a dresser. You've probably felt jealous of her wow-worthy flexibility.

But Ashley deLalla, a physical therapist and Pilates instructor with the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters' Dance Medicine Program in Norfolk, VA, has a very different reaction. "It's cringeworthy. I find myself holding my breath, especially when you look at how young these dancers are," she says. Athletic trainer and acupuncturist Megan Richardson, who's on staff at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries in NYC, agrees: "Overstretching—forcing yourself into an extreme position for a long time, or doing the wrong stretch for what you're trying to achieve—has always been a cultural problem in the dance world." So what is the right way to stretch? We're so glad you asked.

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Health & Body
There's no better way to get to know the dance professor you've been fangirling over all semester than going to their office hours. (Via Getty Images)

"Part of my job is to have at least two hours a week where I sit there, waiting for someone to come talk to me," says Heidi Henderson, professor of dance at Connecticut College. But dance students in particular often don't think to go to office hours. Why not? Unless you have a specific problem to address, it can feel weird to just sit and talk with professors. Far from it: "Coming to office hours is a way of going above and beyond," Henderson says. "I notice which students come to talk about dance or life, and I'll note that in recommendation letters." As you'll soon see, office hours encompass much more than just a nice chat.

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Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Erin Baiano

We're thrilled for our Cover Model Search winner, Darriel Johnakin—but we also love our two runners-up, Diego Pasillas and Emma Sutherland! We talked to Emma about how life has changed since her NYC visit for the contest.

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Cover Model Search
Nothing calls for an all-out, all-around-the-house celebration dance like getting into your dream school—early. (Getty Images)

It's that time of year for high school seniors: early decision/early action season. Your guidance counselor at school might have already recommended these options to you—but just as the college admissions process is more complicated for dancers overall, you'll also need to think carefully before deciding whether or not you want to jump ahead of the regular admissions timeline. To help you decide, we enlisted the help of Dr. Elizabeth Stone (executive director of Campanile college admissions counseling) and Sara Pourghasemi (director of college counseling at the Professional Performing Arts School in NYC).

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How To
Photo by Wilson Greaton, courtesy Easton Payne

Twenty-two-year-old dancer and choreographer Easton Payne is an artist's artist: His movement is profoundly empathic, wholly original, and endlessly creative. That unique voice was honed through training at the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education and Dance Town in Doral, FL. Payne now choreographs for studios across the country, though you're probably most familiar with his work for Molly Long's Project 21. Read on to find out how he keeps making movement that's like nothing we've seen before. —Helen Rolfe

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Choreography
Lee Gumbs Photography, courtesy Gracyn French

What do you get when you cross a 1920s jazz baby with an absurdly flexible alien life-form? Ten-year-old Gracyn French, who's taken the comp world by storm over the past two years. After she became KAR Miss Petite Dance America 2017, the 2018 Nationals season saw Gracyn break the Top 20 at Radix and the Top 10 at her very first Dance Awards (where she clinched the title of Mini Female Best Dancer this year). She's also danced in six Old Navy commercials, appeared on "Dancing with the Stars," and speaks Spanish thanks to her attendance at a dual-immersion school. A frequent muse for choreographers Easton Payne and Molly Long, Gracyn dreams of following in Long's footsteps one day: After a career as a "DWTS" pro, she wants to open her own studio with younger sisters Emmerson and Harlow.

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Rising Stars
Getty Images

We grilled a dance professor and a rising sophomore for their best tips on how to make the most of freshman year—starting on day 1.

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Higher Ed
Dancers performing at Leap! (DanceBug, courtesy Leap!)

We asked judges Lisa White (of Starpower) and Chris Pederson (of Leap!) to answer reader-submitted questions. Survey says that you might be more than a little surprised by what they had to say.

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Competition
Afra Hines (left, in halter) with the original Broadway cast of "In the Heights" (Joan Marcus, courtesy Barlow-Hartman Public Relations)

Ever wondered how a professional performer's resumé differs from that of, well, a normal working person? Maybe you're curious about what "AEA" or "SAG-AFTRA" stand for, and why you as a dancer should worry about these acronyms. Or perhaps you're just dying to know how it really feels to understudy a leading role on Broadway. Whatever your burning Broadway questions, the latest episode of Teen Vogue's "Resume Tours" has you covered.

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Musical Theater
Will you accept this dance? We sure would. (Photo courtesy ABC)

If you're a proud citizen of Bachelor Nation, you know that as nail-biting as the rose ceremonies can get, the real fun happens in the post-credits scenes. The clips ABC shows at the tail end of each Monday-night episode never actually have much to do with the reality show's main plot line of competitive romancing. Instead, they capture contestants and/or the lead in amusing, endearing, or just plain bizarre moments. And there's perhaps no better example of this prized tradition than the dance-filled post-credits scene from last week's episode, which has gone on to meme-ified glory.

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Just for Fun
Darrion Sellman competing at Youth America Grand Prix (Siggul/Visual Arts Masters, courtesy YAGP)

At age 15, Darrion Sellman already possesses the traits that make his idols—The Royal Ballet's Steven McRae and American Ballet Theatre's David Hallberg—such world-class dancers. Darrion has McRae's easy grace and controlled turns, plus Hallberg's noble movement quality and super-archy feet, and he's taken those gifts and run with them. The talented dancer has earned merit scholarships to summer intensives at Canada's National Ballet School and San Francisco Ballet School, and won YAGP's Youth Grand Prix Award three times in a row. And in 2017, Darrion was recognized by The Royal Ballet School's International Scholars Programme as an exceptionally talented ballet student from outside the UK.

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Rising Stars

When Men in Black: International hit theaters this weekend, audiences expected, and got, a fantastically fun reboot of the '90s sci-fi movie franchise. What they may not have expected was a literally out-of-this-world dose of dance from none other than OG "World of Dance" champions Les Twins—aka Larry and Laurent Bourgeois.

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Hip Hop

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