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
Screenshot via YouTube

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
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)

If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.

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Musical Theater
Photo by Erin Baiano

Click here to vote for Emma.

There's a story Kate Walker, director of dance at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, loves to tell about Emma Sutherland, who just graduated from the program. "We were watching the students run a really long, challenging piece," Walker recalls. "Several kids couldn't quite make it through. But Emma did make it all the way to the end, which is when she walked up to us faculty and very politely asked, 'May I please go throw up?' "

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Cover Model Search
The company of "Moulin Rouge!" during last year's Boston run (Matthew Murphy, courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown)

Well, this is just...SPECTACULAR SPECTACULAR. As if the upcoming Broadway run of Moulin Rouge! The Musical wasn't already "so exciting," the show has announced that one fan (plus their dance bestie) will get to go on an all-expenses-paid trip not only to Paris (the setting of Moulin Rouge!) but also to NYC (to catch opening night of the musicalization). The only catch is that by entering the contest, you automatically sign up for email updates from the show—which, let's be honest, you probably want anyway if you've already read this far. Safe to say that this is (as Harold Zidler would say) "magnificent, opulent, tremendous, stupendous, gargantuan, bedazzlement!"

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Musical Theater
Brittany Cavaco in "Until Midnight" (Claire Morris, courtesy Cavaco)

Hey, want to take a quick trip to Paris for the weekend? No, we're serious. There's this brief but beautiful ballet flick called Until Midnight, it stars Brittany Cavaco (a freelance ballerina currently guesting with English National Ballet) and former Paris Opéra Ballet principal Sébastien Thill, and it's everything your lackluster weekend needs.

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Ballet
It's a Ziegler Zamboni! (screenshot via YouTube)

Everyone loves the multitalented Maddie and Mackenzie Ziegler. Everyone loves Olympic figure skater (and pop-culture icon) Adam Rippon. Everyone loves when dancers ice-skate, and vice versa. So what could possibly be more lovable than the latest episode of the YouTube show "Break the Ice with Adam Rippon," in which Rippon teaches the sisters Ziegler to skate? (Nothing. NOTHING is more lovable than this freakishly cute video.)

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Just for Fun
Sage Humphries rehearsing "White" (Brooke Trisolini, courtesy Boston Ballet)

It's been an eventful few months for Sage Humphries, to say the least. Last November, the Boston Ballet company member made her (very well-received) choreographic debut with a piece called YOU, part of the company's BB@home: ChoreograpHER program. Just one week later, Humphries sustained an injury that kept her offstage for a couple of months. But she didn't have much downtime: Artistic director Mikko Nissinen soon asked Humphries to make a piece for Boston Ballet's first-ever appearance at Boston Calling Music Festival. Now that Humphries is back in the studio, Dance Spirit caught up with her to talk about making ballet rock, working with her composer brother, and what it's like to see her name next to William Forsythe's.

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Choreography
Francesca Axam-Hocker (Shoccara S. Marcus Photography, courtesy Axam-Hocker)

These days, Francesca "Frankie" Axam-Hocker and Ahren Victory are doing great: Axam-Hocker, who graduated from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee in 2014 with a BFA in dance, is now senior manager of visitor services at The Paley Center for Media; Victory, who graduated from the University of Arizona in 2017 with a BA in arts, media, and entertainment, is now playing Sillabub in the national tour of CATS. But ask these dancers about the past few years, and it's clear their current successes don't tell the whole story. Yes, even the most talented and motivated dancers struggle with postgrad life—but there are ways to ease your fears, stress, and uncertainty.

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Higher Ed

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