The Penn State University Lionettes (Brian Harmon, courtesy Penn State University)

Performing for any audience is jitter-inducing enough. But how about an audience of 100,000 rowdy game-day spectators? Dance teamers face unique pressures in their highly unpredictable performance environments, and inevitably, things go awry. We asked dancers and coaches from four champion teams to share some of their most embarrassing stories—and how they recovered like the pros they are.

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Dance Team
Walnut Hill School for the Arts students (photo by Liza Voll, courtesy Walnut Hill School for the Arts)

For some high school students, the thrill of dancing away from home doesn't end when the summer is over. In fact, those who attend residential performing arts high schools live in dorms, work with esteemed guest artists and faculty, and spend half of every school day in a dance studio—from September to May. Offering a true conservatory experience, these schools can transform your technique and provide unique performing and choreographic opportunities.

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Dancer to Dancer
(From left) Kaelynn Harris, Stevie Doré, and Alyssa Stamp nailing a heels combo by Brian Friedman and Yanis Marshall (via YouTube with permission from Brian Friedman)

Shirlene Quigley will never forget the audition that changed her life: a call for Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love" video. It was one of the street dancer's first shots at a professional gig. But she had another reason to be nervous: Heels were required. "It was my first time dancing in heels," says Quigley, who didn't even own a pair at the time. "I wore knee-high boots, borrowed straight from my mom's closet!"

During the audition, Quigley found herself challenged at every turn (literally). "I kept saying to myself, 'Don't trip. Pull up,' " she remembers. At the same time, the shoes unleashed something new in her dancing. "It was so much fun," she says. "It felt so feminine and so fearless." In the end, Quigley booked the job, which led to a spot on the promo tour for Beyoncé's Crazy in Love album. Since then, she's basically lived in heels, performing for artists including Rihanna and Missy Elliott, and now she leads regular heels classes at Broadway Dance Center and Peridance in NYC and Millennium Dance Complex in L.A.

Dancing in heels has long been an industry staple, yet it's a skill that can be quite tricky for performers who've spent years training in sneakers or bare feet. We spoke to Quigley—and three other famously heel-clad dancers—about how to find your (heeled) footing.

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Dancer to Dancer
Post:Ballet's Christian Squires and Raychel Weiner in When in Doubt (photo by Natalia Perez, courtesy Post Ballet)

If you're a serious ballet student, you've probably been dreaming about joining a big classical company. But when it comes to career planning, thinking outside of the ballet box doesn't have to mean hanging up your pointe shoes. In fact, there are many contemporary ballet troupes where bunheads can perform innovative works that make full use of the technique they've worked so hard for. We rounded up the 10 you need to know about.

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Dancer to Dancer
Carmelized-onion salad by dancer Patricia Zhou (courtesy Zhou)

Tons of dancers bring their creativity from the studio to the kitchen—because we've all gotta eat! But a few take their cooking chops even farther, often preparing meals for friends and fellow dancers. We asked four dancers/amateur chefs for their favorite recipes.

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