From Copenhagen, Denmark, to San Francisco, CA, a ballet student's day starts the same way: with class. Ballet class is a given at schools around the world, but there is a myriad of differences—from the studios to the technique—between them. We decided to pack up our dance bags, grab our passports, and take a trip around the globe for class at four different schools: The Royal Ballet School in London, England; Royal Danish Ballet School in Copenhagen, Denmark; San Francisco Ballet School in San Francisco, CA; and the Tanya Pearson Academy in St. Leonards, New South Wales, Australia.
Gratitude practice is an exercise that's as straightforward and simple as it sounds—and it can have a major positive impact on your dancing. Here, we break down the basics, benefits, and best ways of practicing gratitude—just in time for Thanksgiving.
Traveling is just par for the course when you're a dancer. But spending hours 35,000 feet in the air on a plane can have serious side effects once you land. Here, we break down the biggest pre- and postflight dos and don'ts to help you feel ready for that first summer intensive class the minute you leave the airport.
Ask any professional dancer about their dressing room, and they'll likely refer to it as a home away from home. Stocked with all the essentials and adorned with good-luck charms and photos, dressing rooms are where so many pre- and postshow memories are made. We had three pros—a ballerina, a Broadway dancer, and a dancer on a cruise ship—walk us through the rituals and personalizations that make these spaces their own.
After a grueling day in the studio, it's important to give your tired muscles some extra TLC. Baths are a great way to aid recovery, but figuring out the most effective temperature can get complicated—should you go piping hot, or ice cold? Here, we break down the benefits of both.
It was fall 2016. Gianna Reisen—then 17 and in her final year at the School of American Ballet, New York City Ballet's official training school—had just been made the offer of a lifetime: the chance to choreograph a work for the company's fall gala. She would be the youngest person ever to do so.
Two weeks later, Reisen went from an all-time high to an all-time low: She found out she wouldn't be getting an apprenticeship with NYCB. "I absolutely deflated," she remembers. "Imagine if, after seven years of working towards something, it simply doesn't happen. It's sort of heartbreaking."
For dancers, stretching is one of those things that fall into the "second-nature" category—at some point each day, you'll likely be found in a split, a straddle, or with your leg up on the barre. But stretching incorrectly can cause some serious problems. Dance Spirit turned to athletic trainer and acupuncturist Megan Richardson, who's on staff at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries, for advice on how to safely execute three common dancer stretches.
Autumn in the Big Apple means one thing: New York City Ballet's Fall Fashion Gala. Since its inception in 2012 by Sarah Jessica Parker, the gala has produced dozens of new ballets, complete with original costumes designed by the fashion industry's biggest names. Ahead of this year's gala—which takes place September 26th and features new works by Lauren Lovette and Edwaard Liang, with costumes designed by Zac Posen and Anna Sui—NYCB joined forces with INTERSECT by Lexus on an exhibition showcasing the many stunning gala costumes from years past. Dance Spirit met up with Marc Happel, NYCB's Director of Costumes, to talk about the retrospective, the biggest lessons he's learned over the years, and the designers he'd love to work with in the future.
When Alison Stroming was a 15-year-old student at American Ballet Theatre's Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis School, she had a chance encounter at the water fountain with none other than Misty Copeland. "I was grabbing a drink, and when I turned around, Misty greeted me with a 'Hey girl!' My mouth just dropped," remembers Stroming. Copeland ended up taking Stroming under her wing, helping the young dancer carve out her place within the cutthroat dance world. "To this day, I turn to her for advice," Stroming says. "She's more than a mentor—she's become a big sister and a friend."
This relationship with Copeland inspired Stroming to launch AS Mentorship, a new program that allows Stroming to build relationships with 15 handpicked dance students over the course of a year. We caught up with Stroming to talk about the importance of a program like this, how she selects her dancers, and how dancers can find mentors of their own.
From the moment we saw Darriel Johnakin flash a million-watt smile while nailing a textbook tilt at her Cover Model Search photo shoot this spring, we knew she'd go far in the dance world. Now, having crossed "Dance Spirit Cover Model Search winner" off her bucket list, Darriel's back to doing what she does best: logging long hours in the studio, polishing her technique, applying her teachers' corrections, and trying to be a little bit better than she was yesterday.
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Each September, as throngs of models and designers descend upon the Big Apple for New York Fashion Week, we at Dance Spirit wait with bated breath for the inevitable fashion/dance collabs to pop up in our Insta feeds. And while the fashion industry has a long, sometimes complicated, sometimes amazing, history with the dance world, it's done nothing but wow us as of late. Case in point? 21-year-old model/dancer extraordinaire Alton Mason's star turn at the Tommy Hilfiger x Zendaya show Sunday night (which took place at the historic Apollo Theater, no less).
If there's one thing every dancer is always working on, it's her pirouette. It's no secret that this skill takes years of honing and practice. But in addition to solid technique, perfect pirouettes require a lot of strength. We turned to Roman Zhurbin, soloist with American Ballet Theatre and owner of Roman Empire Fitness, for a breakdown of the best ways to strengthen the muscles used in a pirouette.
All photos Anna Marchisello and Jacob Patrick (courtesy Stacey Tookey)
Deep in the hills just outside Calgary, Alberta, Camp Kindle sits unassumingly, nestled in a forest clearing. With rustic cabins, a glassy lake, sprawling lawns, and a giant ropes course, the scene looks like the set of an old-school movie about summer camp- which is why it's so surprising to learn that, for one week each August, some of the competition circuit's most gifted dancers arrive there en masse for Stacey Tookey's Camp Protégé.
When it comes to injury-prone body parts, knees reign supreme for dancers. But a little strengthening can go a long way in preventing painful outcomes. We turned to Dirk Hartog, a physical therapist with Westside Dance Physical Therapy in NYC, for three exercises that'll support and stabilize your knees.
Dancers are naturally "in their heads" all the time—but not always in productive ways. Long days of receiving and applying corrections, taking class, and performing can get to even the most composed individuals. What should you do when you feel like your mind is just as busy as your rehearsal schedule? Try meditation. Dance Spirit turned to Adreanna Limbach, a head teacher at NYC-based meditation studio MNDFL, for a breakdown of this highly beneficial practice.