Pretty much every dancer has looked in the mirror and thought, “If only this one thing about my body were different…” But the most successful dancers are those who can take a not-quite-ideal body part and turn it into a secret weapon. We asked six professionals to talk about the features that might not be perfect, but that have become an important part of what makes them them.
Kacie Boblitt (Photo by Matthew Murphy, courtesy Keigwin + Company)
“I love my long torso.”
I grew up in the ballet world, and I always thought it was a burden to have a long torso and shorter legs—long legs are the ideal. But I had a turning point in college, when I started using my torso during improvisation sessions. You can tell a lot about how a dancer is feeling by the way she engages her torso. It has such a capacity for expressing emotion. Now, as a contemporary dancer, I think of my long torso as a gift. It’s become my most articulate body part. —Kacie Boblitt, Keigwin + Company
Maria Ambrose (Photo by Matthew Murphy, courtesy Elisa Monte Dance)
“I love my slouchy shoulders.”
My upper back is super-flexible, but not in that pretty way that lends itself to bridges and back bends. Instead, mine easily folds forward, which makes me look slouchy. I used to get a lot of corrections about it, so I always thought of it as a negative. But when I joined Elisa Monte Dance, I was encouraged to use it. I found I could make shapes with my body that other dancers couldn’t, and I started to embrace the mobility I’d always been told was a problem. My shoulders have become my most expressive body part—and one of the most exciting aspects of my dancing. —Maria Ambrose, Elisa Monte Dance
Alex Wong (Photo by Brian Jamie, courtesy Wong)
“I lovemy muscular butt.”
I always hated my butt growing up. When I’d stand at the ballet barre, it would stick out, and I wanted a straighter line. As I got older, though, I started to appreciate that it actually makes me look stronger and more masculine. And those muscles come in handy. Without my powerful glutes, I wouldn’t be able to jump as high, and my arabesque would be significantly lower. My only problem now is finding pants that fit! —Alex Wong, commercial dancer
Kim Gingras (Photo by Erin Baiano)
“I love my red hair.”
I used to hate my hair color. When I was younger, I got teased a lot—kids called me “Carrot Head”—and several casting directors have actually asked me to dye it. But while I’ll wear the occasional wig, lately my unique look has been working in my favor. I’ve even been called on for parts specifically because I’m a redhead. I’ve been so thankful to
work with artists like Beyoncé who embrace my individuality. An added bonus: My parents love that they can always find me onstage! —Kim Gingras, commercial dancer
“I lovemy crooked spine.”
I found out I had scoliosis in fifth grade, and I thought it would be the end of my dance dreams. I had to wear a soft brace 24 hours a day—even in ballet class, which I hated—and I struggled constantly with my uneven hips. Over time, though, that made me a lot more aware of my alignment. And ultimately my curvy spine makes my back extra flexible. When I go on auditions now, I know I can nab the roles that call for a dancer who’s extremely bendy. —Bri Kraft, commercial dancer
“I love my giraffe legs.”
In high school, my friends used to call me “Little Kate,” because I was only five feet tall until my senior year. Then, my growth spurt hit. Suddenly, I was 5' 8"—significantly taller than the average ballet dancer—and my new legs were super-long. That made for a lot of awkwardness; it was especially hard to rediscover my balance.
But while it’s still difficult to find partners who can handle my extra length, long limbs come with so many advantages. I love my line in arabesque, and it’s fun to show off my legs in a tutu. —Katharine Precourt, first soloist, Houston Ballet
Bri Kraft (Photo by Vince Trupsin, courtesy Kraft)
Katharine Precourt (Photo by Amitava Sarkar, courtesy Houston Ballet)
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
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.