Breaking Stereotypes
Ka'et Contemporary Dance Ensemble in the studio. Still from IFAF documentary.

Mash-ups aren't uncommon in the dance world: Performers of varying styles have been known to share the stage, from ballerina Tiler Peck and famed clown Bill Irwin to Michelle Dorrance, who's mixed tappers and break-dancers. Likewise, collaborations between choreographers and artists from seemingly mismatched disciplines have produced magical creations, such as Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream, featuring Mark Ryden's whimsical and even grotesque designs and costumes.

But the Israeli troupe Ka'et Contemporary Dance Ensemble has found success in one of the most unlikely partnerships: Secular contemporary choreographer Ronen Itzhaki creates movement for a group of rabbis.

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Breaking Stereotypes
Christopher Williams' "Il Giardino d'Amore." Costume by Andrew Jordan, Photo by Paula Court

Justin Lynch is surprisingly nonchalant about the struggles of being a full-time lawyer and a professional dancer. "All dancers in New York City are experts at juggling multiple endeavors," he says. "What I'm doing is no different from what any other dancer does—it's just that what I'm juggling is different."

While we agree that freelance dancers are pro multitaskers, we don't really buy Lynch's claim that what he does isn't extraordinary. In fact, we're pretty mind-boggled by the career he's built for himself.

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News
Screenshot via YouTube

Sure, Evgenia Medvedeva may have just broken the world record for the highest score ever given to an Olympic skater for the ladies short program. And it's very possible that she'll be taking home the gold medal next week for the single skating event.

But honestly, that's not why we love this Russian figure skater.

It's because in addition to being one of the best skaters in the world, the 18-year-old is also an incredibly enthusiastic hip-hop/jazz dancer.

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Breaking Stereotypes
Nathan Chen. Photo via icenetwork.com

One of the United States' top hopes for medaling at the Olympics this month has a secret weapon: a serious ballet background.

Figure skating champion Nathan Chen spent six years training at Ballet West as a kid. "The technique there was impeccable," the 18-year-old said in a media teleconference last week. "To have had that at a young age, it definitely helps a lot. I know where to put my arms, how to create the line, how to dance to music."

TV commentators often remark on his artistry, while dance lovers adore his elegant port de bras, épaulement and arabesque line.

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Breaking Stereotypes
Raven Wilkinson in "Les Sylphides" as illustrated by Leda Schubert. Photos Courtesy Wilkinson.

When children's book writer and illustrator Leda Schubert first reached out to Raven Wilkinson about writing a book on her life, Wilkinson had qualms. She was worried that the racism she experienced as an African American dancer touring the South with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in the 1960s might scare the intended audience of 6-9 year olds. With time, Wilkinson came to an understanding. "If we keep hiding everything from our children we'll never get these things solved," she told me in an interview. The result is a picture book, released earlier this month, titled Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson.

Trailblazer opens with a foreword by Misty Copeland, who has has often cited Wilkinson as a mentor. Copeland's words are accompanied by a photo of Wilkinson presenting her with a bouquet onstage after her Swan Lake debut with American Ballet Theatre. "Since learning about Raven, sharing her journey and those of the many black ballerinas who have paved the way has become part of my mission," writes Copeland. And indeed, Copeland's fame and success has pushed Wilkinson's story into the public eye.

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Dancers Trending
Online Dance Company works with dancers from ballet to hip hop to ballroom. Screenshot via YouTube

What if you never needed to buy a ticket to watch your favorite dance company perform? What if every single one of their performances were at your fingertips, for you to enjoy anytime, anywhere?

For Online Dance Company powered by Millennium bcp, that's the whole idea. Founded just a year and a half ago, the Portugal-based group only exists online—no live performances, ever. But that doesn't mean their dancing is subpar: In fact, they once won our Video of the Month Contest.

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Breaking Stereotypes
Charlie Hodges shares his story of fighting insecurity about his height, weight and hair line

Conversations about body image in dance typically revolve around female dancers. For an obvious reason: It's usually women who are driven to dangerous means to reach the ideal "ballet body."

But they're not alone in the struggle. Former Twyla Tharp dancer Charlie Hodges recently told his own story during a TED Talk at California's ArtCenter College of Design.

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Dancers Trending
Lopez in Circus Polka. PC Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy MCB

When Miami City Ballet artistic director Lourdes Lopez was a principal dancer at New York City Ballet, she missed her opportunity to honor Jerome Robbins onstage. "Every time there was a celebration for Jerry, I was either injured or had just retired," says Lopez. "I was never able to publicly thank him onstage for all that he taught us and the beauty he left us."

But when Lopez was planning MCB's Jerome Robbins Celebration for the 100th anniversary of the legend's birth, she saw an opportunity. She asked the Robbins Trust to allow her to perform the Ringmaster in Robbins' Circus Polka, a role the choreographer originated himself.

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