These days, it's not uncommon to see men dancing on pointe. Sure, the Trocks have been doing it forever, but now even men in traditional companies are seeing the benefits of training in pointe shoes.
And yet, we've never seen anything like this video of Houston Ballet's Hayden Stark, Derek Dunn and Daniel Durrett performing the "Shades" variations from La Bayadere on pointe. It's not a parody video or a spoof. These boys' pointework is the real deal, and we're all for it.
At Miami City Ballet, Lourdes Lopez has shown how to turn around a financially struggling company without losing that for which it's beloved. While building upon founder Edward Villella's Balanchine legacy, she's also embraced Miami's unique cultural identity, commissioning works like Justin Peck's Wynwood-inspired Heatscape and Miami-born artist Michele Oka Doner's underwater reimagining of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Lopez's vision has excited local audiences—increasing both donations and ticket sales—and the company's dancers.
If household-name status can be measured by Super Bowl cameos, Lil Buck has definitively earned the title. Along with high-profile ads for companies like Apple and Lexus, the Memphis jooker has also worked with concert dancers of all genres at the Vail Dance Festival, pushing the limits of where street forms can go.
When Masha posts on Instagram, people talk about it. And not just dance people—the San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theatre principal has more than 166,000 followers, drawn to her quirky content and statement-making style. She uses her broad reach to bring dance to a wider audience, both in her role as a globetrotting classical powerhouse and in collaborations with trendy artists like Blood Orange.
Go to almost any contemporary dance performance in the U.S. and you'll see the influence of Ohad Naharin.
Since taking the helm of Batsheva Dance Company in 1990, Naharin has transformed the group into a global force in dance. His contagious movement practice, Gaga, has spread far and wide, changing the way many choreographers think about creating work—and how dancers relate to their own bodies.
Since creating his first work for New York City Ballet in 2012, 29-year-old Justin Peck has catapulted into a dancemaking career that spans ballet and contemporary companies across the world. His spellbinding formations, unusual partnering and impossibly fast petit allégro—along with his hipster-cool collaborations with trendsetters like alt-rocker Sufjan Stevens and fashion label Opening Ceremony—give ballet a bolt of fresh, Millennial energy. Next year, he'll add Broadway to his resumé, taking a turn at reinventing Agnes de Mille's classic scenes in Carousel.
When it feels like everything's already been done, Monica Bill Barnes still pushes boundaries. Her hit collaboration with "This American Life" host Ira Glass mixed dance with radio-style storytelling, and her Happy Hour series embraced the idea of an office-party-meets-karaoke-meets-dance experience. And although plenty of choreographers are setting site-specific work in museums these days, Barnes takes it a few steps further—and leads her audience through an aerobic workout in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Growing up in ballet classes, Visceral Dance Chicago's Paige Fraser realized that she would have to work hard to improve her feet. "I didn't have the facility that a lot of dancers are born with," says Fraser, one of our 2017 25 to Watch. "I had to learn how to make it work for me."
Some of her teachers' old-school advice—like putting your feet under the couch to stretch them—didn't work for Fraser, and aren't exactly recommended by experts today. But as she got older and began attending summer intensives, she received more sound guidance on how to improve her feet, and started developing a routine that still serves her today.