Dancers & Companies

The Hottest Dance Topics of 2016

What were the most popular dance topics of the year? We measured your favorite posts by the number of times you clicked on them, and though the results don't necessarily capture the newsiest events of 2016 (see: huge turnover at major companies basically everywhere), they point to two broad themes that readers cared about: how dance is portrayed in the media and pop culture, and how dancers can be smarter about understanding and caring for their bodies.

1. "Why Today's Gymnastics Routines Insult Dance." Here: Simone Biles in the Rio Olympics.

The U.S. women's gymnastics team dominated this summer's Olympics. But Dance Magazine editor in chief Jennifer Stahl wondered why the athletes use dance moves as breaks from their super-human floor routine tricks. The post generated a lot of conversation, and takes the title of most-read piece of the year.

2. "First Position: Where Are They Now?" Here, Aran Bell, photographed by NYC Dance Project.

Five years ago, First Position was the dance documentary everyone was talking about. We looked at where the young dancers profiled in the film are now, and you were eager to catch up with them.

3. "Competitions: The Pressure to Go Acrobatic." Here, Emma Spillane, Boston YAGP, photo © VAM Productions

After serving on a YAGP jury, editor at large Wendy Perron wrote about the contemporary category's shift towards tricks—and how the desire to win makes some contestants sacrifice their artistry. Her piece inspired us to delve deeper into this question in our October issue.

4. "Higher Extensions, Lower Risk." PC Nathan Sayers.

High extensions will never go out of style. That's probably why our piece on safely developing greater flexibility comes in as the fourth most popular read of the year.

5. "When Experts Cringe." PC Nathan Sayers.

Dancers today are more educated about their bodies than ever. But, some misunderstandings die hard. Our piece on the common dancer habits that make medical experts cringe made us all want to find out if we're guilty of them.

6. "The Cult of Thin." PC Thinkstock.

It's commonly agreed that extreme thinness is a problem in the ballet world. But why does it persist? In the July issue, we talked to dancers and directors about the "cult of thin" and what can be done to move forward.

7. "Allison DeBona On What's Really Wrong with the Kendall Jenner Video." Here, DeBona's Vogue Italia shoot. PC Emma Summerton for Vogue Italia.

Another year, another dance faux pas in the media. A video depicting Kendall Jenner as a "ballerina" got real dancers talking—so we had Ballet West first soloist Allison DeBona lay out the real problem for us.

8. "Finally, the Real Reason Your Hip Keeps Clicking." Here, Gisele Bethea, photo by Nathan Sayers for Dance Spirit.

Who knew that a piece on hip clicking would land eighth on our list? Turns out, that nagging click was bugging a lot of you.

9. "From Risk to Recovery." PC Nathan Sayers.

Unfortunately, injuries are still a hot trend in the dance world. We tackled the five that waylay dancers the most and asked experts how we can both avoid and recover from them.

10. "25 to Watch." Here, Sterling Baca, PC Nathan Sayers.

The reveal of our yearly "25 to Watch" picks is always an exciting moment. Our 2016 list comes in as the tenth most-popular article of the year—and our 2017 picks have just been announced. Snag a copy of the January issue to get a first look at what's sure to be one of the hottest topics of the new year.

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Jacob Jonas directed, filmed and choreographed last year's Best Overall winner. Image via Facebook

What if there was a way to get your dancing in front of the likes of Desmond Richardson, d. Sabela grimes and Vincent Paterson all at once? Just in case you needed another excuse to break out your best moves this week, the Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival is back, and Richardson, grimes and Paterson are among this year's judges.

Dancers and non-dancers alike are invited to submit short dance films to the international online festival, with one caveat: The dancing has to take place in a public space.

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By Rick Tjia, Dance Talent Scout, Cirque du Soleil Casting

The dancers file into an audition room. They are given a number and asked to wait for registration to finish before the audition starts. At the end of the room, behind a table and a computer (and probably a number of mobile devices), there I sit, doing audio tests and updating the audition schedule as the room fills up with candidates. The dancers, more nervous than they need to be, see me, typing, perhaps teasing my colleagues, almost certainly with a coffee cup at my side.

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AXIS Dance Company. Photo by David DeSilva, Courtesy AXIS.

Now in its 30th year, AXIS Dance Company, the pioneering physically integrated troupe in Oakland, California, is celebrating with a new artistic director, a new logo and expanded ambitions.

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Delores Brown, photo via

When we're talking about the history of black dancers in ballet, three names typically pop up: Raven Wilkinson at Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, Janet Collins at New York's Metropolitan Opera and Arthur Mitchell at New York City Ballet.

But in the 1930s through 50s, there was a largely overlooked hot spot for black ballet dancers: Philadelphia. What was going on in that city that made it such an incubator? To answer that question, we caught up with Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet founder (and frequent Dance Magazine contributor) Theresa Ruth Howard, who yesterday released her latest project, a video series called And Still They Rose: The Legacy of Black Philadelphians in Ballet.

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Nathan Sayers

Janie Taylor didn't know if she'd ever return to the stage. But that's exactly where the former New York City Ballet principal has found herself: Nearly three years after retiring, she is performing again, as a member of L.A. Dance Project.

Taylor officially debuted with the company at its December 2016 gala in Los Angeles, then performed in Boston, via live stream from Marfa, Texas, and at New York's Joyce Theater before heading off on tour dates in France, Singapore, Dubai and beyond.

"She is wildly interesting to watch—and not conventional," says LADP artistic director Benjamin Millepied. "There are films of Suzanne Farrell dancing, where you feel like the music is coming out of her body," he says. "I think Janie has that same kind of quality."

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Dancers & Companies

Last night was not your average Thursday at Bay Ridge Ballet in Brooklyn, New York. Studio owner and teacher Patty Foster Grado—a former Parsons Dance Company dancer—was teaching a boys class, when with only five minutes left, she heard commotion in the waiting area and someone yelled, "There's a lady giving birth in the bathroom!"

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Dancers & Companies
PC Elena Fetisova

Where can you watch Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, Coppélia and Le Corsaire all in one place? Hint: It also has extra-buttery popcorn.

Yep, it's your local movie theater. Starting this weekend, theaters across the country will be showing Bolshoi Ballet productions of classical and contemporary story ballets.

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Health & Body
Danielle Peazer, photo by David Salafia

When commercial dancer Danielle Peazer took on an ambassadorial role with Reebok in early 2016, she didn't realize the gig would also lead to a career shift. But while traveling with and teaching workshops for the brand, the idea for DDM (Danielle's Dance Method) Collective started to take shape.

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