Why I Dance: Victoria Jaiani
Jaiani left Tbilisi, Georgia, at age 13 to pursue a dance career. Herbert Migdoll, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet
Dancer with Joffrey Ballet.
At a young age, without any connections to the ballet world, I told my mom that I was going to be a ballerina. Growing up, I would put on classical music and improvise around the house. Sometimes I would make my family watch me dance. I grew up in Tbilisi, Georgia, and after a lot of begging, when I was 10, my mom took me to an audition for the State Ballet School. I was accepted and never looked back.
As a student, I was drawn to the daily routine and the strong, almost military-like mentality with which one has to approach ballet. It didn’t always come easy, but I made it a point to remain focused. I worked to gain the control, strength and confidence necessary to allow my body to move fluidly through space.
In the beginning, I would strive for unattainable perfection and criticize myself when I did not meet the standards I created. For example, I always admired hyperextended legs, but my legs just are not hyperextended, so at some point, I had to let go of that pursuit. I had to stop worrying about failure and recognize the beauty in my imperfections.
I left Georgia at age 13 and joined the Joffrey Ballet at 16. I’m now a leading dancer performing innovative and groundbreaking works from some of the world’s top choreographers. I still aim for excellence, but am even more determined to enjoy the artistic process. I bask in the excitement of working with masters like Christopher Wheeldon, Yuri Possokhov, Wayne McGregor and John Neumeier. The thrill of contributing to their vision never fades.
The driving force behind my passion is the joy I feel when I create a story onstage and bring the emotions to life through brilliant movement. When I’m onstage, there are moments when I feel as if the world around me has stopped and the ballet I’m performing is the only thing that matters. When I dance, I become part of the music and the music becomes me.
Dance is so much more than my profession, but rather a part of my life that has shaped my identity. Dance has taught me to live life to the fullest. It has always been my dream to dance, and for now I get to live my dream.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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!"
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.
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.