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.
"I don't cook for just one or two people," says James Whiteside, stirring a pot on his stove. "My mom taught me to cook and she had five kids. So when I do cook, I go in!"
Aside from breakfast (usually bacon, egg and cheese on an English muffin), the American Ballet Theatre principal rarely cooks for himself during ABT's seasons. He prefers to "forage" for his lunch and go out or order in for dinner, saving the real cooking for when he has friends or colleagues to feed. "I like to have a lot of people tell me my food is delicious," he quips.
We're not sure what we did to deserve the livestream generosity the dance world is giving us these days, but this weekend, it's getting even better.
PC Joe Toreno
L.A. Dance Project, Benjamin Milliepied's trendsetting contemporary troupe, has been in residence at The Chinati Foundation for the past few days. This weekend, they're showing us what they've come up with—for three days straight.
To create great work, choreographers need the freedom to tackle difficult subjects and push physical limits. But when your instruments are human beings, is there a limit to how far you should go? Five choreographers open up about where they draw the line.
Restaurants have always been a great source of survival gigs for dancers. But today's top chefs aren't just looking for waiters to carry dishes to the table. They're hiring choreographers to give the staff dance-like skills and compose a sort of choreography for the dining room.
Leslie Scott, artistic director of dance theater company BODYART, is one of those choreographers. After working in more typical food industry jobs for 10 years, she's been tapped by top restaurants in both New York City and Los Angeles to lead workshops that finesse servers' non-verbal communication and navigation of tight spaces.
Back in 2002, dancer and choreographer Jonah Bokaer founded an art space in Brooklyn called Chez Bushwick. As Manhattan and Brooklyn were quickly becoming unaffordable, and many studio spaces were closing, Bokaer seized upon "creative placemaking"—the idea that the arts can play an integral role in community-building—before it became a buzzword. "We have been sustaining and maintaining one of the most affordable dance studios in New York State since the very beginning of my career," he says.
Fifteen years later, the challenges for choreographers in expensive urban centers continue unabated, and Bokaer has found his original mission magnified. While Chez Bushwick remains a haven for the next generation, there is also a growing number of young dancemakers who have been inspired to create their own residencies, communities and, ultimately, opportunities.
The New York City premiere of Alexei Ratmansky's sugary sweet story ballet, Whipped Cream, made for one of the most exciting spring galas at American Ballet Theatre yet. While we're usually in awe of the gowns the dancers sport on the red carpet beforehand, this time around, it was all about Whipped Cream's colorful and over-the-top costumes by Mark Ryden—and, okay, a few major dress moments, too. Ahead, check out what went on behind-the-scenes.