What's next for the dance world? Our annual list of the dancers, choreographers and companies that are on the verge of skyrocketing has a pretty excellent track record of answering that question.
Here they are: the 25 up-and-coming artists we believe represent the future of our field.
By now, you're probably as obsessed with the artists on our 2018 "25 to Watch" list as we are. But how do we decide who makes it? One answer is: carefully. Another: It's a long, long process.
Each year, Dance Magazine recognizes early-career dancers, choreographers and companies who are on the cusp of breaking out in our "25 to Watch" feature. Click through the list below to meet the rising stars who made our list, and find out why we're excited to see more from them in the coming year.
Densely dimensional, unpredictable, strangely graceful and wild, Alice Klock's dances are like elegant ribbons caught in hopelessly tangled knots. In 2018, she'll choreograph more works than she did the year before, extending a trajectory that's continued throughout her still-brief career.
It's the contrasts that set Jeroboam Bozeman apart. In a New York minute, his movements may jump from sharp and distinct to gracefully fluid. Bozeman defies labels; you're not sure if you're watching a ballet dancer, a modern dancer or (one of his favorite styles) a West African dancer.
Equally impressive is his offstage persistence: He auditioned for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater five times before he was offered a place in Ailey II. A year later, in 2013, he finally joined the main company.
He describes dancing as "liberating," a quality evident when he's onstage—he's so present that you wish you were up there with him. "The more honest I am in my dancing," he says, "the more relatable it will be to people."
There's a delicious bit of mischief in everything Kolton Krouse does. He'll toss off some impossibly difficult sequence—a quintuple pirouette into a prolonged développé into an aerial, say—and end with an impish smile that's the stage equivalent of saying, "How good was that? And how much fun did I have doing it?"
How many 25-year-old company founders can say they have a resumé of collaborations with everyone from The Kennedy Center to Pilobolus to The Getty Museum? Not many, save Jacob Jonas, artistic director of Jacob Jonas The Company and founder of the #CamerasandDancers Instameet series.
His Los Angeles–based contemporary dance company boasts sleek, virtuosic dancers and fresh, inventive choreography—but it's his ingenious brand-building know-how that has garnered him 80,000 Instagram followers and a reputation across the national dance community.
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Kate Ladenheim's dances share many attributes with their maker, namely their vibrancy, urgency, awkwardness and frequent brilliance. Her representations of hackers, botnets and DDoS attacks in her dance HackPolitick (which references the internet collective Anonymous) as performed by her Brooklyn company, The People Movers, won her the honor of being quite possibly the first contemporary choreographer to be written about in Forbes. She recently produced and collaboratively choreographed Transmission, a play that premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe that deployed cutting-edge augmented-reality mobile-phone apps, podcasts and live performances.
It's no wonder Yeman Brown was nominated for a 2017 Outstanding Performer Bessie for his performance in Reggie Wilson's Citizen. Amidst the marathon of broken-up solos, Brown flies through the lightning-fast choreography. His movement is both gestural and athletic—not to mention deeply poetic—and is driven by a particular force which exudes a matter-of-fact command of the stage.
In a crowded company class at Tulsa Ballet, Maine Kawashima stands out, and not just because of her tiny size. (She's 4'11".) The 22-year-old corps de ballet member is fiercely focused, repeating combinations over and over again with tireless determination. Once class is over, she keeps going, whipping out fouettés.
"She is a technical wizard," says artistic director Marcello Angelini. "But she's also a sensitive and versatile dancer."
Marcelino Sambé has been an ebullient presence at The Royal Ballet since he joined the company in 2012. A prizewinner at Moscow International Ballet Competition and Youth America Grand Prix, the Portuguese dancer earned a scholarship to the Royal Ballet School's Upper School and shone from the start in virtuosic variations, with technique that was unfailingly bright and airy.
His short stature could have limited him. But last season, Sambé (who is also an enthusiastic choreographer) broke through to the next level, as was shown by the expressive, harrowing role Crystal Pite created on him in Flight Pattern—that of a migrant gripped by despair.
Houston Ballet demi-soloist Mackenzie Richter is fond of saying "Adagio is not my thing," but after her performance int he third "Kingdom of the Shades" solo in Stanton Welch's La Bayadère, she needs to reconsider that statement. Control, suspension and floating grace to carry off the most difficult adagio work are most certainly her thing now, along with her allégro, jumping and turning abilities.
Long and leggy, the powerhouse ballerina got plucked out of HBII early to apprentice, and was then promoted to the corps mid-season in 2016 and to demi-soloist in September 2017. "I am working on being a little less academic," says Richter. "Being perfect doesn't mean that you are interesting to watch."
Creating dance as a medium for eliminating taboos has been cathartic for radical, riveting Montreal-based dancer and choreographer Daina Ashbee. Her highly physical, personal work dealing with topics such as female sexuality, anorexia, trauma, loss, the menstrual cycle and Indigenous women has garnered accolades: At the prestigious 2016 Prix de la Danse Montreéal, she received both Le Prix Découverte de la Danse (emerging artist award) and the Prix du CALQ for Best Choreographic Work (for When the ice melts, will we drink the water?).
In 2017, Sam Pinkleton's choreography appeared on three Broadway stages simultaneously: in Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, Amélie and the play Significant Other. But until recently, he didn't even feel comfortable calling himself a choreographer.
Pinkleton, 30, studied directing at New York University, where his relentless enthusiasm and "willingness to jump off of high things" led people to ask him to make movement for their projects. Since then, he's been creating "absurd, totally ridiculous, un-self-conscious movement," working with people with a broad spectrum of abilities and backgrounds, both young and old.
MK Abadoo is an unapologetic activist. The dances she creates speak her truth to power. Her choreography offers a socially conscious take on torn-from-the-headlines issues of racial, social and gender equity.
Drawn to community-based work, Abadoo fuses postmodernist aesthetics with fleet-footed and full-bodied West African forms—she spent a Fulbright year in Ghana—and the nonchalant swagger of funk. Her 2015 work Octavia's Brood: Riding the Ox Home is inspired by science-fiction writer Octavia Butler's work and vignettes from the Underground Railroad, toggling between an Afro-futurist view of the U.S. and the searing history of Harriet Tubman. When Abadoo and her dancers stop short, caught by swaths of brown fabric tugging them ceaselessly back, they're trapped in an extension of their skin as Akua Allrich croons "My skin is black." Abadoo's message: The struggle against racism remains real, visceral and unvarnished, and she's ready to confront the issue head-on.
Watching Connie Shiau dance feels uncannily similar to watching a cat attack its prey. She'll stealthily draw out a movement, building suspension, then charge into the next phrase so fast that you never even see how she got from point A to B.
But this Abraham.In.Motion dancer offers much more than just playful musicality. Although she's only 28, Shiau delivers the kind of complex performances that artists typically only develop through years of digging deep inside their souls. With her intense inner focus, you feel her making choices right in the moment onstage, and you can't help but be mesmerized, wondering what she might decide to do, where she might decide to go next.
Not many students get the opportunity to perform a variation onstage with the Mariinsky Ballet. But in April 2016, when May Nagahisa was just 15 and training at Monaco's Princess Grace Academy, the Japanese prodigy was invited to perform the Manu dance in La Bayadère with the venerable Russian company—an unprecedented honor for a non-Vaganova student.
There are many ways in which to be a great dancer, but there's no denying that precocious virtuosity is often the most eye-catching. For Cesar Corrales, his fail-safe talent for effortlessly explosive jumps, plus pirouettes that could seemingly spin for infinity (but which stop at exactly the moment of his command), have marked out the 21-year-old as one of the most exciting young dancers performing in the UK.
Named for the road-sign warning, slowdanger, unlike its moniker's admonition, has been anything but cautious in taking Pittsburgh by storm. Founded in 2014 by Anna Thompson and Taylor Knight, who met while studying dance at Point Park University, the multidisciplinary duo have become known for their atmospheric, multimedia experimental dance works. Their cerebral approach and ethereal movement quality have garnered the two 20-somethings critical praise. In 2015, they received a Pittsburgh BRAZZY Award, chosen by Pittsburgh dance writers.
Annie Arnoult and her Open Dance Project invited audiences inside Woody Guthrie's world in 'Bout a Stranger, evoking the Dust Bowl era through movement, song, theater and set design for a visceral experience of the great American songwriter's life. Arnoult's opus unfolded through vignettes occurring in makeshift kitchens, corridors and tiny stages that enveloped the viewer.
Her keen attention to detail, the timeliness of the subject (considering today's political climate of social action) and the superb performances by her dancers astonished on every level, making 'Bout a Stranger one of the most fully realized pieces to come out of Houston in decades.
Taking cues from old-Hollywood legends like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, tap duo Kelsey McCowan and Caley Carr have become known for their smooth, effortless and highly stylized movement reminiscent of a bygone era. However, their work is anything but dated, thanks to crystal-clear sounds and incredibly intricate, rhythmic footwork. "We always think, Why try to do what everyone else is doing, when what we do makes us happy?" says McCowan.