Photo by Nathan Sayers

25 to Watch 2018: Erica Lall

Erica Lall credits her tap dancing for the musical sensitivity of her American Ballet Theatre performances. From a wili in Giselle ("I love petit allégro," she says) to a soloist in Marcelo Gomes' contemporary AfterEffect, Lall deftly accents a striking range of choreography. Precise and expressive, she floats on the music, never overstressing the beat. As a Porcelain Princess in Alexei Ratmansky's staging of Aurora's Wedding last spring, she mastered the variation's minute, detailed movements and relentless pointework with a delicate, doll-like charm.


A former competition dancer—Starbound, Showstopper—the 19-year-old fell in love with ballet as a student at Houston Ballet Academy. "Tap was my favorite," she says, "but I loved the challenge of ballet, the refinement of the movement, how nice it felt to finally achieve it." Lall transferred to ABT's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in 2013, joining the main company in 2016. But she still takes tap and contemporary classes at Broadway Dance Center during company breaks "to feel more grounded."

As a dancer of color in the same company as Misty Copeland, Lall knows she can be a model for young dancers. "I was the only dancer of color in my class," she recalls. "I think things are changing; I want to be a great example." Spoken like a ballerina in the making.


Find out who else made Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch" list this year.

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Stark Photo Productions, Courtesy Harlequin

Why Your Barre Can Make or Break Your At-Home Dance Training

Throughout the pandemic, Shelby Williams, of Royal Ballet of Flanders (aka "Biscuit Ballerina"), has been sharing videos that capture the pitfalls of dancers working from home: slipping on linoleum, kicking over lamps and even taking windows apart at the "barre." "Dancers aren't known to be graceful all of the time," says Mandy Blackmon, PT, DPT, OSC, CMTPT, head physical therapist/medical director for Atlanta Ballet. "They tend to fall and trip."

Many dancers have tried to make their home spaces as safe as possible for class and rehearsal by setting up a piece of marley, like Harlequin's Dance Mat, to work on. But there's another element needed for taking thorough ballet classes at home: a portable barre.

"Using a barre is kinda Ballet 101," says 16-year-old Haley Dale, a student in her second year at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She'd bought a portable barre from Harlequin to use at her parents' home in Northern Virginia even before the pandemic hit. "Before I got it, honestly I would stay away from doing barre work at home. Now I'm able to do it all the time."

Blackmon bought her 15-year-old stepdaughter a freestanding Professional Series Ballet Barre from Harlequin early on in quarantine. "I was worried about her injuring herself without one," she admits.

What exactly makes Harlequin's barres an at-home must-have, and hanging on to a chair or countertop so risky? Here are five major differences dancers will notice right away.

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December 2020