Dancers Trending

25 to Watch

Dance Magazine's annual look at who's new and breaking through in 2006.

 

 

Powerhouse

Cricket

Because he jumps higher and quicker than anyone alive, hip hop and underground house dancer James P. Colter is nicknamed “Cricket.” A fearless capoeirista, Cricket bounces across the stage, launching his small, compact body into flight and flipping off double-triple somersaults or aerial turns. When grounded, he will do slow motion handstands then slowly leverage down. Or, he might slide across the floor on his head. He seems to spend more time upside down than right side up. Wonderfully intelligent and gentle, Colter is also an admired teacher, intent on spreading the history of hip hop to others. A New Jersey native, Colter moved to Philadelphia to dance with Rennie Harris’ Puremovement. Back in the day, Cricket also opened for mainstream recording artists like KRS-One, Deee-Lite, and Will Smith. This year he can be seen in Puremovement’s concerts touring across the nation. Recently Cricket founded his own Philadelphia crew and company, Crazy Natives/Soul Motion, dedicated to performance and education. An inspirational dancer and man. —Sally Sommer

 

Counter Revelation

Anouk van Dijk

Anouk van Dijk’s dancers move as if their limbs were shot out of a cannon. Ask the choreographer how she gets this effect, and she’s likely to haul out a notebook filled with diagrams illustrating Countertechnique, the movement system she has developed over the past 20 years. “It uses three-dimensional counter directions within the body to establish a dynamic sense of balance and control,” she says, “unlike the traditional approach in modern dance where most movements are controlled from the pelvis.” This month the Netherlands-based anoukvandijk dc is in residence at the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography in Tallahassee to make a DVD of Countertechnique principles. But the best demonstration is in watching the dancers move. They whip, spin, lunge, and fall flat on their faces. As brutal as it looks, van Dijk assures us that her unique approach actually reduces the incidence of injury. See the company at MASS MoCA in Jan., Tallahassee and Seattle’s Velocity Dance in Feb., and Danspace Project in New York in October. —Karen Hildebrand

Night Light

Caitlin Valentine

When Caitlin Valentine performs, she glows. With her seemingly effortless technique and beautifully proportioned body, Valentine exudes joy onstage. She began training in tap, jazz, ballet, and musical theater in New Jersey, but switched her focus solely to ballet when she moved to Florida at age 11, dancing at Orlando Ballet’s school and joining the company at age 16. “Orlando Ballet is like a family,” she says. “I love being here. Being 19 and in a bigger company I wouldn’t have these opportunities.” She revealed her expressive talents as Guinevere in Samantha Dunster’s Camelot last spring, and credits Dunster, school director Peter Stark, and the late company artistic director Fernando Bujones for her accomplishments. “Performing is what I love. I give it everything and I hope that shows.” Catch her in May at Orlando’s Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre when the company present Bujones’ version of Raymonda: The Medieval Times Ballet. —Kate Mattingly

Flashback to Heroism

Kurt Douglas

Kurt Douglas performs the heroic Limón repertoire with vibrancy, attack, and inner joy. Now in his fifth year with the Limón Dance Company, he attributes his success in such pieces as Psalm and A Choreographic Offering to the powerful, dramatic content of Limón’s work. “It’s about being artistically vulnerable,” Douglas says. “I love to re-create Limón’s raw, masculine emotions.” After studying the Graham technique at New York City’s LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts, Douglas headed to the Boston Conservatory of Music to train with former Limón dancer Jennifer Scanlon. After graduating with flying colors, he was offered a contract by the artistic director of the Limón Company, Carla Maxwell. The following year he received the Princess Grace Award for outstanding performer, and by 2003, he was dancing lead roles. This year catch him in the monumental Limón revival Missa Brevis in March in Los Angeles, or in May at the Virginia Arts Festival. —Robert Tracy

Always Searching

Aesha Ash

When Aesha Ash was in the corps of New York City Ballet, she had a piquant quality and invigorating energy that made some observers wonder when she would be named soloist. Another person who noticed was Albert Evans, the NYCB principal who cast her as the lead in his edgy, design-conscious Haiku in 2002. “His piece reawakened something inside of me,” Ash said recently. Whatever that something was, she went in search for more of it in Europe and danced with Béjart’s Ballet Lausanne for two years. Now she’s back, and Alonzo King’s got her. Last fall on a break from rehearsals for his San Francisco-based LINES Ballet, she said, “Alonzo believes in searching out the artist within you. He makes me do a lot of self-exploration. It’s not only physical work but also a ton of mental work.” With Ash’s terrific dancing and King’s global-inspired choreography, this could be a match made in heaven. —Wendy Perron

Lush Hybrid

Tania Isaac

With an alluring stage presence and a prodigious stash of movement ideas, Tania Isaac is spreading her special magic on Philadelphia stages and beyond. A native of St. Lucia, West Indies, Isaac balances hot movements and cool attitudes to create a delicious concoction of Caribbean dance forms (calypso, reggae, soca, zouk), modern-postmodern idioms, visual images, and the spoken word—so good we can almost taste it. Isaac rocked Philly in 2004 with home is where i am, an evening-length, multimedia piece on immigration. Fusing choreography with personal documentary and social commentary, her stage picture is intelligent, voluptuous, witty, and political, all in the same breath. The women in Isaac’s multicultural ensemble perform sensually and sensuously without becoming pornographic objects. A veteran of Urban Bush Women and Rennie Harris Puremovement, Isaac and her eponymous company will be in residence at the Bates Dance Festival in July performing Standpipe, her new work. —Brenda Dixon Gottschild

Mercury Rising

Ma Cong

A quicksilver light fills the stage when Ma Cong dances. Grounded in a visceral love of moving, he exudes joy in the lift-off and exhilaration as he flashes through the air. Formerly with the National Ballet of China, Cong is expanding his artistry as both principal dancer and emerging choreographer with Tulsa Ballet. His passion for moving gave rise to his first full work last year. It wove influences ranging from folk and classical forms to Kylián and Duato into a richly varied vocabulary. Cong recently premiered a second work and appeared as guest dancer with the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (the Florence Opera House) and the Teatro Massimo in Palermo. As Tulsa Ballet’s sole male principal dancer, Cong performs in February and again in April at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. —Cynthia Perry

Short Stories, Tango Style

Navarrete x Kajiyama

When Mexican-born José Navarrete and Japanese-American Debby Kajiyama started working together in 2001, they explored the intersection of their individual cultures. But they really hit common ground when they discovered a mutual passion—tango. The two petite dancers have become formidable tangueros who are now exploring the theatrical potential of this social dance in the Bay Area. Just as Astor Piazzola, whose music they often use, pushed tango’s resonance into other realms, Navarrete and Kajiyama dig into the tension between constraint and freedom. They stretch the duo form and dip into the cauldron of tango’s underbelly. What they have come up with is a series of pungent little essays—some of them light, some of them dark, all of them crisply designed and excellently performed. Navarrete x Kajiyama Dance Theater will appear May 17–June 4 at the 2006 San Francisco International Arts Festival, which will focus on Latino culture. —Rita Felciano

Dancer Turning Choreographer

Edwaard Liang

When Peter Boal asked New York City Ballet principal Wendy Whelan who she’d like to choreograph a duet for them to dance in Boal’s chamber company, Whelan chose Edwaard Liang, the Taiwan-born City Ballet soloist. Liang’s poetic pas de deux, Distant Cries, was so successful that it was picked up by City Ballet for their spring gala. Elegant, long-limbed, and precise, Liang has a keen feeling for contemporary work as both dancer and choreographer. He was terrific in Fosse, whipping off strings of pirouettes that wowed the Broadway audience. His multimedia group dance, This Mortal Coil, made for the launch of the Cedar Lake Ensemble last fall (see “New York Notebook,” October), was fast-moving and dramatic with the added dimension of an anguished solo figure. A recent back injury has kept Liang off the stage but hasn’t slowed down his creative pace. This month he premieres a ballet for Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, set to music by Philip Glass. —Amanda Smith

Fifth Time’s a Charm

Ballet Pacifica

What do Eugene Loring, John Clifford, David Wilcox, and the Joffrey Ballet have in common? They all tried and failed to sustain a ballet company in Los Angeles. Will Ethan Stiefel’s Ballet Pacifica be any different? “I’m involving great people at the right time,” says Stiefel (left), who is known in ballet circles as a savvy businessman. The principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre assumed artistic directorship of the Orange County company last November and immediately surrounded himself with a first-rate crew: Amanda McKerrow as ballet mistress (right), John Gardner as artistic associate (center), Lorin Johnson as director of the school, and Tom Gulick as executive director. After almost two years of fundraising and planning, the 25-member troupe will have its premiere in October. Stiefel plans to program works by Tharp, Lubovitch, Balanchine, Ashton, and Robbins as well as Finnish choreographer Nils Christe and Dutchman Didy Veldman. “I feel ready,” says Stiefel. Let’s hope he is. Los Angeles is still the only major city the U.S. without a ballet company, and no one wants it to remain that way. —Kate Lydon

Cirque de Ballet

Josie Walsh

Fusing aerial acrobatics and gymnastics with edgy pointe work best described as “extreme ballet,” Los Angeles-based artistic director/choreographer Josie Walsh creates mini-Vegas-like extravaganzas with her six-year-old Myo Dance Company. A former Joffrey Ballet and Zurich Ballet dancer, Walsh has an additional weapon in her creative arsenal: Husband Paul Rivera fronts an industrial rock band, Kyo, grinding out guitar licks perched on a pair of stilts. This spring in Hollywood, her 20-member troupe performs The Garden of Reason, a “non-linear journey through the mind.” Walsh, who also teaches and is choreographing Tinker Bell for Disney, says, “We’re dance-based but use circus arts to enhance choreographic opportunities—and to defy gravity.” —Victoria Looseleaf

Moon Goddess

Carla Körbes

Brazilian-born Carla Körbes thrilled New York City Ballet audiences when she leaped into the spotlight soon after joining the company’s corps de ballet in 2000. Luminously beautiful, she was playful and musical as Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and articulate and dramatic in Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3. She looked like she could do no wrong. But a series of injuries and illnesses kept Körbes offstage for large chunks of time, and it was only last season when—promoted to soloist—she began to shine anew. Then she announced she was moving—to Pacific Northwest Ballet, along with her mentor Peter Boal, who had been responsible for bringing her to the School of American Ballet. It’s Boal and Seattle’s gain. She has already brought her stylistic elegance and full-bodied sensuality into the stark geometry of Forsythe’s Artifact II. Look out for her in PNB’s new staging of Balanchine’s Jewels in June. —Roslyn Sulcas

Crazy Legs

Lisa Benson

At the Jazz Dance World Congress in Chicago last August, Odyssey Dance Theatre’s Lisa Benson revealed an unlimited supply of high-tech energy. In company director Derryl Yeager’s modern jazz duet Motif, Benson rocked the house with her meticulous pointe work, warm presence, and insanely supple body. The young audience screamed with delight each time her penché stretched beyond the beyond. Leaving Salt Lake City at 16 for opportunities in California, she returned with a string of awards to study as a ballet major in the dance program at the University of Utah. But when ODT, based in Salt Lake City, offered the chance to explore everything from ballet to hip hop, plus a European tour and four annual home seasons, Benson jumped. Excited to work with new associate artistic director Bonnie Story, whose extensive film and video experience is sure to bring a new edge, Benson remarked, “How can you not love the challenges at ODT?” —Kathy Adams

Lights, Camera, Dance!

Dance Camera West

In Los Angeles, a city notorious for being unfriendly to homegrown dance, Dance Camera West Film Festival is all about being inclusive: documentaries, Hollywood classics, site-specific performance combined with video, and experimental non-narrative films—DCW shows it all each June. Screenings take place at venues across the sprawling megalopolis at museums, an outdoor plaza, a hillside park, and at landmark movie palaces. Different crowds turn up each night, and it’s not dance fans only, says co-director Lynette Kessler. The festival has grown from 2002’s two nights of movies to last year’s 45 films at six sites, attracting 3,000 people. For the first time, DCW showed films in the fall, and they will show winning entries from the American Choreography Awards next summer. Co-director Kelly Hargraves plans to offer workshops on how choreographers can transform performance for the camera. —Laura Bleiberg

Eloquent Eroticism

Hee Seo

Casual. Sexy. Lithe. When Hee Seo glided through Morning After at American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company gala this spring, she brought a sleek sensuality to Brian Reeder’s playful look at post-coital mores. Seo, 19, now an ABT apprentice, seems to have better credentials for a dewy Aurora than a femme fatale. She started ballet at 11 in her native Seoul, studied at Washington, D.C.’s Kirov Academy, and in 2003 won both the Prix de Lausanne and the top prize at Youth America Grand Prix, which gained her a place in ABT’s Studio Company. “She has refinement and sensuality,” says artistic associate Clinton Luckett. “And she makes extraordinarily beautiful classical shapes.” While Seo feels her technique lags—“I can’t do five pirouettes”—her interest lies more in developing artistic depth. “When you walk upstage, you need to be as expressive with your back as you are with your face,” she says. “I’m a dancer trying to put a face on my back.” —Hanna Rubin

Accidental Juliet

Mariko Kida

When Mariko Kida joined Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, she never imagined her first assignment would be to portray one of literature’s most famous heroines. But there she was, a shimmering picture of young love in Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Romeo and Juliet, passionately moving through the work’s classical steps and contemporary choreography with equal finesse. And she was only a member of the corps. “I should have been nervous,” Kida says quietly. Originally chosen as an understudy for the part, she was practicing off in a corner when artistic director Gradimir Pankov saw her and decided she should perform Juliet. “She is a jewel,” says Pankov. “Such a small body but she moves large. So much harmony there.” Kida, 22, studied at the San Francisco Ballet School on a Prix de Lausanne scholarship and danced with Alberta Ballet for two years before joining Les Grands in 2004. Now a demi-soloist, versatile Kida looks forward to tackling her company’s new cutting-edge repertoire. —Kena Herod

Romantic Era Ballerina

Leticia Oliveira

With her deep-set dark eyes and flair for emotional depth, Houston Ballet’s first soloist Leticia Oliveira recalls ballerinas of the past. With a rare authenticity and vintage charm, she transported audiences back to 1940s Russia in the “Serenade” solo of Serge Lifar’s Suite en Blanc. She embodied Giselle’s frail character and her ghostly incarnation as a Wili. At the age of 18, Oliveira left her homeland of Brazil, where she had danced with Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro, to pursue more performing opportunities. Before landing in Houston in 2001, she danced with the Fernando Bujones Dance Company and the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. Promoted to first soloist in 2004, she’s been on the rise ever since. “I love story ballets,” claimed Oliveira as she prepared to dance Tatiana in Cranko’s Onegin, her new favorite role. This February she will have her first chance to dance in Stanton Welch’s new Swan Lake, and later on in the season, Don Quixote. —Nancy Wozny

Brain Child

Jonah Bokaer

Knocking the socks off Merce Cunningham audiences around the globe would be an achievement for any young dancer. But Jonah Bokaer has also begun a body of solo choreography that is wowing his peers. After growing up in Ithaca, New York, Bokaer attended the North Carolina School of the Arts and in 2000 became the youngest dancer to ever accepted into the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Bokaer finds spontaneity in the company’s repertoire, bringing the familiar shapes alive with arc and undertow. In his own work, humanity and fluidity are matched by intellectual inquiry. In his recent solo, Nudedescendance, Duchamp’s historic painting, “Nude Descending a Staircase,” collides with computer technology. Bokaer’s last task in the piece is to drink a bottle of water while bumping down a ladder, bum to rung, nude. Look for a new work in the Family Matters series at Dance Theater Workshop in January. —Chris Dohse

Solar Energy

Isaac Spencer

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Isaac Spencer has an electric presence onstage. With an intense internal focus, he moves as if some perfectly coiled spring had just been released in him. In works like Nacho Duato’s Gnawa and William Forsythe’s Enemy in the Figure, his energy radiates into space, unforced yet thrilling, beautifully controlled yet a little wild. Small, lean and boyish, Spencer, 23, has the looks of a bohemian Tom Sawyer. He grew up in Worcester, MA, began dance classes at 9, attended Walnut Hill (a private performing arts high school), and graduated from Juilliard in 2004. He immediately joined Hubbard Street 2 and a month later was invited into the main company. Spencer is self-critical about his ballet technique, but says, “One of the things I’ve learned is to embrace what you do have.” Catch him during Hubbard Street’s national tour throughout February, or during the company’s spring season, March 22–April 9 at Chicago’s Harris Theater for Music and Dance. —Hedy Weiss

Back on Track

Misa Kuranaga

Whether she’s whipping through a Petipa variation or gliding softly in a premiere by Lucinda Childs, Misa Kuranaga radiates strength, musicality, and a meticulous sense of épaulement. Shy in speech but brave in her actions—and onstage—the Japanese ballerina had actually contemplated quitting dance at age 17. But in 2001 she had good luck at the most prestigious European ballet competition. “The Prix de Lausanne saved my life,” she says with a laugh. “It gave me a scholarship to San Francisco Ballet School, and the same year I won a gold medal at the 9th Moscow Competition.” Boston Ballet artistic director Mikko Nissinen noticed her immediately at the Monaco Dance Forum, where she had taken class, and offered her a contract in BB’s corps without a formal audition. He cast her as Amour in Don Quixote and then promoted her to second soloist. This March she’ll dance in an energetic premiere by Helen Pickett, and in May, she performs a lead in Balanchine’s classic Serenade, which she says is “a dream come true.” —Theodore Bale

The Non-Choreographer

Miguel Gutierrez

Miguel Gutierrez is not a choreographer. This Brooklyn-based “dance artist,” as he prefers to be called, often collaborates with media artists and musicians so that movement is only one part of his artistic endeavors. In dAMNATION rOAD (2004), his company, called Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People, presented a searing, visceral portrait of terror incarnate. Frenetic floor work, slicing arms, and furtive running passages were staged amidst a film of a burning tractor-trailer, blinding white lights, and a bleating soundscape. It was a caustic, apocalyptic performance experience. This year finds Gutierrez, who has danced with Joe Goode and John Jasperse, in a “back to basics” mood. After the New York premiere last month he brings new pieces to DiverseWorks in Houston, TX (March 3–4) including the solo Retrospective Exhibitionist, which he says examines his own vulnerability as a performer. Choreographer or dance artist—whatever his title, Gutierrez’s messages are loud and clear. —Vanessa Manko

The Next Russian Legend

Yevgenia Obraztsova

During the Kirov Ballet’s summer season in London, 21-year-old Yevgenia Obraztsova’s evocative Juliet had British balletomanes comparing her to that other legendary Russian, Galina Ulanova. From her very first moment onstage, the audience was ensnared by her spontaneity; her beautiful, expressive face and long slim limbs; her fleet footwork, thistledown-soft technique, and flowing lyricism; and her spirited and dramatic elucidation of Shakespeare’s doomed heroine. Later, in Forsythe’s Approximate Sonata her delicate demeanor gave way to contemporary off-balances and a tough physicality. Obraztsova joined the Kirov in 2002 and won the gold medal at the last Moscow International Ballet Competition. She recently appeared as an actress-dancer in the French film, Les Poupées Russes, receiving excellent reviews. Under the tutelage of former Kirov ballerina Ninel Kurgapkina, Obraztsova should continue to polish and refine her performances, and we can expect to hear a lot more about her in the years ahead. —Margaret Willis

Unstoppable

Amar Ramasar

Unleashing a torrent of frenzied movement in Peter Martins’ The Infernal Machine, snapping fingers and hips in Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free, or dancing with classical clarity in Agon, New York City Ballet corps member Amar Ramasar has consistently stood out from the crowd since joining the company in 2001. Born in the Bronx to a Trinidadian father and a Puerto Rican mother, Ramasar started ballet at 14 because it “looked challenging.” He has a beautiful line, an effortless jump, and an instinctive musicality. But you don’t watch Ramasar for his technique, which he uses simply as an underpinning for his eloquent, expressive dancing and his engaging, ebulliant personality. He knows how to project vulnerability and compassion onstage—and deadpan humor too. These gifts should bring a great deal to New York City Ballet-goers in 2006. —Roslyn Sulcas

They Come as a Package

This Woman’s Work

Heads up presenters! Co-founders Princess Mhoon-Cooper and Bridget Moore with Hope Boykin, Camille Brown, Shani Nwando, Ikerioha Collins, and Ursula Payne, have joined together under the banner “This Woman’s Work” (TWW) and have produced two sold-out events so far. Admittedly, they had loads of help from elders like Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, but it took plenty of their own hard work. From management to public relations, designing to fundraising, they have built their own collective to showcase their individual choreography. Although they come from the companies of Ronald K. Brown, Rennie Harris, and Alvin Ailey, and are informed by icons Pearl Primus and Katherine Dunham, the end product is all theirs. Amidst a myriad of young dancemakers in New York, these emerging black women are intent on getting their work out—on their own terms. TWW will perform in Washington, D.C., at Howard University Feb. 3–4. —Charmaine Patricia Warren

Splashing Colors

Kazu KumagAi

Tapper Kazu Kumagai dances like the American Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollock painted. Intense and focused, Kumagai pays no attention to his upper body or funky clothes. Straddling his legs out, then bringing them in, he riffs backwards as happily as riffing forward. He will crisscross his own tracks in tight patterns, building dense rhythmic accumulations, playing with the music. Then he stops, listens, and splatters down delicate taps like colorful paint dribbles. Kumagai started tapping at 15 in Japan, then came to the United States to work with excellent teachers Barbara Duffy and Ted Levy. Since 1997 he has earned respect as an international leader in tap and a gifted recipient of the American tap legacy. Dancers like Kumagai are living proof that tap dancing is one of our greatest exports of the 21st century. Watch an elegant 11-second Parco ad of Kumagai dancing on Plexiglass at www.plusetplus.com. —Sally Sommer

The Conversation
Dance on Broadway
Michael Jackson performing in 1992. Via Wikimedia

If you love Michael Jackson, you'll love this news: A pre-Broadway run of the MJ jukebox musical will hit Chicago this fall.

Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough boasts more than 25 MJ hits and has set its premiere for October 29. As previously reported, Christopher Wheeldon will direct and choreograph the new musical, while Lynn Nottage pens the book.

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News
Dance Media CEO Frederic M. Seegal. Photo by Christopher Duggan.

Gallim will honor Frederic M. Seegal and Limor Tomer at its February 12 Force of Nature gala. Both honorees have a close relationship with the Brooklyn-based contemporary dance troupe, so it's fitting that they'll be recognized at Gallim's first-ever gala.

Seegal, Dance Media's CEO, previously served as Gallim's board chairman. He fondly recalls his first encounter with the company: After Gallim brought down the house at its 2010 Fall For Dance performance, Seegal was immediately convinced that he had to support the company and connected with artistic director Andrea Miller that night.

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Dance Training
Joshua Dean. Photo by Craig Geller, courtesy Dean

These days, you don't have to be in the circus to learn how to fly. Aerial dance has grown in popularity in recent years, blending modern dance and circus traditions and enlisting the help of trapeze, silks, hammocks, lyra and cube for shows that push both viewers and performers past their comfort zones.

More dancers are learning aerial than ever before. Besides adding new skills to your resumé, becoming an aerialist opens up a new realm of possibilities.

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News
Valdes and Alonso. Photo by Nancy Reyes, courtesy BNC

Alicia Alonso's famed ballet company in Cuba has a new leader: the beloved hometown prima ballerina Viengsay Valdés.

Ballet Nacional of Cuba just named Valdés deputy artistic director, which means she will immediately assume the daily responsibilities of running the company. Alonso, 98, will retain the title of general director, but in practice, Valdés will be the one making all the artistic decisions.

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Advice for Dancers
Photo by Ahmad Odeh/Unsplash

I'm terrified of performing choreography that changes directions. I messed up last year when the stage lights caused me to become disoriented. What can I do to prevent this from happening again? I can perform the combination just fine in the studio with the mirror.

—Scared, San Francisco, CA

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Health & Body
It's not about what you have, but how you use. Photo by Brooke Cagle/Unsplash

From the angles of your feet to the size of your head, it can sometimes seem like there is no part of a dancer's body that is not under scrutiny. It's easy to get obsessed when you are constantly in front of a mirror, trying to fit a mold.

Yet the traditional ideals seem to be exploding every day. "The days of carbon-copy dancers are over," says BalletX dancer Caili Quan. "Only when you're confident in your own body can you start truly working with what you have."

While the striving may never end, there can be unexpected benefits to what you may think of as your "imperfections."

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Dance Training
Alexander Iziliaev, courtesy MCB

It's the second week of Miami City Ballet School's Choreographic Intensive, and the students stand in a light-drenched studio watching as choreographer Durante Verzola sets a pas de trois. "Don't be afraid to look at the ceiling—look that high," Verzola shows one student as she holds an arabesque. "That gives so much more dimension to your dancing." Other students try the same movement from the sidelines.

When Arantxa Ochoa took over as MCB School's director of faculty and curriculum two years ago, she decided to add a second part to the summer intensive: five weeks focused on technique would be followed by a new two-week choreography session. The technique intensive is not a requirement, but students audition for both at the same time and many attend the two back-to-back.

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Dance Training
Instructor Judine Somerville leads a musical theater class. Photo by Rachel Papo

On a summer afternoon at The Ailey School's studios, a group of students go through a sequence of Horton exercises, radiating concentration and strength as they tilt to one side, arms outstretched and leg parallel to the ground. Later, in a studio down the hall, a theater dance class rehearses a lively medley of Broadway show tunes. With giant smiles and bouncy energy, students run through steps to "The Nicest Kids in Town" from Hairspray.

"You gotta really scream!" teacher Judine Somerville calls out as they mime their excitement. "This is live theater!" They segue into the audition number from A Chorus Line, "I Hope I Get It," their expressions becoming purposeful and slightly nervous. "Center stage is wherever I am," Somerville tells them when the music stops, making them repeat the words back to her. "Take that wherever you go."

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News
Brooklyn Studios for Dance founder Pepper Fajans illustrates the cold temperatures inside the studio. Screenshot via Vimeo.

Dance artists, as a rule, are a resilient bunch. But working in a studio in New York City without heat or electricity in the middle of winter? That's not just crazy; it's unhealthy, and too much to ask of anyone.

Unfortunately, Brooklyn Studios for Dance hasn't had heat since mid-November, making it impossible for classes or performances to take place in the community-oriented center.

So what's a studio to do? Throw a massive dance party, of course.

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Health & Body
Anika Huizinga via Unsplash

As winter sets in, your muscles may feel tighter than they did in warmer weather. You're not imagining it: Cold weather can cause muscles to lose heat and contract, resulting in a more limited range of motion and muscle soreness or stiffness.

But dancers need their muscles to be supple and fresh, no matter the weather outside. Here's how to maintain your mobility during the colder months so your dancing isn't affected:

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News
The International Association of Blacks in Dance's annual audition for ballet dancers of color. Photo by E. Mesiyah McGinnis, Courtesy IABD

A newly launched initiative hopes to change the face of ballet, both onstage and behind the scenes. Called "The Equity Project: Increasing the Presence of Blacks in Ballet," the three-year initiative, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is a partnership between Dance Theatre of Harlem, the International Association of Blacks in Dance and Dance/USA.

"We've seen huge amounts of change in the years since 1969, when Dance Theatre of Harlem was founded," says Virginia Johnson, artistic director of DTH. "But change is happening much too slowly, and it will continue to be too slow until we come to a little bit more of an awareness of what the underlying issues are and what needs to be done to address them."

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The Creative Process
Nashiville Ballet artistic director Paul Vasterling went through executive coaching to be come a better leader. Photo by Anthony Matula, Courtesy Nashville Ballet

From the outside, it seemed like the worst of New York City Ballet's problems were behind them last winter, when ballet master in chief Peter Martins retired amid accusations of abuse and sexual harassment, and an internal investigation did not substantiate those claims.

But further troubles were revealed in August when a scandal broke that led to dancer Chase Finlay's abrupt resignation and the firing of fellow principals Amar Ramasar and Zachary Catazaro. All three were accused of "inappropriate communications" and violating "norms of conduct."

The artistic director sets the tone for a dance company and leads by example. But regardless of whether Martins, and George Balanchine before him, established a healthy organization, the issues at NYCB bespeak an industry-wide problem, says Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, founding artistic director of Urban Bush Women. "From New York City Ballet to emerging artists, we've just done what's been handed down," she observes. "That has not necessarily led to great practices."

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Popular

If you've ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at Dance Magazine, now's your chance to find out. Dance Magazine is seeking an editorial intern who's equally passionate about dance and journalism.

Through March 1, we are accepting applications for a summer intern to assist our staff onsite in New York City from June to August. The internship includes an hourly stipend and requires a minimum two-day-a-week commitment. (We do not provide assistance securing housing.)

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25 to Watch
Photo credits, clockwise from bottom left: Peter Mueller, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet; Jayme Thornton; Jochen Viehoff, Courtesy Stephanie Troyak; Karolina Kuras, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada; Natasha Razina, Courtesy State Academic Mariinsky Theatre; Kim Kenney, Courtesy Atlanta Ballet; Jim Lafferty; Arian Molina Soca, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet; Altin Kaftira, Courtesy Dutch National Ballet; Scott Shaw, Courtesy Shamar Wayne Watt

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.

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Dancers Trending
Photos via Polunin's Instagram

If you follow Sergei Polunin on Instagram, you've probably noticed that lately something has been...off.

Though Polunin has long had a reputation for behaving inappropriately, in the last month his posts have been somewhat unhinged. In one, Polunin, who is Ukrainian, shows off his new tattoo of Vladimir Putin:

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Health & Body
Dance classes will be a part of a movement towards "social prescribing." Photo by Leon Liu via Unsplash

It's become a colloquialism—or, we admit, a cliche—to say that dance can heal.

But with a new initiative launched by British Health Secretary Matt Hancock, doctors in the U.K. will soon be able to prescribe dance classes—along with art, music, sports, gardening and more—for patients suffering from conditions as various as dementia, lung problems and mental health issues.

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News
Credits with photos below.

For the past few months, the dance world has been holding its collective breath, waiting for New York City Ballet to announce who will take over the helm as artistic director.

Though former ballet master in chief Peter Martins retired over a year ago after accusations of sexual harassment and abuse (an internal investigation did not corroborate the accusations), the search for a new leader didn't begin until last May.

Nine months later, the new director's name could be released any day now. And we have some theories about who it might be:

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Irina Dvorovenko with Tony Yazbeck in The Beast in the Jungle. Photo by Carol Rosegg, Courtesy Sam Rudy Media Relations.

Some people take this profession as just a chapter of their life. They feel like dance is a job—a fun job, but a job. Other people live their life through dance. I never considered being a ballerina a profession. It's a lifestyle.

If I don't have a performance, I feel like a tiger trapped in a cage. I have so many emotions, I feel I need to give them to somebody, to exhaust myself—I need to cry or laugh, or else it's suffocating. Other people might scream or throw bottles into the wall. We dancers scream onstage through our movement. For me, it's like sweeping off the dust in my soul.

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Dance & Science
Amar Odeh/Unsplash

Back in 2011, Yale University's dean of science was thinking about refreshing the program's offerings for non-majors when he happened upon a Pilobolus performance. A light bulb went off: Dance is full of physics.

That realization led to what has become an eight-year collaboration between particle physicist Sarah Demers and former New York City Ballet dancer Emily Coates, both professors at Yale who were brought together to co-teach a course called The Physics of Dance. Their partnership has involved everything from directing a short film to presenting a TedX Talk and performing a piece that Coates created, commissioned by Danspace Project. This month, they're publishing a book about what they've discovered by dialoging across two seemingly disparate disciplines.

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Career Advice
Umi Akiyoshi Photography, Courtesy Sidra Bell Dance New York

Sebastian Abarbanell remembers being asked as an undergrad at Trinity Laban in London to perform wearing only a dance belt. "I said no," he says, "because I felt uncomfortable." Now a performer with Sidra Bell Dance New York, he's performed partially nude several times, without reservation. The difference? "It comes with more experience and maturing as a dancer," he says. "When you see a dancer living in their skin, you don't need to put anything else on them. When I said no in college, I wasn't in my skin yet."

Getting in your skin—and getting comfortable wearing only your skin onstage—requires a particular alchemy of vulnerability, agency, preparation and practice.

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Dancers Trending
Courtesy Birmingham Royal Ballet

Birmingham Royal Ballet announced today that international star Carlos Acosta will be taking over as director in January of 2020. Current BRB director David Bintley will be stepping down this summer, at the end of the company's 2019 season, after a 24-year tenure. "It is a tremendous honor and privilege to have been appointed to lead Birmingham Royal Ballet," Acosta said in a statement.

Since retiring from The Royal Ballet in 2015, Acosta has focused much of his attention on his native Cuba, where he's proven his directorial abilities at the helm of Acosta Danza, the contemporary company that he founded in 2016. In 2017 Acosta also opened his first Dance Academy through his foundation, which provides free training to students. We don't yet know how Acosta will balance his time between his projects in Cuba and his new role at BRB.

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