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We Totally Nailed These Past "25 to Watch" Picks
It's January, and that means one thing here at Dance Magazine: It's "25 to Watch" time. Back in January 2001, we started the tradition of highlighting 25 up-and-coming dancers, choreographers, companies and trends who, in our humble opinion, were on the brink of making major waves. This was my first year being in the room where it happens, and poring over the hundreds (yes, hundreds) of worthy nominees inspired me to look back at our previous "25 to Watch" lists—and I have to say, we've got a pretty great track record. So to celebrate the ringing in of a new generation of 25 to Watchers, here are 25 dancers and choreographers who proved us right.
Daniel Ulbricht's 2008 DM cover.
2001 In the inaugural edition, we called out recently-promoted American Ballet Theatre soloist Marcelo Gomes, now a seasoned principal and 2015 Dance Magazine Award recipient; high-flying NYCB stars Ashley Bouder and Daniel Ulbricht (then still an SAB student!); and a pre-Royal Ballet/Chroma Wayne McGregor.
2002 Speaking of seasoned ABT principals: Gillian Murphy got a nod from Gus Solomons jr, who described her as "fearless, flawless, and versatile." On the other end of the spectrum was kathak/contemporary master Akram Khan, then gaining momentum to become the internationally lauded star he is today.
Misty Copeland was a 25 to Watch in 2003. PC Jayme Thornton.
2003 There were a lot of phenomenal artists on this year's list, but you only need to hear one name to understand their collective caliber: Misty Copeland. The barrier-breaking ballerina who now needs no introduction was then a new member of ABT's corps. Georgina Parkinson prophetically told us, "She's going to flourish here."
2004 The year we put Stella Abrera on the cover, a full decade before she received her long-deserved promotion to principal dancer at ABT. Also on the list: tap wizard Jason Samuels Smith, and the first American to become a principal at the Bolshoi Ballet, David Hallberg.
2005 We pointed out the wondrously leggy Teresa Reichlen as a rising star at New York City Ballet, and that view was validated pretty quickly: Peter Martins promoted her to soloist that very month.
Carla Korbes graced the cover of our February 2010 issue.
2006 Also known as: The year of the future cover stars. We had beloved former–Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Carla Körbes (cover: February 2010); ABT's luminous Hee Seo (cover: May 2013); NYCB's dreamy leading man Amar Ramasar (cover: February 2016); and fierce and fabulous Boston Ballet principal Misa Kuranaga (cover: November 2016).
2007 Natalia Osipova? Enough said.
2008 Ivan Vasiliev? Likewise.
2009 Just saying: We knew Kyle Abraham was a genius three years before the MacArthur Foundation made it official.
Alex Wong at the cover shoot for DM's June 2015 issue. PC Nathan Sayers.
Alex Wong wowed us during his fast-tracked career at Miami City Ballet, where he had recently been promoted to principal soloist when he landed on our list. Little did we know he would take the daring leap from classical to commercial that summer, stealing the hearts of "So You Think You Can Dance" fans before going on to have a phenomenal freelance career.
2011 He was still a principal dancer at Pacific Northwest Ballet when he founded Whim W'Him, but we knew that Olivier Wevers was onto something. (If you want proof, we recently followed him through a tech day for an episode of "Behind the Curtain.") Across the pond, Melissa Hamilton was making a serious impression on London audiences with The Royal Ballet, particularly as something of a muse to Wayne McGregor.
2012 When Taylor Stanley was promoted to principal dancer before a New York City Ballet performance in May, the only surprising thing about the decision was the timing. He was a year away from a soloist promotion when we featured him, but he'd already turned heads dancing the lead in Balanchine's Square Dance.
2013 Creative collaborators/offstage couple Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener were standouts as individual dancers in the Merce Cunningham Company, but once they started choreographing with and on each other in 2010 they reached a new level of cool. And that wasn't the last we've seen of the duo: Between what seems like non-stop work on their various creative projects they found time to appear as the cover stars of our "Renegades" issue in 2015.
2014 Another former Cunningham dancer, Melissa Toogood, already had an impressive resume of freelance work to her name in 2014: Pam Tanowitz, Rosie Herrera, Stephen Petronio, Kyle Abraham, Rashaun Mitchell...Yes, this is what really "making it" as a freelance contemporary dancer in NYC looks like.
2015 We loved Stuart Singer so much that when, the following year, we dedicated our March issue to freelance stars of NYC, we had to put him on the cover. The former Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company member and Bessie winner simply shows up (and does amazing things) everywhere.
2016 It was impossible to pick just one. (And besides, we've already hit 25.)
One of the biggest myths about ballet dancers is that they don't eat. While we all know that, yes, there are those who do struggle with body image issues and eating disorders, most healthy dancers love food—and eat plenty of it to fuel their busy schedules.
Luckily for us, they're not afraid to show it:
Looking for your next audition shoe? Shot at and in collaboration with Broadway Dance Center, Só Dança has launched a new collection of shoes working with some pretty famous faces of the musical theater world! Offered in two different styles and either 2.5" or 3" heels, top industry professionals are loving how versatile and supportive these shoes are! Pro tip: The heel is centered under the body so you can feel confident and stable!
When I wrote about my struggle with depression, and eventual departure from dance because of it, I expected criticism. I was prepared to be challenged. But much to my relief, and horror, dancers from all over the world responded with support and stories of solidarity. The most critical response I saw was this one:
"Dance isn't for everyone."
This may as well be a mantra in the dance world. We have become entrenched in the Darwinian notion that the emotionally weak will be weeded out. There is no room for them anyway.
Growing up in a family-owned dance studio in Missouri had its perks for tap dancer Anthony Russo. But it also earned him constant taunting, especially in high school.
"There was a junior in my sophomore year health class who was absolutely relentless," he says. "I'd get tripped on my way to the front of the classroom and he'd say, 'Watch out, twinkle toes.' If I raised my hand and answered a question incorrectly, I'd hear a patronizing 'Nice one, Bojangles.' "
What does a superstar like Carlos Acosta do after bidding farewell to his career in classical ballet? In Acosta's case, he returns to his native country, Cuba, to funnel his fame, connections and prodigious energies back into the dance scene that formed him. Because of its top-notch, state-supported training programs and popular embrace of the art of dance, Cuba is brimming with talented dancers. What it has been short on, until recently, are opportunities outside of the mainstream companies, as well as access to a more international repertoire. That is changing now, and, with the creation of Acosta Danza, launched in 2016, Acosta is determined to open the doors even wider to new ideas and audiences.
There's so much more to the dance world than making and performing dances. Arts administrators do everything from raising money to managing companies to building new audiences. With the growing number of arts administration programs in colleges, dancers have an opportunity to position themselves for a multifaceted career on- or offstage—and to bring their unique perspective as artists to administrative work.
While Solange was busy helping big sis Beyoncé give Coachella its best performances of all time, an equally compelling project was quietly circulating on Instagram:
New York City Ballet continues its first year without Peter Martins at the helm as our spring season opens tonight.
When he retired at the start of the new year, we plunged headfirst into unknown, murky waters. Who would the new director be? When would we know? Would we dancers get some say in the decision? Who would oversee the Balanchine ballets? Who would be in charge of casting? Would a new director bring along huge upheaval? Could some of us be out of a job?
In the world of ballet, Arcadian Broad is a one-stop shop: He'll come up with a story, compose its music, choreograph the movement and dance it himself. But then Broad has always been a master of versatility. As a teenager he juggled school, dance and—after the departure of his father—financial responsibility. It was Broad's income from dancing that kept his family afloat. Fast-forward six years and things are far more stable. Broad now lives on his own in an apartment, but you can usually find him in the studio.
Bales of hay, black umbrellas, bicycles—this Midsummer Night's Dream would be unrecognizable to the Bard. Alexander Ekman's full-length, inspired by Scandinavian solstice traditions and set to music by Mikael Karlsson, is a madcap celebration of the longest day of the year, when the veil between our world and that of the supernatural is said to be at its thinnest. The Joffrey Ballet's performances mark the seductively surreal work's North American premiere. April 25–May 6. joffrey.org.