Ashley Lynn Sherman in Lar Lubovitch's Dvořák Serenade. Anne Marie Bloodgood, Courtesy Ballet Austin

"I Dance to Uphold History and Tradition and to Take Part in the Ventures of the Future"

Despite what may be happening in the world or the cacophony of thoughts whirring through my head, I can step into the studio or onto the stage and escape. I'm not escaping from reality, but into a distinct layer of it. Dance is a moving meditation. I hear the music, I take in my environment, I feel the sensations in my body, I connect with my partners and colleagues, and we move through space. We tap into a collective consciousness and flow together. We make mistakes and we stay with it. We make choices and we learn. Sometimes we do things we never believed were possible. We push ourselves and our bodies to the edge. We ache. We keep working—creating, building, growing—and then we let go. Like a sand mandala, all this work culminates in release. I surrender everything I have to a role and then the curtain goes down, and that's it. The end. Of course, I get to bring this experience with me. It makes me stronger and informs my approach to the next opportunity. But as for the dancing, that only exists in the moment; it's like a metaphor for life.

Sherman in Stephen Mills' Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project.

Tony Spielberg, Courtesy Ballet Austin

When I'm dancing, I am connected to everything and everyone that has come before and all that has yet to be created. I dance to uphold history and tradition and to take part in the ventures of the future. I dance to tell a story, to make an impact, to connect with people. I have made lifelong friendships, and been forever impacted by my teachers, mentors and directors. I have discovered my own voice while following the vision of the extraordinary artists I have had the honor of creating with.

After 21 years of dancing professionally, I am dancing now to express my heartfelt gratitude for those who have shaped the dancer and the person I have become. I am dancing now to celebrate the dedication that has brought me to this point. I am dancing now to savor this precious chapter before it's time to turn the page. I am dancing now because something keeps calling me to revel in this magnificent feeling of being fully alive.

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Studio Bleu students Jaxon Keller, Samantha Halker and Alia Wiggins. Photos by Chris Stark

How Turning Boards and Practice Mats Can Revolutionize Your Dance Training

When it comes to equipment, dancers don't need much—just shoes and whatever can fit in their dance bag. But between rehearsals in the studio and performances on stage, one major piece of equipment often goes overlooked—the floor.

Dancers too often find themselves warming up on the concrete or carpet backstage, or wanting to practice in a location without a proper floor. For years, Harlequin Floors has offered a solution to this problem with its innovative turning board, offering a portable and personal floor that can be flipped between marley and wood. Now, they've revolutionized portability again with their practice mat, offering dancers the option to roll up their own personal floor and sling it over their shoulders like a yoga mat.

We spoke with experts from every corner of the dance industry to see how Harlequin's products have become their everyday essentials: