Or Schraiber and Bobbi Jene Smith in Aviva.

Courtesy Cinetic Media

Sneak Peek: Watch a Dance Scene From the New Film "Aviva"

Modern dance star Bobbi Jene Smith has been making her way into the film world over the past few years—from choreographing for Natalie Portman in Annihilation to starring in Mari—and we have been consistently drooling over the results. Her latest project, Aviva, an independent film from director Boaz Yakin (best known for 2000's Remember the Titans), is getting its release this Friday, and we've got a sneak peek at one of the many fabulous dance scenes she choreographed.

The film tells a love story between two people, each of whom are played by two different actors: one male and one female for each lover, to show the feminine and masculine sides within them. While the plot can be a bit confusing to follow and the acting a bit spotty, the dancing itself is divine.

That's partly because the character Aviva is played by former Batsheva dancers Zina Zinchenko and Or Schraiber (Smith's husband), while Aviva's love interest Eden is played by Sleep No More performer Tyler Phillips and Smith herself. The full cast includes 30 professional dancers, who are put to excellent use by Smith in beautiful duets and moving ensemble scenes.

Fair warning: The film includes quite a bit of nudity and sex.

Although Aviva was initially scheduled to premiere at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival, it's having a virtual release this Friday, June 12. You can buy a ticket to watch the movie through one of the distributor's partner theaters.

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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.

December 2020