Just for Fun

12 Childhood Pics and Videos That Prove These Stars Were Born to Dance

A young Robbie Fairchild, posing for a tap number. Courtesy Fairchild.

When you hear names like Maria Kochetkova, Sutton Foster and Robbie Fairchild, you immediately picture flashes of them as the fully-formed, phenomenal performers they are today.

But even when they were kids, they had a glimmer of their future star power, giving a glimpse of what was to come. Thankfully for Instagram, we've got the pictures and home videos to prove it.


Robbie and Megan Fairchild

Now: Talk about talent running in the family. Sister Megan is now a principal at New York City Ballet, while her brother Robbie has since departed NYCB, delving in to Broadway and film, including the much-anticipated Cats film.

Then: The sibling duo was putting on their own shows at home, with Megan lending her old costume to her Robbie. Mid-performance, Robbie even gets snot rubbed off his face.

Diana Vishneva

Now: Full-on ballet royalty, at 43, she's still performing with the Mariinsky and runs her contemporary dance festival, CONTEXT.

Then: Back in 1994, 18-year-old Vishneva gave a welcome address to kick off the new school year at the Vaganova Ballet Academy. It was an honor awarded to the program's most promising senior student.

Natalia Arja and Renan Cerdeiro

Now: The longtime friends are colleagues at Miami City Ballet, where Arja is a principal soloist and Cerdeiro is a principal.

Then: Back home in their native Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the pair was chummy, seizing the opportunity to dance together even outside of class.

James Whiteside

Now: Whiteside is his own brand of triple threat: a principal at American Ballet Theatre, pop performer JbDubs and a choreographer.

Then: He was a regular teen who admittedly loved dancing to Britney Spears. We can't say we're surprised.

Daniil Simkin

Now: An international ballet superstar—currently a principal at Staatsballett Berlin and American Ballet Theatre—known for his bounding jumps and sailing turns

Then: A promising young dancer, known for his bounding jumps and sailing turns. Some things never change.

Catherine Hurlin

Now: A captivating soloist who's scooping up roles at American Ballet Theatre, Hurlin is also known by her nickname, Hurricane.

Then: At age 3, Hurlin seemed to be channeling Isadorables vibes, posing in a flowing vintage dress.

Kathryn Morgan

Now: Morgan leaps back into company life this season as a soloist at Miami City Ballet.

Then: From a young age, she was cheesing it up and already feeling at home in a mess of tulle and sequins.

Kyle Abraham

Now: The busy MacArthur "genius" choreographer is creating work this season for his own company, A.I.M, plus Misty Copeland, Paul Taylor Dance Company and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

Then: Abraham was that cool kid in high school who was also deeply intellectual. A longtime music lover, he played cello as a teen.

Maria Kochetkova

Now: Though the ballet maverick has struck out on her own, leaving traditional company life behind, Kochetkova continues to perform around the world.

Then: While most ballet students dance in a Nutcracker growing up, very few can say their first was at the Bolshoi Ballet School. Welcome to the life of Kochetkova.

Ryan Heffington

Now: Heffington has molded a career out of making the awkward enticingly cool, whether he's choreographing for Sia or crafting the central "five movements" for Netflix's "The OA."

Then: He was a spiffy dance student who appeared several times on "Star Search."

Karina González

Now: A longtime principal at Houston Ballet, the audience favorite also became a mother last year.

Then: As a kid in Venezuela, González was literally bending over backwards to dance. After showing up at the wrong address for dance lessons, we're extremely glad she was swiftly redirected to the right school.

Sutton Foster

Now: Foster is preparing to strike Broadway gold once again for the 2020 revival of The Music Man, in which she'll star opposite Hugh Jackman.

Then: Based on this early tap routine, Sutton was clearly destined for Broadway.

In Memoriam
A flyer showing Alberto Alonso, Fernando Alonso, Benjamin Steinberg and Alicia Alonso. Photo courtesy the author

Alicia has died. I walked around my apartment feeling her spirit, but knowing something had changed utterly.

My father, the late conductor Benjamin Steinberg, was the first music director of the Ballet de Cuba, as it was called then. I grew up in Vedado on la Calle 1ra y doce in a building called Vista al Mar. My family lived there from 1959 to 1963. My days were filled with watching Alicia teach class, rehearse and dance. She was everything: hilarious, serious, dramatic, passionate and elegiac. You lost yourself and found yourself when you loved her.

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Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Left: Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston Ballet's Dance Lab; Courtesy Harlequin. Right: The Dance Lab pre-Harvey; Nic Lehoux, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.

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Hansuke Yamamoto in Helgi Tomasson's Nutcracker at San Francisco Ballet, which features an exciting and respectful Chinese divertissement. Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

It's Nutcracker time again: the season of sweet delights and a sparkling good time—if we're able to ignore the sour taste left behind by the outdated racial stereotypes so often portrayed in the second act.

In 2017, as a result of a growing list of letters from audience members, to New York City Ballet's ballet master in chief Peter Martins reached out to us asking for assistance on how to modify the elements of Chinese caricature in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. Following that conversation, we founded the Final Bow for Yellowface pledge that states, "I love ballet as an art form, and acknowledge that to achieve a diversity amongst our artists, audiences, donors, students, volunteers, and staff, I am committed to eliminating outdated and offensive stereotypes of Asians (Yellowface) on our stages."

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Dance & Activism
Allegra Bautista in Nevertheless, by ka·nei·see | collective. Photo by Robbie Sweeny

An audience member once emailed Dallas choreographer Joshua L. Peugh, claiming his work was vulgar. It complained that he shouldn't be pushing his agenda. As the artistic director of Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, Peugh's recent choreography largely deals with LGBTQ issues.

"I got angry when I saw that email, wrote my angry response, deleted it, and then went back and explained to him that that's exactly why I should be making those works," says Peugh.

With the current political climate as polarized as it is, many artists today feel compelled to use their work to speak out on issues they care deeply about. But touring with a message is not for the faint of heart. From considerations about how to market the work to concerns about safety, touring to cities where, in general, that message may not be so welcome, requires companies to figure out how they'll respond to opposition.

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