Career Advice

Need Some Inspo? Watch These 8 Great TED Talks Given by Dancers

Wayne McGregor. Photo by Johan Persson, Courtesy ROH

It's no surprise that dancers make some of the best TED Talk presenters. Not only are they great performers, but they've got unique knowledge to share. And they can dance!

If you're in need of a midweek boost, look no further than these eight presentations from some incredibly inspiring dance artists.


Prumsodun Ok: Artists are magicians

Founder of Cambodia's first gay dance company, Prumsodun Ok gives a hybrid dance/speech about Khmer dance and how genocide wiped out 90 percent of its practitioners. But rather than focus only on the devastation, he delivers a message about beauty's ability to grow anywhere.

Miko Fogarty: It's never too late to reinvent yourself

Former prodigy Miko Fogarty opens up about her decision to leave the world of ballet, and the courage it takes to listen to your gut and pursue what you actually want.

Michaela DePrince: It's okay to be different 

Dutch National Ballet soloist Michaela DePrince shares her story of growing up as an orphan in Sierra Leone, where she was shunned due to her vitiligo, and talks about how finding ballet helped her discover a sense of self-worth.

Wayne McGregor: Creativity is something you can teach

Choreographer Wayne McGregor is obsessed with technology—first and foremost the technology of the human body. In this presentation, he describes choreography as "physical thinking," and introduces his creative process to the audience by making a dance from scratch in real-time.

Camille A. Brown: Social dance is an expression that emerges from a community

In this viral video lesson on social dance, presented by TED-Ed, Camille A. Brown talks us through some of the biggest popular dance styles that have emerged from the African-American community throughout history.

Charlie Hodges: Every day starts with space to get better

Sharing his stories of being body shamed over and over again in the dance world, Charlie Hodges talks about how he overcame the challenge of having an atypical dancer's body to become a professional with Twyla Tharp and L.A. Dance Project, among other companies.

Merritt Moore: Share your energy

A ballet dancer who doubles as a physicist, Merritt Moore explains how her time in the lab has changed her perspective on connecting to an audience—then she shows exactly what she means in a duet with Adam Kirkham from BalletBoyz.

Bill T. Jones: Wait

In 2015, Bill T. Jones teamed up with TED Fellows Joshua Roman and Somi to improvise together as a way of offering the audience the chance to see their creative collaboration in action. They call it, "The Red Circle and the Blue Curtain," referencing the iconic red TED stage and Isadora Duncan's iconic blue backdrop. There's more dancing than talking in this TED talk, but we don't mind that one bit.

Broadway
Courtesy Macy's, Inc.

As you're prepping your Thanksgiving meal, why not throw in a dash of dance?

This year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is stuffed (pun intended) with performances from four stellar Broadway shows, the Radio City Rockettes and students from three New York City dance institutions.

Tune in to NBC November 28 from 9 am to noon (in all time zones), or catch the rebroadcast at 2 pm (also in all time zones). Here's what's in store:

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Sponsored by NYCDA
Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.

"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."

Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.

Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:

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Rant & Rave
Sergei Polunin. Photo by British Broadcasting Corporation and Polunin Ltd., Courtesy Sundance Selects.

Last week, Variety reported that Sergei Polunin would reunite with the team behind Dancer for another documentary. "Where 'Dancer' looked at his whole life, family and influences," director Steven Cantor said, " 'Satori' will focus more squarely on his creative process as performer and, for the first time ever, choreographer." The title references a poorly received evening of work by the same name first presented by Polunin in 2017. (It recently toured to Moscow and St. Petersburg.)

I cannot be the only person wondering why we should care.

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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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