Wayne McGregor. Photo by Johan Persson, Courtesy ROH

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

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.

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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.

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December 2020