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#DanceCrush: Abdiel Jacobsen

Photo curtesy of Abdiel Jacobsen

Abdiel Jacobsen is a jack of all trades. A member of the Martha Graham Dance Company since 2011, Jacobsen dances principal Graham roles and performs in works by Nacho Duato, Robert Wilson, Sonya Tayeh and Luca Veggetti, to name a few.



But when he's not dancing with MGDC, he's teaching or competing in Latin ballroom. You might have caught a glimpse of his suave moves in last year's "Pantsuit Power" video, combining everything from salsa to the hustle and partnering with fellow Graham company member Peiju Chien-Pott.


"Both my parents have a strong passion for music and dance," says Jacobsen, "and it was always prevalent in our house." His mother would teach him West African dances while his father, a professional trumpet musician, played jazz music. "Because of this influence, my movement style reflects my experience with rhythm and its flow between music and movement."

After performing a work of his own titled A Walk In Our Heels for the Cape Dance Festival on July 29 and with the Martha Graham Dance Company at the Vail Dance Festival on August 11, he will take the stage of the New York International Salsa Congress on September 1.

Career Advice
Kate Torline via Unsplash

New York City–based choreographer and director Jennifer Weber once worked on a project with a strict social media policy: " 'Hire no one with less than 10K, period'—and that was a few years ago," she says. "Ten thousand is a very small number now, especially on Instagram."

The commercial dance world is in a period of transition, where social media handles and follower counts are increasingly requested by casting directors, but rarely offered by dancers up front. "I can see it starting to show up on resumés, though, alongside a dancer's height and hair color," predicts Weber.

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UA Dance Ensemble members Candice Barth and Gregory Taylor in Jessica Lang's "Among the Stars." Photo by Ed Flores, courtesy University of Arizona

If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.

The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:

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Dancers Trending
Alice Sheppard/Kinetic Light in DESCENT, which our readers chose as last year's "Most Moving Performance." Photo by Jay Newman, courtesy Kinetic Light

Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.

We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.

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Career Advice
Peter Smith, courtesy of University Musical Society

What happens during a performance is the product of the painstaking process of realizing an artistic vision. Whether held beforehand, afterward, offsite or online, audience discussions tend not to be so preordained, easily thrown off track without a skilled moderator at the helm.

"I'm someone who dreaded talkbacks and Q&As," admits Bill Bragin, former director of public programming at Lincoln Center. "While I was in New York, a lot of the time it was just audience members trying to show off how smart they were."

These events present a pile of difficult questions: How much do you reveal about a piece before it's shown? How can a conversation designed to hit key points feel casual and spontaneous? How do you cater to the needs of diverse attendees, from novice dancegoers to lifelong fans to scholars and critics? And how do you avoid smothering dance with language, flattening all its complexity?

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