These So-Called "Dancer Fails" Make Us Love Them Even More
If you're anything like us, your Instagram feed is chock-full of gorgeous dance photos and videos. But you know what makes us fall in love with an artist even more? When they take a break from curating perfect posts and get real about their missteps. These performers' ability to move past mistakes, and even laugh them off, is one reason why they're so successful.
Every time you fall out of a pirouette, just remember: The stars—and literally every. single. dancer.—have been there, too. (Even Misty Copeland.)
American Ballet Theatre's James Whiteside
For every ballet competition winner, there are always many more dancers that walk away empty-handed. Whiteside didn't let this early setback deter him—and look how he turned out.
New York City Ballet's Sara Mearns
Cross-training is meant to be hard, and Mearns isn't afraid to admit it. Though she often posts videos of herself once she masters an exercise, we love how this glimpse praises process over perfection. She wrote, "I always show the final product but the amount of fails it takes to get there is EPIC!!"
Broadway dancer Samantha Sturm
Sturm got candid about what really happens at dance photo shoots. In order to achieve the flawless leaping photo below, she estimates that she did "7 millionty jumps that day," including this in-between moment above. But even this outtake is effervescent.
Houston Ballet's Luzemberg Santana and Mónica Gómez
Don't even get us started on rehearsal bloopers. If dancers had a dollar for every time we slipped, tripped or wiped out, we might be wealthy. When Santana and Gómez attempted this tricky leap-throw-catch maneuver, things went south. Don't worry: No dancers were harmed in the making of this video.
Michele Byrd-McPhee's uncle was a DJ for the local black radio station in Philadelphia, where she was born. As a kid she was always dancing to the latest music, including a new form of powerful poetry laid over pulsing beats that was the beginning of what we now call hip hop.
Byrd-McPhee became enamored of the form and went on to a career as a hip-hop dancer and choreographer, eventually founding the Ladies of Hip-Hop Festival and directing the New York City chapter of Everybody Dance Now!. Over the decades, she has experienced hip hop's growth from its roots in the black community into a global phenomenon—a trajectory she views with both pride and caution.
On one hand, the popularity of hip hop has "made a global impact," says Byrd-McPhee. "It's provided a voice for so many people around the world." The downside is "it's used globally in ways that the people who made the culture don't benefit from it."
Just four years ago, the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance welcomed its first class of BFA students. The program—which boasts world-class faculty and a revolutionary approach to training focused on collaboration and hybridity—immediately established itself as one of the country's most prestigious and most innovative.
Now, the first graduating class is entering the dance field. Here, six of the 33 graduates share what they're doing post-grad, what made their experience at USC Kaufman so meaningful and how it prepared them for their next steps:
Every dancer knows there's as much magic taking place backstage as there is in what the audience sees onstage. Behind the scenes, it takes a village, says American Ballet Theatre's wig and makeup supervisor, Rena Most. With wig and makeup preparations happening in a studio of their own as the dancers rehearse, Most and her team work to make sure not a single detail is lost.
Dance Magazine recently spoke to Most to find out what actually goes into the hair and makeup looks audiences see on the ABT stage.