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.
Yvonne Rainer's Parts of Some Sextets (AKA "the mattress dance") hasn't been revived since it premiered in 1965. Nor has Rainer had any wish to do it again, to ask performers to heave 10 mattresses around while carrying out 31 tasks that changed every 30 seconds. It was an unwieldy, difficult dance. (Even the title is unwieldy.) But Emily Coates, who has danced in Rainer's work for 20 years, became curious about this piece and was determined to see it again—and to dance in it. She will get her wish November 15–17, when the mattress dance will be performed as part of the Performa 19 Biennial.
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:
"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.