The Creative Process

Inside Dancers' Love-Hate Relationships with their Feet

Quinn Wharton

In all of their swollen and blistered glory, feet are dancers' prized possessions. It doesn't matter whether you treasure your arches, wince at your bunions or wish you could trade the whole kit in for a new pair—you can't help but take pride in the instrument that literally supports you from the ground up. Each foot contains the intricate muscles needed to finish a line, travel the length of a stage, soar through the air with abandon and carry you home after a long day of dancing.


Lloyd Knight, principal at Martha Graham Dance Company

Quinn Wharton

"My feet have been through a lot, and their scars show the work I've done so far as a dancer. We work so much with bare feet in Graham that I have a lot of marley burns, cuts and splits. It's like a badge of honor."

Kathryn Boren, corps de ballet dancer at American Ballet Theatre

Quinn Wharton

"My feet have become my business card. Really, I'm defined by them. I can pick myself out of blurry rehearsal footage because I can recognize my arches. My right arch is better than my left, which is a complex I've had to deal with my whole life."

Soledad Barrio, star of Noche Flamenca

Quinn Wharton

"I give messages with my feet to the guitarists and singers to advise them on when to start and when to stop. There is a very clear vocabulary."

Demi Remick, tap dancer for Postmodern Jukebox and Caleb Teicher & Company

Quinn Wharton

"My feet get injured a lot, so I don't always trust them. As a tap dancer, I need relaxed ankles, and sprains affect that. I have to release them even though I'm scared. But my feet are smarter than I think. I dance on a four-by-four board on tour and my feet memorize the space and what's possible within it."

In Memoriam
Alicia Alonso with Igor Youskevitch. Sedge Leblang, Courtesy Dance Magazine Archives.

Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"

At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle at New York's Metropolitan Opera House, she staked her claim to that title role.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.

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News
Rauf "RubberlLegz" Yasit and Parvaneh Scharafali. Photo by Mohamed Sadek, courtesy The Shed

William Forsythe is bringing his multi-faceted genius to New York City in stripped down form. His "Quiet Evening of Dance," a mix of new and recycled work now at The Shed until October 25, is co-commissioned with Sadler's Wells in London (and a slew of European presenters).

As always, Forsythe's choreography is a layered experience, both kinetic and intellectual. This North American premiere prompted many thoughts, which I whittled down to seven.

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Courtesy NBC

"Law & Order: SVU" has dominated the crime show genre for 21 seasons with its famous "ripped from the headlines" strategy of taking plot inspiration from real-life crimes.

So viewers would be forgiven for assuming that the new storyline following the son of Mariska Hargitay's character into dance class originated in the news cycle. After all, the mainstream media widely covered the reaction to Lara Spencer's faux pas on "Good Morning America" in August, when she made fun of Prince George for taking ballet class.

But it turns out, the storyline was actually the idea of the 9-year-old actor, Ryan Buggle, who plays Hargitay's son. And he came up with it before Spencer ever giggled at the word ballet.

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Getty Images

As a dietitian specializing in dance nutrition, the most common DM flooding my inbox is "How can I drop pounds (specifically from body fat) and gain muscle?"

The short answer? Not happening.

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