Just for Fun

At this point, you'd think we'd all be used to the level of technical absurdity Daniil Simkin achieves when he's playing around in the studio. But then he did this:

...and now we're low-key appalled in the absolute best way.

After we picked our jaws up from the floor, we were inspired to dig up clips of some of our other favorite dancers turning like it's no big deal. Here are just a few standouts.

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Houston Ballet Soloist Alyssa Springer in Stanton Welch's The Ladies. Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet..

With her curly red tresses, Houston Ballet soloist Alyssa Springer may look like she stepped out of a Botticelli painting, making her a natural fit in classic story ballets. But watch her in contemporary work, and you see the great bones of her versatile technique. A favorite of visiting choreographers, Springer was promoted to demi-soloist in 2017 and soloist earlier this year. She continually stands out for her acting skills and ability to morph her style to whatever the choreographer in the room needs.

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Rachel Papo

Roberto Bolle's rise in ballet reads like a fairy tale—one in which he's the prince. At 15, he was hand-picked by Rudolf Nureyev to perform with La Scala Ballet, and by 19 he was hired into the company. Two years later, he rose to the rank of principal, and in 2009, he joined American Ballet Theatre.

"A lot of ballets remind me of Roberto," says Hee Seo, ABT principal, who danced the role of Manon in Bolle's farewell performance this summer. Although Bolle will continue to guest with La Scala, he is leaving ABT to devote more time to a festival he's building in Italy. His final role with the company had special significance: Bolle also debuted with ABT in Manon, when Italian ballerina Alessandra Ferri requested him as her partner.

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Taylor Stanley in Apollo. Photo by Erin Baiano, Courtesy New York City Ballet

You nominated your favorite dance moments so far in 2019, and we narrowed them down to this list. Now it's time to cast your vote to help decide who will be deemed our Readers' Choice picks for the year!

Voting is open until September 17th. Only one vote per person will be counted.

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News
ODC/Dance's Mia J. Chong is one of the recipients of this year's Princess Grace Awards for Dance. Photo by RJ Muna, Courtesy Mona Baroudi PR

Here are the latest promotions, appointments and transfers, plus notable awards and accomplishments from the last month.

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Keerati Jinakunwiphat performing in Kyle Abraham's Live! The Realest MC. Ian Douglas, Courtesy A.I.M.

Kyle Abraham's powerhouse A.I.M has recently been expanding its model. Last spring, the company invited Andrea Miller to create a work, A.I.M's first commission by a guest choreographer. The program also included pieces by Bebe Miller and Doug Varone—marking a shift from all-Abraham repertory shows.

This fall, for its Joyce season, A.I.M is again trying something new: company member Keerati Jinakunwiphat, who graduated from SUNY Purchase in 2016, is creating a new group work, Big Rings, for six of her A.I.M colleagues.

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Many of this morning's students outside the "GMA" studios with the five teachers in the front row. Chava Lansky.

At 6:30 this morning, I exited the subway in Times Square and walked towards the group of dancers gathered outside the "Good Morning America" studios. The moment I entered the fray, any lingering early morning grogginess disappeared; the energy in the crowd was palpable. By 7 am, the time that "GMA" goes live to millions nationwide, over 300 dancers of all stripes had gathered, and class began.

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Getty Images

Sometimes it's just not your night. You might have warmed up perfectly, sewn every superstitious stitch into your pointe shoes and reviewed your choreography until you could do it—and have, in fact, done it—in your sleep. But despite your best-laid plans, some performances are simply disastrous. You wipe out. You blank. You crash into other dancers. (Or scenery.)

That's not to say these indelible moments onstage are without silver linings. These five performers gleaned what they could from their worst performances.

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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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James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico warm up onstage. Angela Sterling, Courtesy SDC.

On a sunny July weekend, hundreds of Seattle-area dance fans converged on tiny Vashon Island, a bucolic enclave in Puget Sound about 20 miles from the city. They made the ferry trek to attend the debut performance of the fledgling Seattle Dance Collective.

SDC is not a run-of-the-mill contemporary dance company; it's the brainchild of two of Pacific Northwest Ballet's most respected principal dancers: James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico. The duo wanted to create a nimble organization to feature dancers and choreographers they felt needed more exposure in the Pacific Northwest.

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Fogo (with Denys Cherevychko) in Vienna State Ballet's new full-length Sylvia, which was created on her. Ashley Taylor, Courtesy Wiener Staatsballett

Nikisha Fogo dances with a rare kinesthetic multilingualism. The recently promoted Vienna State Ballet first soloist moves adroitly from the purely classical Le Corsaire to George Balanchine's Tarantella to Wayne McGregor's Eden | Eden as if all were her first language. Though her meteoric rise has caught the eye of the ballet world, she dances with the abandon and joy of a woman unaware of how extraordinary she is.

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News
Pam Tanowitz. Photo by Sara Kerens, Courtesy Tanowitz

In the annals of dance history, 2019 may go down as the year Pam Tanowitz got the attention she deserved. In the past six months the New York City–based artist, 49, has brought her imaginative formalism to the Martha Graham Dance Company, New York City Ballet, the Paul Taylor Dance Company and the Kennedy Center's Ballet Across America festival. The recent recipient of an Alpert Award in the Arts, Tanowitz is not slowing down, with new works on deck for Vail Dance Festival this month and The Royal Ballet's Merce Cunningham celebration in October.

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Jin Zhang, Erica Lall and Betsy McBride in Swan Lake. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy American Ballet Theatre

Erica Lall, a member of American Ballet Theatre's corps de ballet, accomplished an impressive feat this spring: she danced in every single one of ABT's spring Metropolitan Opera House season performances. That's 64 shows—actually, as Lall notes, "it would technically be 69 shows at the Met," since she performed in all of the ABTKids performances as well.

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Rita Moreno. Wikimedia Commons

A documentary about famed performer Rita Moreno is in the works for PBS' American Masters series, and with Lin-Manuel Miranda on board as an executive producer, we're doubly excited. Slated for a 2020 release, Rita Moreno: The Girl Who Decided to Go for It will delve into the life of the Puerto Rican actress, singer and dancer.

At 87, she's showing no signs of slowing down—for starters, her Netflix show, "One Day at a Time," was renewed by Pop TV earlier this summer. Moreno's response? To retweet this post of her—doing what else but—dancing.

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Roman Mejia in Robbins' Dances at a Gathering. Photo by Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB

Roman Mejia is only 19, and he has the energy to prove it; in the studio and onstage at New York City Ballet, this standout corps member bursts with a kind of uncontainable ebullience. Like his idol, Edward Villella, he specializes in extroverted, allegro roles: Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Candy Cane in The Nutcracker, one of the sailors in Jerome Robbins' Fancy Free.

More recently, he has caught the eye of several big-name choreographers: In the last few months he understudied William Forsythe's Hermann Schmermann, and strutted his stuff to Kanye West in Kyle Abraham's The Runaway. Alexei Ratmansky, who prepared him for his debut in Pictures at an Exhibition in the spring, is also a fan: "He's like a reincarnation of Eddie Villella," the choreographer said recently. "Great energy and attack, and fantastic technique."

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Jason Koerner, courtesy of the National YoungArts Foundation

While tapping to Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, Dario Natarelli finds a way to make something we have all heard before sound new. His choreography alternately matches the rhythmic cadence of King's words and honors the meaningful pauses between them. Watching the masterful control he has over his footwork and dynamics, it's no wonder tap sensation Michelle Dorrance scooped him up to perform with her and serve as her assistant choreographer at Vail Dance Festival—before he's even graduated from college.

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Breaking Stereotypes
San Francisco Ballet principal Benjamin Freemantle. Drew Altizer Photography, Courtesy SFB

Back when he was a living in a dorm as an international student at San Francisco Ballet School, Benjamin Freemantle developed a new skill: cutting hair. "Most of us didn't have the financial means to go out and get a San Francisco haircut," he says. So he started cutting his fellow dancers' hair and his own.

"I actually kinda lied to my friend and told him I'd done it before," admits Freemantle, with a laugh. "But it turned out really well!"

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Carlo Cruz, Courtesy Red Bull

In the man's world, Alexandra "Ladie One" Graniella wants women to know their power. A new mom, this b-girl is part of an all-female hip-hop crew called Heart Breakerz, made up of 20 women from around the world.

On her own, Graniella has won both national and international competitions and performed in dance festivals, music videos, TV shows and movies. This spring, she took the stage of the Red Bull BC One Cypher in Los Angeles, after a two-year competition hiatus following the birth of her daughter.

Although she trained harder than ever for her comeback, she's careful to keep competitions in perspective. "There's no one in the scene like me," she says, "and no one can take that away even if I lose in the first round of a battle."

At the Red Bull BC One Cypher, she spoke to Dance Magazine about female power, motherhood and her all-girl crew.

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Ashley McKinney, Courtesy LADP

It isn't easy to stand out when you're a newbie in a pack of fearless dancers. But Daisy Jacobson does, and effortlessly. Onstage with Benjamin Millepied's L.A. Dance Project, she combines the refinement of her classical training with a soulful, infectious attack, making her impossible to miss.

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Robbie Fairchild in a still from In This Life, directed by Bat-Sheva Guez. Photo courtesy Michelle Tabnick PR

Back when Robbie Fairchild graced the cover of the May 2018 issue of Dance Magazine, he mentioned an idea for a short dance film he was toying around with. That idea has now come to fruition: In This Life, starring Fairchild and directed by dance filmmaker Bat-Sheva Guez, is being screened at this year's Dance on Camera Festival.

While the film itself covers heavy material—specifically, how we deal with grief and loss—the making of it was anything but: "It was really weird to have so much fun filming a piece about grief!" Fairchild laughs. We caught up with him, Guez and Christopher Wheeldon (one of In This Life's five choreographers) to find out what went into creating the 11-minute short film.

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Maria Kochetkova in Wayne McGregor's Chroma. Erik Tomasson, Courtesy Joyce Theater.

Maria Kochetkova's first season as a freelancer has been a whirlwind.

A year after leaving San Francisco Ballet, she's already guested in Oslo, Berlin and London. Now, she's got something exciting in the works: From July 16-20, New York City's Joyce Theater will present her first solo program, Maria Kochetkova: Catch Her If You Can.

Mounting such a production took a lot of time, self-development and courage, she says—but she's up for the challenge.

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