Lindsay Thomas

Secrets from a Star: Day in the Life of Noelani Pantastico

This fall, Dance Magazine followed Noelani Pantastico for a day as she was rehearsing "Emeralds" and performing "Diamonds" in George Balanchine's Jewels. It was the start of the principal's third season back at Pacific Northwest Ballet, returning to the company she grew up in after a seven-year journey dancing with Jean-Christophe Maillot's Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo.

Here are a few of our favorite images and insights from the day:


Lindsay Thomas

"I always eat breakfast, or else by class I feel loopy," says Pantastico. "I love bananas, mangoes and Hawaiian papayas if I can find them. I most likely have a starch, like toast or oatmeal. Sometimes I'll go on a yogurt or smoothie kick. I just listen to what my body wants."


Lindsay Thomas

In August, Pantastico choreographed for the first time for a site-specific event at the Olympic Sculpture Park. "I think every dancer should try being on that side at least once," she says. Although she loved the experience, she wants to focus her energy on dancing for now.


Lindsay Thomas

To get going before pliés, she rolls out her muscles using several different-sized balls and a foam roller. "As soon as I get to work, I change into something warm and loose so my body feels at ease."


Lindsay Thomas

Pantastico tapes every toe with contractor masking tape. "If I don't, I'm likely to get a blister on that naked toe!"


Lindsay Thomas

"When dancing 'Emeralds,' I visualize Violette Verdy as a dancer and as the person I saw in her interviews (thoughtful and giving)."


Lindsay Thomas

"For 'Diamonds' I think of the relationship between Suzanne Farrell and Mr. Balanchine: Only they know what they experienced with each other, but I love to imagine that their relationship was a lot like the central pas de deux."


Lindsay Thomas

How did her European experience change her? "I'm much more thoughtful with my body and with what I am dancing," she says. "I've always cared about things, I just care more than ever now." And her outlook on dance has also evolved: "Living two different perspectives made things a lot clearer for me about how I want to represent the art form, and how I can help it progress."

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Jason Samuels Smith, photographed by Jayme Thornton

Moving Forward by Looking Back: A Week at the L.A. Tap Festival Online

I turned to tap at the outset of the European lockdown as a meaningful escape from the anxiety of the pandemic. As a dance historian specialized in dance film, I've seen my fair share of tap on screen, but my own training remains elementary. While sheltering in place, my old hardwood floors beckoned. I wanted to dig deeper in order to better understand tap's origins and how the art form has evolved today. Not so easy to accomplish in France, especially from home.

Enter the L.A. Tap Fest's first online edition.

Alongside 100 other viewers peering out from our respective Zoom windows, I watch a performer tap out rhythms on a board in their living room. Advanced audio settings allow us to hear their feet. In the chat box, valuable resources are being shared and it's common to see questions like, "Can you post the link to that vaudeville book you mentioned?" Greetings and words of gratitude are also exchanged as participants trickle in and out from various times zones across the US and around the world.

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