How We Choose Our "25 to Watch"

When I tell people that I'm an editor at Dance Magazine, one of the first questions I am asked is usually something along the lines of, "So, how does '25 to Watch' work?"

ABT's Sterling Baca and Dance Theatre of Harlem's Nayara Lopes on the January 2016 cover. Photo by Nathan Sayers.

It starts with a lot of dance viewing. And I mean all year long. In fact, as we move into the winter dance season, we're already keeping our eyes out for talents to recognize in 2017. Once summer hits, we start asking staff editors and our trusted writers across the world to give us their recommendations. Who is about to have a breakout year? What makes them a standout? Why do we need to talk about them right now?

Our team then sits down and sifts through hundreds of nominations. We talk about the people who we are most interested in, we go see more shows and we dig up all the videos and press about those dancers that we can. Eventually, painstakingly, we whittle the list down to 25.

Hee Seo. Photo by Nathan Sayers.

Admittedly, sometimes we miss talents—they explode so quickly onto the dance scene that they outgrow the "to Watch" list before they even make it on. But generally, our track record is on point. We picked out Hee Seo, now an American Ballet Theatre principal, when she was just a Studio Company member in 2006; and Akram Khan, long before he became a go-to choreographic collaborator and internationally successful solo artist, in 2002; and Michelle Dorrance, in 2005, 10 years before she received this year's MacArthur "genius" Award.

So, it is with great pleasure that we share our list for 2016. (Click here to get digital access now.) I don't doubt that a few years from now, we'll be looking back and writing about them with the same pride.

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