Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancer and resident choreographer Jamar Roberts

Andrew Eccles, Courtesy AAADT

From the Running Man to Ailey, Jamar Roberts Has Always Considered Dance His Playground

Some of my earliest memories are of being outside in the blazing heat of Miami's eternal summer, my friends and cousins and I all gathered around a boom box, blasting the best mixtapes we could make.

All it took was for that one song that everyone loved for us to start dancing like mad.


And in all of our preteenaged glory we began to show off for one another the latest moves we learned from movies and music videos. The Kid 'n Play, the running man, the moonwalk, the stomp-and-grind. We invented step routines or worked tirelessly at perfecting what is better known nowadays as twerking. With each attempt, we would put a new spin on the moves to make them our own, in hopes of putting the others to complete shame. But more so to simply give them something to laugh about. This is where dance began for me. Dance as play.

Roberts stands on a dark stage, lit by a spotlight. He is wearing silver pants, an open red bomber jacket and a red hat. His arms are curving in opposite angles.

Roberts in Talley Beatty's Stack-Up

Paul Kolnik, Courtesy AAADT

Dancing has always been a huge part of the culture that I grew up in. The freedom and agency over one's own body was always permissible, especially upon hearing your favorite song. Even as a kid, I witnessed the power of dance and its ability to focus the mind, liberate the body, lift the spirit and bring people together.

It comes very naturally to me: I feel more myself when I dance than I do at any other moments in my life. It's where I am my most honest and my imagination is unbound. Dance is my playground, and the music is my best friend. Just as it's always been.

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Clockwise from top left: Photo by Loreto Jamlig, Courtesy Ladies of Hip-Hop; Wikimedia Commons; Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet; Natasha Razina, Courtesy State Academic Mariinsky Theatre; Photo by Will Mayer for Better Half Productions, Courtesy ABT

The 10 Biggest Dance Stories of 2019

What were the dance moments that defined 2019? The stories that kept us talking, week after week? According to our top-clicked articles of the year, they ranged from explorations of dance medicine and dance history, takedowns of Lara Spencer and companies who still charge dancers to audition, and, of course, our list of expert tips on how to succeed in dance today.

We compiled our 10 biggest hits of the year, and broke down why we think they struck a chord:

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Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Nichols

I Am a Black Dancer Who Was Dressed Up in Blackface to Perform in La Bayadère

On Instagram this week, Misty Copeland reposted a picture of two Russian ballerinas covered head to toe in black, exposing the Bolshoi's practice of using blackface in the classical ballet La Bayadère. The post has already received over 60,000 likes and 2,000 comments, starting a long overdue conversation.

Comments have been pouring in from every angle imaginable: from history lessons on black face, to people outside of the ballet world expressing disbelief that this happens in 2019, to castigations of Copeland for exposing these young girls to the line of fire for what is ultimately the Bolshoi's costuming choice, to the accusations that the girls—no matter their cultural competence—should have known better.

I am a black dancer, and in 2003, when I was 11 years old, I was dressed up in blackface to perform in the Mariinsky Ballet's production of La Bayadère.

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Here's the First Trailer for the "In the Heights" Movie

Lights up on Washington Heights—because the trailer for the movie adaptation of the hit Broadway musical In the Heights has arrived. It's our first look into Lin-Manuel Miranda's latest venture into film—because LMM isn't stopping at three Tony awards, a Grammy award, and an Emmy.

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