A still from Jingle Jangle

Courtesy Netflix

These Two New Dance-Filled Flicks Are Getting Us Into the Holiday Spirit

Who couldn't use a little extra holiday cheer this year? Netflix is stepping in with a double dose of heartwarming, dance-powered programs this November that celebrate the season.


Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

First up is movie-musical Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, dropping November 13. This new family flick is a fantastical journey, following a toymaker and his family through the generations. Though that might sound like standard holiday-magic fare, Jingle Jangle isn't just another Christmas movie. It features a majority Black leading cast dropped into a semi-steampunk, Victorian setting.

And it wouldn't be a musical without some seriously infectious dance scenes, courtesy Ashley Wallen, who lent his choreographic talents to box-office juggernaut The Greatest Showman. The cast is stocked with familiar faces, including Forest Whitaker, Keegan-Michael Key, Anika Noni Rose, Phylicia Rashad and Ricky Martin, and the original soundtrack features pop-powered tunes by John Legend, Philip Lawrence and Davy Nathan.

Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker

On November 27, Netflix premieres Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker. The documentary, from Shondaland—producer of hits like "Grey's Anatomy" and "How to Get Away with Murder"—goes behind the scenes of Debbie Allen's twist on the holiday ballet. Her annual youth production is an energized remix of The Nutcracker, featuring hip hop, jazz, tap, ballet and other genres.

Though Dance Dreams features footage of the popular production, its focus is the sweat equity that gets the students—many of whom return year after year—to the stage. Step into auditions and the rigorous rehearsal process at Debbie Allen Dance Academy, and you're sure to be inspired. In the trailer, Allen asks her dancers: "Where are you trying to go in life? Every day is not just a rehearsal for Nutcracker. It's a rehearsal for the rest of your life."

Join Dance Magazine in celebrating Debbie Allen at the December 7 virtual Dance Magazine Awards ceremony. Tickets are now available here.

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Stark Photo Productions, Courtesy Harlequin

Why Your Barre Can Make or Break Your At-Home Dance Training

Throughout the pandemic, Shelby Williams, of Royal Ballet of Flanders (aka "Biscuit Ballerina"), has been sharing videos that capture the pitfalls of dancers working from home: slipping on linoleum, kicking over lamps and even taking windows apart at the "barre." "Dancers aren't known to be graceful all of the time," says Mandy Blackmon, PT, DPT, OSC, CMTPT, head physical therapist/medical director for Atlanta Ballet. "They tend to fall and trip."

Many dancers have tried to make their home spaces as safe as possible for class and rehearsal by setting up a piece of marley, like Harlequin's Dance Mat, to work on. But there's another element needed for taking thorough ballet classes at home: a portable barre.

"Using a barre is kinda Ballet 101," says 16-year-old Haley Dale, a student in her second year at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She'd bought a portable barre from Harlequin to use at her parents' home in Northern Virginia even before the pandemic hit. "Before I got it, honestly I would stay away from doing barre work at home. Now I'm able to do it all the time."

Blackmon bought her 15-year-old stepdaughter a freestanding Professional Series Ballet Barre from Harlequin early on in quarantine. "I was worried about her injuring herself without one," she admits.

What exactly makes Harlequin's barres an at-home must-have, and hanging on to a chair or countertop so risky? Here are five major differences dancers will notice right away.

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December 2020