- The Latest
- Breaking Stereotypes
- Rant & Rave
- Dance As Activism
- Dancers Trending
- Viral Videos
- The Dancer's Toolkit
- Health & Body
- Dance Training
- Career Advice
- Style & Beauty
- Dance Auditions
- Guides & Resources
- Performance Calendar
- College Guide
- Dance Magazine Awards
- Meet The Editors
- Contact Us
- Advertise/Media Kit
- Buy A Single Issue
- Give A Gift Subscription
This Mother/Daughter Duo Is Dancing In The Same Company—But Only For One Season
There's a surprising twist to Regina Willoughby's last season with Columbia City Ballet: It's also her 18-year-old daughter Melina's first season with the company. Regina, 40, will retire from the stage in March, just as her daughter starts her own career as a trainee. But for this one season, they're sharing the stage together.
Performing Side-By-Side In The Nutcracker
Left: Regina and Melina with another company member post-snow scene in 2003. Right: The pair post-snow scene in 2017 (in the same theater)
Deciding To Have Children Early On
Regina started her career at Ballet Austin when she was still a teenager. But she always knew she wanted to be a mom. "We had our first daughter, Sierra, when I was 19—we were kids with a kid," she says with a laugh. "When Sierra was about 10 months old, I realized, 'I can still dance!' " After auditioning for companies along the East Coast, she joined Columbia City Ballet in South Carolina.
After a couple years there, she and her husband decided to try for a second child so the kids would be close in age. "I thought, Okay, now I'm just going to be a mom," says Regina. But when Melina was 2 years old, CCB director William Starrett asked Regina to fill in for someone in the corps for just one performance. "Before I knew it, I was back full swing," Regina says. "Honestly I never would have seen my path going this way. The fact I've been able to have such a wonderful career and be a mom is really unsurpassed. It's something I wouldn't take back for anything."
Regina Willoughby. Photo by Ashley Concannon
Passing Down Dance
Melina admits that growing up with her mom as her teacher presented its fair share of challenges. "I didn't want to listen to her!" she confesses. But by the time she got to high school, she'd fallen in love with the discipline of ballet and had decided to try to make her own career out of it
Her sister Sierra, on the other hand, tried a couple ballet classes, but it wasn't for her. Instead, she's currently going to school for mechanical engineering. ("Maybe she'll make more money," jokes Regina.)
Melina Willoughby. Photo by Ashley Concannon
Dancing In The Same Company
Regina was a little apprehensive at first about having her daughter join CCB. "I thought, How am I going to not 'mom' her to death in the workplace?" she says. "I wanted to let her be a professional and do her own thing and be responsible for herself." But it turned out to be less difficult than she feared. The company has embraced Melina and she's found her own place within it. "We're very close," adds Regina, "so it's cool to have her there every day. I can go stand next to her in rehearsal and chat about ballet or regular life stuff."
Melina points out the unlikelihood of there being many other dancers in their situation. She says, "It's really cool to be living out something so rare."
One of the biggest myths about ballet dancers is that they don't eat. While we all know that, yes, there are those who do struggle with body image issues and eating disorders, most healthy dancers love food—and eat plenty of it to fuel their busy schedules.
Luckily for us, they're not afraid to show it:
Looking for your next audition shoe? Shot at and in collaboration with Broadway Dance Center, Só Dança has launched a new collection of shoes working with some pretty famous faces of the musical theater world! Offered in two different styles and either 2.5" or 3" heels, top industry professionals are loving how versatile and supportive these shoes are! Pro tip: The heel is centered under the body so you can feel confident and stable!
When I wrote about my struggle with depression, and eventual departure from dance because of it, I expected criticism. I was prepared to be challenged. But much to my relief, and horror, dancers from all over the world responded with support and stories of solidarity. The most critical response I saw was this one:
"Dance isn't for everyone."
This may as well be a mantra in the dance world. We have become entrenched in the Darwinian notion that the emotionally weak will be weeded out. There is no room for them anyway.
Growing up in a family-owned dance studio in Missouri had its perks for tap dancer Anthony Russo. But it also earned him constant taunting, especially in high school.
"There was a junior in my sophomore year health class who was absolutely relentless," he says. "I'd get tripped on my way to the front of the classroom and he'd say, 'Watch out, twinkle toes.' If I raised my hand and answered a question incorrectly, I'd hear a patronizing 'Nice one, Bojangles.' "
What does a superstar like Carlos Acosta do after bidding farewell to his career in classical ballet? In Acosta's case, he returns to his native country, Cuba, to funnel his fame, connections and prodigious energies back into the dance scene that formed him. Because of its top-notch, state-supported training programs and popular embrace of the art of dance, Cuba is brimming with talented dancers. What it has been short on, until recently, are opportunities outside of the mainstream companies, as well as access to a more international repertoire. That is changing now, and, with the creation of Acosta Danza, launched in 2016, Acosta is determined to open the doors even wider to new ideas and audiences.
There's so much more to the dance world than making and performing dances. Arts administrators do everything from raising money to managing companies to building new audiences. With the growing number of arts administration programs in colleges, dancers have an opportunity to position themselves for a multifaceted career on- or offstage—and to bring their unique perspective as artists to administrative work.
While Solange was busy helping big sis Beyoncé give Coachella its best performances of all time, an equally compelling project was quietly circulating on Instagram:
New York City Ballet continues its first year without Peter Martins at the helm as our spring season opens tonight.
When he retired at the start of the new year, we plunged headfirst into unknown, murky waters. Who would the new director be? When would we know? Would we dancers get some say in the decision? Who would oversee the Balanchine ballets? Who would be in charge of casting? Would a new director bring along huge upheaval? Could some of us be out of a job?
In the world of ballet, Arcadian Broad is a one-stop shop: He'll come up with a story, compose its music, choreograph the movement and dance it himself. But then Broad has always been a master of versatility. As a teenager he juggled school, dance and—after the departure of his father—financial responsibility. It was Broad's income from dancing that kept his family afloat. Fast-forward six years and things are far more stable. Broad now lives on his own in an apartment, but you can usually find him in the studio.
Bales of hay, black umbrellas, bicycles—this Midsummer Night's Dream would be unrecognizable to the Bard. Alexander Ekman's full-length, inspired by Scandinavian solstice traditions and set to music by Mikael Karlsson, is a madcap celebration of the longest day of the year, when the veil between our world and that of the supernatural is said to be at its thinnest. The Joffrey Ballet's performances mark the seductively surreal work's North American premiere. April 25–May 6. joffrey.org.