DePrince in David Dawson's A Million Kisses to my Skin. Photo by Angela Sterling via dnb.org
You know Michaela DePrince's story by now. The Dutch National Ballet soloist was orphaned in war-torn Sierra Leone, adopted by an American family and subsequently became a near-household name in the ballet world, eventually joining Dance Theatre of Harlem and then DNB. Since then, she's written a memoir, acted as an ambassador for War Child Holland, appeared in a Beyoncé music video, become the face of a Jockey campaign and will be the subject of a upcoming biopic directed by none other than Madonna. But all her high-profile achievements haven't changed her exacting work ethic or unwavering commitment to her craft.
James Alsop has choreographed for stars from Beyoncé to Janelle Monae. Photo via Facebook
Even if you haven't heard her name, you've almost certainly seen the work of commercial choreographer James Alsop. Though she's made award-winning dances for Beyoncé ("Run the World," anyone?) and worked with stars like Lady GaGa and Janelle Monae, Alsop's most recent project may be her most powerful: A moving music video for Everytown for Gun Safety, directed by Ezra Hurwitz and featuring students from the National Dance Institute.
Jamar Roberts in Talley Beatty's Stack-Up. Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy Ailey
Jamar Roberts has long been one of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's most thrilling performers, bringing his sinuous power to whatever the company's wide-ranging repertory throws at him. Last season, Roberts' own movement became a part of that repertory: His blues-inspired Members Don't Get Weary, set to the music of John Coltrane, received rave reviews, and returns this week as part of the company's 60th Anniversary season at New York City Center.
We caught up with Roberts for our "Spotlight" series:
Ashley Murphy in Giselle at The Washington Ballet. Photo by Theo Kossenas
Ashley Murphy was the leading lady of Dance Theatre of Harlem for many of her 13 years there. But in 2016, she took a leap of faith, leaving her coveted place as reigning ballerina for a spot in The Washington Ballet.
"I wasn't really growing anymore—they didn't need to pay attention to me because they knew I would work on things on my own. I felt like I'd become everybody's mom," she told writer Gia Kourlas. "I need to be in a setting where I'm more equal with other people."
Two years later, she's found a home in D.C.—and has no regrets about her decision. We caught up with her for our "Spotlight" series:
Amar Ramasar shows off his acting chops—and of course his dancing chops—in Carousel. PC Julieta Cervantes
Sure, lots of ballet dancers are doing stints in Broadway shows these days. But most of them aren't tackling roles like Jigger Craigin, Carousel's villainous whaler, who yes, dances, but is by no means a role traditionally played by a dancer, and who demands a careful blend of charm and danger, drunkenness and cunning. Yet this is the role that New York City Ballet star Amar Ramasar has taken on—and triumphantly, too. The New York Times called his Broadway debut "electric."
Caleb Teicher in "Variations." PC Sally Cohn, Courtesy Richard Kornberg & Associates
At age 24, dancer and choreographer Caleb Teicher already has accolades beyond his years. But this week, the Bessie Award–winning performer adds another impressive feat to his resumé: His company's Joyce Theater debut. Though tap is Teicher's focus, he masterfully combines everything from jazz to Lindy Hop to hip hop in his fresh, clever choreography.
Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie has a thing for breaking boundaries. A trained ballet dancer, Asherie fell in love with hip hop in college and soon became one of the most talked-about b-girls on the scene. Today, she brings house and breaking to concert stages with her celebrated choreography, and continues to cross genres as a dancer in works by artists like Michelle Dorrance.
It may be her eighteenth season with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, but Hope Boykin is showing no signs of slowing down. Not only is she one of the company's most striking performers, but she's proven that she's a choreographer with something to say. The company will dance her powerful 2016 work, r-Evolution, Dream. again during its New York City Center season, which begins tomorrow.
Leta Biasucci is one of those dancers whose presence seems to attract the audience's eye with magnetic force. The Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist's seemingly impossible buoyancy and fiery spark have carved her out a place in a wide spectrum of roles, uninhibited by her small stature and natural inclination towards the soubrette.
Martha Graham Dance Company leading lady PeiJu Chien-Pott has been turning heads ever since she joined the company in 2011. Nominated this year for the Outstanding Performer Bessie Award, Taiwanese Chien-Pott is known for her striking lines and visceral power in both Graham and contemporary works.
We caught up with her for our "Spotlight" series, and she told us the surprising story of how she earned her spot in the Graham Company:
When we put San Francisco Ballet principal Sarah Van Patten on our cover in 2013, we couldn't stop gushing about how deeply she dives into every character she portrays. Since then, her characterizations have only grown, and she's taken on a new role—as a ballerina mom. We caught up with Van Patten for our "Spotlight" series:
American ballet dancer Joy Womack made major news in 2012 when she joined the Bolshoi Ballet at the age of 18. And she did it again a few years later
when she quit, claiming the company's corruption had driven her away.
But today, you wouldn't guess that Womack's early career was so tumultuous. A principal at Moscow's Kremlin Ballet, she's an
avid vlogger, a regular on the international circuit and an entrepreneur. We caught up with her for our "Spotlight" series:
In January of 2016, we put a promising American Ballet Theatre corps de ballet dancer named Sterling Baca on our cover as a "25 to Watch." Soon after, he shocked us by announcing he'd be leaving ABT to join Pennsylvania Ballet as a principal.
Since then, Baca's thrived at PAB, becoming one of their most talked about dancers and a face of Angel Corella's new vision for the company. We caught up with him for our "In the Spotlight" series, and he revealed a hobby that made our skin crawl. (No offense, Sterling!)
When Miami City Ballet's fiery principal soloistNathalia Arja is onstage, it's impossible to look away. So it comes as little surprise that if Arja weren't a dancer, she'd probably want to be a comedian or an anchorwoman—both careers that demand the effortless charisma that Arja exudes onstage and off.
Her buoyant jump, playful attack and spirited stage presence have made her one of MCB's fastest-rising up-and-comers. But it hasn't gone to her head–Arja still revels in being "the clown of the group," and taking the challenges of the ballet world a day at a time.
We caught up with Arja for the first iteration of our new online series, "In the Spotlight."