Popular
Lindsay Thomas

Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.

So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?

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Dancer Voices
Noelani Pantastico in David Dawson's Empire Noir. Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

Apparently, it all started at a pizza shop in New Hampshire. I was monkeying around, brimming with nervous energy. A stranger approached my mom and said, "You know, you really ought to put her in some dance classes."

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News
Maurice Sendak's design for the battle scene in The Nutcracker. Photo by Janny Chiu © The Maurice Sendak Foundation, Courtesy Cultural Counsel

Beloved children's book author and illustrator Maurice Sendak might be best known for Where the Wild Things Are, but an ongoing exhibition at New York City's Morgan Library & Museum sheds light on one of his lesser-known artistic pursuits: set and costume design.

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Dancers Trending
James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico warm up onstage. Angela Sterling, Courtesy SDC.

On a sunny July weekend, hundreds of Seattle-area dance fans converged on tiny Vashon Island, a bucolic enclave in Puget Sound about 20 miles from the city. They made the ferry trek to attend the debut performance of the fledgling Seattle Dance Collective.

SDC is not a run-of-the-mill contemporary dance company; it's the brainchild of two of Pacific Northwest Ballet's most respected principal dancers: James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico. The duo wanted to create a nimble organization to feature dancers and choreographers they felt needed more exposure in the Pacific Northwest.

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Playlists

The most-played song on your Spotify says a lot about you. Maybe it's that guilty pleasure track you dance to while you're in the kitchen, or the one you have to listen to before going onstage.

We talked to 10 of our favorite pros about the song that's racked up the most plays on their phones—whether it's one they teach to, cross-train to, or just a song that helps them escape.

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Health & Body
Quinn Wharton for Pointe

We know there are certain things dancers can do pre-show to help them perform at their best. (Like warming up, eating something energizing and maybe even taking a nap!)

But pre-show routines are also highly individual, and involve artists preparing their heads for performance just as much as their bodies. That could mean anything from listening to a favorite song, bonding with cast members or meditating.

Feeling like your pre-show ritual could use a bit of inspiration? These 12 pros shared their tried-and-true routines with us:

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Dancer Voices
Peter Boal in William Forsythe's installation, Choreographic Objects. Photo by Jennifer C. Boal.

My January is always busy. Weekdays are filled with rehearsals in Seattle and weekends are spent traversing the country auditioning students for our summer intensive. I direct Pacific Northwest Ballet School and I see these auditions as essential investments in future talent for both our school and company. I do them myself to let students know their presence means a great deal to me.

January travels also offer the opportunity to visit the country's museums. Museums have been my go-to places since I was a boy. I love the opportunity for quiet reflection.

This year, in ballet studios and art-filled galleries across America, race was on my mind. I'll venture to say ballet would benefit from paying attention to what's happening in the art world today.
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Cover Story
Leta Biasucci's on and offstage charm has made her a company favorite. Photo by Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine.

Rehearsal is in full swing, and Leta Biasucci, Pacific Northwest Ballet's newest principal dancer, finds herself in unfamiliar territory. Biasucci is always game for a challenge, but choreographer Kyle Davis wants her to lift fellow dancer Clara Ruf Maldonado. Repeatedly. While she's known for her technical prowess, lifting another dancer off the floor is a bit daunting for Biasucci, who stands all of 5' 3". She eyes Maldonado skeptically, then breaks into a grin.

"It's absolutely given me a new appreciation for the partner standing behind me!" Biasucci says with a laugh.

Looking at Biasucci, 29, with her wide smile and eager curiosity, you think you see the quintessential extrovert. In reality, she's anything but. "I was an introverted kid," Biasucci says. "That's part of the reason I fell in love with dance—I didn't have to be talkative."

It's only one of the seeming contradictions in Biasucci's life: She's a short, muscular ballerina in a company known for its fleet of tall, long-legged women; she's also most comfortable with classical ballet, while taking on a growing repertoire of contemporary work.

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Dancers Trending
Our Readers' Choice winners. Photo credits, clockwise from top left: Michael Slobodian, courtesy TU Dance; Screenshot via HiHo Kids YouTube; Courtesy LUNA; Christopher Duggan, courtesy Jacob's Pillow; Jay Newman, courtesy Kinetic Light

We asked you for nominations, compiled your suggestions and had you vote on your favorites. Here's what you chose:

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Dancers Trending
Whoever told Emma Portner not to move to NYC probably feels silly now. Photo by Quinn Wharton

Raise your hand if you've received bad advice from well-meaning friends or family (or strangers, tbh) who don't know anything about what it really takes to be a dancer.

*everyone raises hands*

Sometimes it's even dance insiders whose advice can send you down the wrong path. We've been asking pros about the worst advice they've ever received in our "Spotlight" Q&A series, and rounded up some of the best answers:

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Training
Staring down the audience can be a powerful choice when appropriate. Photo by Soho Images, "Nebula" choreographed by Maria Konrad courtesy Next Generation Dance

The most compelling dancers don't just have amazing technique. They also use their focus to draw in the audience and make their performance captivating. Be more confident and engaging onstage by avoiding these mistakes:

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Dancers Trending
Alice Sheppard in DESCENT. Photo by MANCC/Chris Cameron

You nominated the best performances you've seen so far in 2018, and we narrowed them down to our favorites. Now it's time to cast your vote to decide who will be featured in our December issue!

Voting is open until September 17. Only one submission per person will be counted.

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Just for Fun
Lauren Post unwinds by sewing pointe shoes in the tub. Photo via Instagram/@laurencpost

Let's face it. Dancers just do things differently. We can never walk down a grocery aisle—we have to tap. We can never simply pick something up we've dropped—without going into a penché. But it's not a bad thing. We love all the ways that dance bleeds into our daily lives.

Turns out the pros aren't ever really off-duty either. Here's how we caught them dancing through their downtime.

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Just for Fun
Lauren Post unwinds by sewing pointe shoes in the tub. Photo via Instagram/@laurencpost

Let's face it. Dancers just do things differently. We can never walk down a grocery aisle—we have to tap. We can never simply pick something up we've dropped—without going into a penché. But it's not a bad thing. We love all the ways that dance bleeds into our daily lives.

Turns out the pros aren't ever really off-duty either. Here's how we caught them dancing through their downtime.

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Just for Fun
Lauren Post unwinds by sewing pointe shoes in the tub. Photo via Instagram/@laurencpost

Let's face it. Dancers just do things differently. We can never walk down a grocery aisle—we have to tap. We can never simply pick something up we've dropped—without going into a penché. But it's not a bad thing. We love all the ways that dance bleeds into our daily lives.

Turns out the pros aren't ever really off-duty either. Here's how we caught them dancing through their downtime.

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Health & Body
Merchant showing off her lines in the mountains. Photo courtesy Merchant

Like any dancer, Leah Merchant expects a lot from her body. "We're so trained to push, push, push," says the Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist. But one of her favorite hobbies—hiking—has shifted her mind-set.

On the trail, she's learned that harsh weather or tough terrain sometimes means you need to be patient with yourself. "It's trained me to not feel like I failed just because I need to rest a minute," she says. "Sometimes you have to let that be enough for now, and try again next time. It's more about continuing to make progress than it is about being perfect."

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Dancers Trending
Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan (at right) sang and danced as Maria in Jerome Robbins' West Side Story Suite. Photo by Lindsay Thomas, Courtesy PNB

When Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan was 5 years old, her mother took her to a Pennsylvania Ballet production of Swan Lake. "One day, you'll be a ballerina," her mother said. Ryan replied, "I already am one." Even at that age, Ryan was confident about her future; with good reason, it turns out. Sixteen years later, she's starting her third season at Pacific Northwest Ballet. Though still a corps member, she's already danced Sugar Plum Fairy, featured roles in Crystal Pite's Emergence and William Forsythe's New Suite, and the pas de deux in Balanchine's "Rubies."

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Career Advice
Requesting a meeting with your director will give you the power to make more informed choices. Photo by Joshua Ness/Unsplash

Most dancers are familiar with this story: You get that first company contract, and figure that you just have to show everyone—your director especially—how special, reliable and talented you are, and your career will be everything you dreamed it to be.

But what happens when casting goes up and your name's fourth cast or worse—not even there? When you're working so hard, pushing through pain, but you end up feeling frustrated and invisible, wondering how all those goals you began with will ever be realized? Do you shrug it off, keep your head down and hope things will change? For how long?

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Training
Miami City Ballet in Heatscape, a fleet-footed work by Justin Peck. PC Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Miami City Ballet

As a teacher, Ashley Tuttle is known for her lightning-fast petit allégro combinations. But her students might be surprised to learn that speed did not come naturally to her. "When I joined American Ballet Theatre at 16, I was an adagio dancer," says Tuttle. "I had to learn to be fast."

Many dancers immediately become tense when they think about moving faster, causing their bodies to stiffen and their shoulders to creep up. As counterintuitive as it may feel, you will find more success in doing the oppo­site. "To go faster, we have to go deeper and breathe more expansively," says contemporary teacher and choreographer Kristin Sudeikis. Even if speed doesn't come naturally, you can become a faster mover by working on your physical and mental agility.

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Health & Body
Photo via Physique 57

Barre classes have soared in popularity. Last year, Time Magazine labeled them a "phenomenon" among fitness routines, with an estimated 800 studios in the U.S.

But: Has the fad penetrated the rehearsal studios of professional ballet dancers? Not necessarily, according to feedback from several ballet companies.

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Dancer Voices
Peter Boal coaching PNB dancers in Opus 19/The Dreamer. Photo by Lindsay Thomas, courtesy PNB

In a windowless subterranean studio under the New York State Theater, I pulled back an imaginary arrow and let it fly.

"Good!" said ballet master Tommy Abbott. "I think you're ready. Tomorrow you rehearse with Mr. Robbins."

I was slated to play Cupid in Jerome Robbins' compilation of fairy tales called Mother Goose. It was a role given to the tiniest boy who could follow directions at the School of American Ballet. In 1976, that was me.

The following day, I reported to a much larger windowless studio on the fifth floor known as the main hall. The room was bristling with excitement and nervousness. About half of the dancers from New York City Ballet were on hand, plus a coterie of bustling ballet masters and Mr. Robbins. Tommy tucked me and two other boys in a corner. My first rehearsal with the legendary choreographer was underway.

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