Dancers Trending
Taylor Stanley in Apollo. Photo by Erin Baiano, Courtesy New York City Ballet

You nominated your favorite dance moments so far in 2019, and we narrowed them down to this list. Now it's time to cast your vote to help decide who will be deemed our Readers' Choice picks for the year!

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

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Cover Story
Jayme Thornton

When Sonya Tayeh saw Moulin Rouge! for the first time, on opening night at a movie theater in Detroit, she remembers not only being inspired by the story, but noticing the way it was filmed.

"What struck me the most was the pace, and the erratic feeling it had," she says. The camera's quick shifts and angles reminded her of bodies in motion. "I was like, 'What is this movie? This is so insane and marvelous and excessive,' " she says. "And excessive is I think how I approach dance. I enjoy the challenge of swiftness, and the pushing of the body. I love piling on a lot of vocabulary and seeing what comes out."

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Career Advice
Courtesy of Fox

Although she choreographed on early seasons of "So You Think You Can Dance," Laurieann Gibson hasn't watched the show all that much in the past decade. But when she got the call asking her to be a judge this season, she didn't hesitate to say yes.

"To be able to inspire a younger version of myself, I was like, Sign me up!" she says. (And then she promptly did her homework, catching up on all the episodes from the past couple of years.)

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The Creative Process
Louise Flores, courtesy Chavez

Tessandra Chavez has always had a desire to create: The San Diego native founded her own company, Unity Dance Ensemble, when she was just 15 years old. Today, her intensely emotive work on music videos, concerts and TV shows like "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Dancing with the Stars" has garnered her an Emmy win and two World Choreography Awards. Her latest endeavor brings her back to her company as they compete for the top spot on NBC's "World of Dance."

Chavez recently spoke with Dance Magazine about how the show has taught her new skills, and why she embraces both criticism and failure.

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Mia Michaels has learned the power of inspiring those she works with. Here, rehearsing Rockettes. Photo courtesy MSG

Dancers are human, which means they're bound to make mistakes from time to time, both on and off the stage. But what happens when those mistakes burn bridges? In an industry so small, is it possible for choreographers and performers to recover?

In a moment of vulnerability, three-time Emmy Award winning choreographer Mia Michaels opened up to Dance Magazine about some of the bridges she herself has burned, the lengths she's gone to in order to rebuild and the peace she's made with the new direction her career has taken because of them. —Haley Hilton
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The Creative Process
Shankman on the set of 2007's Hairspray. Photo by Daniel James, courtesy Shankman

Adam Shankman came into the spotlight in 2007 when he choreographed and directed the movie-musical Hairspray and made his first appearances on the "So You Think You Can Dance" judging panel. But he was already more than a decade into his career as a choreographer and budding director. Today, Shankman is a Hollywood mainstay who has worked on scores of movies, TV shows and commercials, including dance classics like the Step Up franchise, which he produced. Next up: Directing the film What Men Want, which opens in January.

He recently spoke to Dance Magazine about his path to Hollywood and why the dance studio remains his favorite place.

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Career Advice

"So You Think You Can Dance" choreographer Christopher Scott woke up one morning last month, rolled over like he usually does to check his iPhone—and found a barrage of text messages and notifications. The very first text he read was from fellow "SYTYCD" choreographer Mandy Moore: "Congratulations!"

It turned out that he'd just gotten his third Emmy nomination for choreography. (Moore had received one, too.) "We find out at the same time as everyone else," says Scott. "Everything official from the television academy comes through the mail weeks later."

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Just for Fun
Giphy

Although we watch "So You Think You Can Dance" for the killer choreography and fantabulous dancing, sometimes the show is downright hilarious, too. Here are seven laugh-out-loud "SYT" moments that still have us giggling.

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Rant & Rave
Mandy Moore at the 2017 Creative Arts Emmy Awards, during which she took home her first Emmy. Photo courtesy Inline/AP

Every year, as soon as the Emmy Award nominations are announced, the first thing I do is scroll down (way, way, way down) to find the nominees for Best Choreography. Last week's announcement was no different, and it was a delightful surprise to see tap queen Chloe Arnold become a first-time nominee for her work on "The Late Late Show With James Corden." Alongside Arnold, Mandy Moore, Travis Wall, Al Blackstone and Christopher Scott received nominations for their dances on awards heavy-hitter "So You Think You Can Dance." (Shout-out to Blackstone for his first Emmy nod!)

I do, however, have a bone to pick with the Emmys. Namely, that the routines for which these choreographers were nominated do not appear on the nominations section of the site. Worse, not even the episodes in which the Emmy-nominated dances appear are listed.

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Training
Being focused on one style eventually gave Al Blackstone more opportunities. Photo by Daryl A. Getman, Courtesy Blackstone

These days, everyone tells you how important it is to be versatile. But what if you're convinced there's just one style that's right for you? It can be tough to balance a deep interest in a single specialty and still meet many choreographers' expectations. Luckily, you don't have to choose between all in or all over the place, as long as you follow your interests thoughtfully.

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Pop Culture
There's nothing else we'd rather be doing than dancing.

Call us partial, but when it comes to career choices, being a dancer takes the cake. It certainly isn't easy, but every moment we're in the studio or onstage, we get to do something we love. Here are 13 reasons why being a dancer is—in our humble opinion—the best thing in the world.

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Pop Culture

Make room for a new dance show in your television lineup. King of the competition series Simon Cowell (he's behind hits like "The X Factor" and "America's Got Talent") is said to be working on a new project just for dance fans: "The Greatest Dancer." The Telegraph reports that Cowell's show is expected to replace "Strictly Come Dancing" (the UK version of "Dancing With The Stars"), and will feature dancers from every genre.

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News
Mandy Moore loves the chaos of live television. Photo by Lee Cherry, Courtesy Bloc Agency

In the dance world, Mandy Moore has long been a go-to name, but in 2017, the success of her choreography for La La Land made the rest of the world stop and take notice. After whirlwind seasons as choreographer and producer on both "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance," she capped off the year with two Emmy Award nominations—and her first win.

You've come a long way on "So You Think You Can Dance"—from assistant to the choreographer (Season 1) to creative producer (Season 14). What keeps you returning to the show?

"So You Think You Can Dance" was one of my first jobs, so it feels like home. I love the chaos of live television; as soon as one show is over you're on to the next.

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Inside DM
Jayme Thornton

2017 has been quite a year here at Dance Magazine. From launching our new website to celebrating the magazine's 90th anniversary, it's been a thrilling 12 months. To wrap up the year, the Dance Magazine team took a moment to share each of our favorite highlights.

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Training
PC Kyle Rowling

You dance like a knockout—but can you take a punch? Intense stage combat is a crucial element in many shows, from the sword fighting in Romeo & Juliet to the left hooks of the Broadway musical Rocky. But performing it well requires careful body awareness, trust and a full commitment to safety. Whether you're dancing a pivotal battle in a story ballet or intense partnering in a contemporary piece, these expert tips can help you make your fight scenes convincing, compelling and safe.

1. Master the Basics

When Luke Ingham was cast as Tybalt in San Francisco Ballet's Romeo & Juliet, he spent a full month practicing the basic body positions, footwork and momentum of fencing. "You need to be really grounded, you need to know where your feet are," Ingham says.

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Dancers Trending

No, you didn't miss the Emmy Awards telecast. (It's next weekend.) The Creative Arts Emmys, on the other hand, were awarded yesterday, including the Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography. Among the nominees were "Dancing With the Stars" favorite Derek Hough, "So You Think You Can Dance?" contestant-turned-choreographer Travis Wall, surprise contender Fred Tallaksen for comedy "The Real O'Neals" and commercial dance juggernaut Mandy Moore, who grabbed two nominations for both "DWTS" and "SYTYCD."

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Dancers Trending
Wall's piece for SYTYCD

Last week for "So You Think You Can Dance," Travis Wall choreographed a routine to Nina Simone's "Strange Fruit." It had beautiful dancers, liquid movement and subtle lighting. The concept no doubt had good intentions. But the execution was troublesome.

My complicated relationship with "So You Think You Can Dance" will never cease. I was in the second row when the "SYTYCD" Season 2 tour hit my city; I've taken class from Season 1 winner Nick Lazzarini; I saved Melanie and Marco's duets to my "Favorites" on YouTube.

The show creates opportunities for dancers and choreographers, yet consistently holds the artistic integrity of dance to such a low standard. The nature of this competitive dance show is quick-paced, where choreographers set several dances on performers in one week or less. The repercussions of this learn-dance-eliminate cycle are such that the process, research and discussion of the dance—namely the work in spotlight—are condensed into a week.

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Dancers Trending
Kellie Epperheimer, Adrienne Lipson and Elliot Hammans of HSDC. PC Todd Rosenberg

Peter Chu, the amazing dancer/choreographer first noticed in Crystal Pite's company Kidd Pivot, is teaming up with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago for an adventure in immersive installations. Back at the 2010 Dance Teacher Summit, when his piece This Thought exploded across the stage, he rightfully won the Capezio A.C.E. Award Competition for choreography. I was so dazzled by his dancers hurling themselves in jagged stop-start patterns that I wrote about him for our "Taking Off" cover feature on new choreographers in 2011.

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Dancers Trending
Ricky Ubeda and Jessica Richens perform a Sonya Tayeh number on "SYTYCD." Photo by Adam Rose, Courtesy FOX

Last year, it looked like "So You Think You Can Dance" might be on its final season. Viewership and ratings were down, and the show seemed to be trying to hang on by switching up its format, focusing on young talent ages 8 to 13 instead of the adult dancers audiences were used to.

But this summer it's back to its traditional formula, and embarking on a 14th season starting next Monday. That means we get another summer where dance gets an audience numbering in the millions.

That much exposure for that many seasons begs the question: What kind of mark has the show made on the dance world?

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After a season experimenting with a younger cast, "So You Think You Can Dance" just announced that it'll return to its traditional format this summer.

“This season is about giving our loyal fan base what they’ve been asking for,” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe wrote in a press release. “We’ve decided to go back to basics by bringing the best of our past formats together for an exciting new summer featuring accomplished adult competitors partnered with fan-favorite All-Star dancers."

That means the show is now searching for dancers ages 18-30. Want to audition? This season, rather than holding open calls, "SYTYCD" is asking all potential candidates to apply online: You can upload or provide a link to a video of yourself performing.

Here's the timeline:

  • February 19: New York audition application deadline
  • March 4-6: New York in-person auditions
  • March 5: Los Angeles audition application deadline
  • March 17-19: Los Angeles in-person auditions

The pre-screening makes us hopeful that the early audition episodes will focus less on the sometimes cringe-worthy non-dancers making fools of themselves just for fame, and more on real dancers with real potential. Fingers crossed!

 

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Music videos are embracing concert dance more than ever.

It was the music video the world couldn’t stop talking about. Sia’s “Chandelier” featured “Dance Moms” star Maddie Ziegler moving with reckless abandon in a forlorn apartment. The video became the 17th most viewed on YouTube, and won the award for Best Choreography at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards. After two more collaborations, Sia’s projects starring Ziegler and choreographed by Ryan Heffington have collectively garnered over a billion views on YouTube.

Though we don’t yet know who will take home a VMA this month, one thing is for certain: Dancers are no longer just a backdrop. They’ve become the heart of many videos, like in Taylor Swift’s dance mash-up “Shake It Off” and Carrie Underwood’s splashy “Something in the Water,” featuring the dancers of Shaping Sound.

Pop culture and dance have already come together in television, on shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Breaking Pointe.” But music videos, generally with a three- to four-minute window, pack in only the most impressive movement. It’s a quick dose of culture packaged for consumption. “What we have been creating these past few years are products of evolution and sit in the confines of current culture. There is no chance I could have created this work a decade ago,” says Heffington, who has also choreographed for Arcade Fire, FKA twigs and Florence + the Machine. “The more people see dance in music videos, the more they can relate to it.”

But is boiling dance down to a few minutes of flash good for the art form? The success of a music video is generally determined by its director, says Jade Hale-Christofi, who choreographed a viral video to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church,”danced by Sergei Polunin. He says that director David LaChapelle’s understanding of dance helped give himself and Polunin the freedom to develop a powerful final product. “If it’s done right and it’s done with care and love for the art, more dancers would definitely go into music videos,” he says. “Anyone can look at it and understand the piece. And I think that if you can inspire enough people to watch ballet, that’s a great thing.”

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