The First Ones to Watch
In 2001, Dance Magazine published its first edition of "25 to Watch," with this introduction: "From our far-flung correspondents, here they are: the dancers, choreographers, troupes and trends we'll be watching in 2001 and for years to come."
Thirteen years may not seem exceptionally long ago—especially given that Dance Magazine has been featuring up-and-coming dancers since 1927. But what's so astounding is that the world hasn't stopped watching many of our original 25. And we're sure they'll be watching the breakout stars of 2014 for years to come, too.
Here are a few of the standout names from that 2001 list:
"Daniel Ulbricht, Big Fish in a Great School"
"Ballet has a budding superstar in Daniel Ulbricht, a 17-year-old student at the School of American Ballet...he is a remarkably compact package of burgeoning pyrotechnics and innate musicality." —Harris Green
(Photo by Costas.)
"Wayne McGregor, Virtual Virtuoso"
"The choreography of Wayne McGregor is reaching a gratifying maturity...Equally adept with toe shoes and bare feet, [McGregor] is offering nothing less than the next step in the evolution of new dance at one of the world's premier dance institutions." —Donald Hutera
"Ashley Bouder: An Apprentice's Sorcery"
"Ashley Bouder is all of 17, an apprentice at the New York City Ballet, winner of the School of American Ballet's prestigious Mae L. Wien Award—and fabulously talented...She's a born performer, lighting up the stage from the moment she steps out...Her dream: to become a New York City Ballet principal." —Lynn Garafola
(Bouder in George Balanchine's Stars and Stripes. Photo by Paul Kolnik.)
"Marcelo Gomes, ABT's Man from Rio"
"At age 20, American Ballet Theatre soloist Marcelo Gomes has been dancing for thirteen years. Born in Brazil, he knew at age 7 he'd be a dancer...Matinee-idol handsome, Gomes is exuberant onstage, whether in the classics or ABT's growing modern repertoire. In person, he's a charmer—friendly, confident and generous with his colleagues." —Gus Solomons jr
(Photo by Mira, Courtesy Rosalie O'Connor.)
"Caroline Rocher, Dance Theatre of Harlem's Rising Star"
"Sleek and sexy in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue and soft and dreamy as the Dark Angel in Serenade, Caroline Rocher has made her mark at Dance Theatre of Harlem. At 23, she has just been promoted to principal dancer." —Wendy Perron
Does the second tapper from the right look familiar? He might if you're a fan of "So You Think You Can Dance": It's Adé Chiké Torbert, then 13 and a member of The Young Hoofers, which in 2001's "25 to Watch" was profiled by Jane Goldberg as "The Future on Tap."
(The Young Hoofers from left: Sekou Torbert, Sheldon Gordon, Lance Liles, Jamal Brown, Calvin Booker, Adé Chiké Torbert, Shakir Torbert. Photo by Traci Mann.)
Dancers are understandably obsessed with food. In both an aesthetic and athletic profession, you know you're judged on your body shape, but you need proper fuel to perform your best. Meanwhile, you're inundated with questionable diet advice.
"My 'favorite' was the ABC diet," says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Koskinen, who trained in dance seriously but was convinced her body type wouldn't allow her to pursue it professionally. "On the first day you eat only foods starting with the letter A, on the second day only B, and so on."
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
Yvonne Rainer's Parts of Some Sextets (AKA "the mattress dance") hasn't been revived since it premiered in 1965. Nor has Rainer had any wish to do it again, to ask performers to heave 10 mattresses around while carrying out 31 tasks that changed every 30 seconds. It was an unwieldy, difficult dance. (Even the title is unwieldy.) But Emily Coates, who has danced in Rainer's work for 20 years, became curious about this piece and was determined to see it again—and to dance in it. She will get her wish November 15–17, when the mattress dance will be performed as part of the Performa 19 Biennial.
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.