Avichai Scher is a freelance journalist in New York City who's written for The New York Times, HuffPost, The Daily Beast and NBC News. He was a dancer and choreographer for 10 years, including dancing with Joffrey Ballet, choreographing for Ballet West and Texas Ballet Theater and running his own company, Avi Scher & Dancers, for four years. In 2005, he was a Dance Magazine "top 25 to watch" for his choreography.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.
Boston Ballet's Daniel Randall Durrett. Photo by Rene Micheo, Courtesy Dance Jox
When I was 13, I was in a class with boys who were a few years older than me at the School of American Ballet. One day before class, I gave a little sass to a 16-year-old classmate who was swinging his leg as his warm up, showing off his flexibility.
"Kick that leg," I say.
"Wear those briefs," he replies.
My face went beet-red. Was I supposed to be wearing a dance belt? I was sure I was too young, but I asked a friend of mine just in case. He told me, gracefully, that yes, I needed one and that it was a topic of some discussion among my older peers.
Even though I had been at SAB for three years, when to wear a dance belt had never been discussed.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the uprising at the Stonewall Inn, when LGBTQ people fought back against police raids and harassment. The riots, which stretched over six nights, are largely considered the birth of LGBTQ rights movement.
As the queer community celebrates Pride and the legacy of Stonewall, it's also raising awareness of continued struggles for full equality.
We caught up with LGBTQ dancers to hear how dance has been a haven for them, and on the challenges the profession still faces for equality.
Launching a dancewear line seems like a great way for professional dancers to flex new artistic muscles and make side money. Several direct-to-consumer brands founded by current or former professional dancers, like Elevé and Luckleo, currently compete with bigger retailers, like Capezio.
But turning your brand into the next Yumiko is more challenging than some budding designers may realize.
Snow Scene in Val Caniparoli's The Nutcracker for Louisville Ballet. Photography by Wade Bell
Choreographer Val Caniparoli started his ballet career by performing in Lew Christensen's The Nutcracker with San Francisco Ballet in 1971. Today, he still performs with SFB as Drosselmeir, in the company's current version by Helgi Tomasson.
It takes Caniparoli a lot of concentration to stick to the choreography.
"I have the four versions that I choreographed of the role in my head, plus the original I danced for years by Lew," he says. "That's a lot of versions to keep straight."