Originally from Central Florida, Jessica is a senior journalism major at the University of Florida. She began dancing at the age of four and has studied at Orlando Ballet School, Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts and University of South Carolina's Department of Theatre and Dance.
Four years of lectures, exams and classes can feel like a lifetime for college dancers who have their sights set on performing. So when a professional opportunity comes knocking, it can be tempting to step away from your academics. But there are a few things to consider before putting your education on hold.
When Thomas Forster isn't in the gym doing his own workout, he's often coaching his colleagues.
Two years ago, the American Ballet Theatre soloist got a personal training certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Now he trains fellow ABT members and teaches the ABT Studio Company a strength and conditioning class alongside fellow ABT soloist Roman Zhurbin.
He shared five of his top tips for getting into top shape.
If you always feel like you need to crack your back, it may mean it's time to start strength training. Photo by Getty Images
There are few things more satisfying than a good back crack. But rumors say it can have negative effects on your body—and your dancing.
In truth, research has shown that spinal manipulation done by a practitioner can provide short-term pain relief and better recruitment of your deep spinal muscles. Jessica Davis, a physical therapist in Pennsylvania and lead faculty at the Institute of Clinical Excellence Performing Arts Division, says that it's reasonable to believe that self-manipulation can offer the same benefits.
Studio by the Sea students at a local gym for their first class since the storm. Photo courtesy Wendy Lewis
Wendy Lewis, owner of Studio by the Sea in Panama City Beach, Florida, thought as most Floridians do before a hurricane. The morning of October 8, Lewis dropped off the Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker audition director at the airport. She joked that the director's departure was well-timed considering the storm swirling in the Gulf of Mexico. "I headed home thinking it was going to be a normal day," she says. As the storm's intensity strengthened, Lewis started to make the usual preparations. She pulled in chairs and plants from the patio of her studio and boarded up her home on the beach. But what started as an irksome Category 1 hurricane swelled into a life-threatening beast in less than two days.
Lewis opted to close the studio and evacuate to Georgia. She only packed enough clothes to last her a few days. By Thursday, she planned to be back at her studio teaching classes and running Nutcracker rehearsals. But Lewis didn't return until Saturday, October 13, and when she did, her studio was irreparable.
Molissa Fenley (left) and her dancers in 1985. Photo by Chris Callis, Courtesy DM Archives
In the October 1983 issue of Dance Magazine, we explored the work of then-breakout contemporary artist Molissa Fenley. Having spent the late '70s sending shockwaves through the New York City arts community with her experimental works, she was tapped by Brooklyn Academy of Music to create a new commission for its first-ever Next Wave Festival. She told us, "I don't know if New York was ready for me, but the audiences were ready for some change, for some energy, and for some dancing!" Her voracious yet analytical fusion of cultures, traditions and movement caught the eye of our editors then, and still captivates today. Now 63, Fenley continues to create and perform with the same explosive energy that marked her early career.
Molissa Fenley (left) was commissioned by Brooklyn Academy of Music for its first-ever Next Wave Festival in 1983. Photo by Chris Callis, Courtesy DM Archives
Assisting gave Eliah Furlong taste of the professional dance world. Photo by Beau Austin, courtesy Furlong
Adding another commitment to your already busy schedule may be the last thing you want to do as a college student. But assisting at dance conventions can offer valuable experiences you won't find in a classroom. Convention assistants help students pick up choreography and rub shoulders with industry influencers. For some, it's the perfect addition to their college experience—but balancing the demands of both isn't easy.
Pina Bausch's The Rite of Spring caused a sensation at the Next Wave Festival in 1984. Photo by Oliver Look, Courtesy Brooklyn Academy of Music
Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival, which contributed to the rise of dance icons like Trisha Brown, Pina Bausch and Bill T. Jones, will be memorialized in print this month. BAM: The Next Wave Festival offers an inside glimpse at the past 35 years.
Erik Bruhn and Natalia Makarova after the 1975 premiere of John Neumeier's Epilogue at American Ballet Theatre. Photo by J. L. Vartoogian, Courtesy DM Archives
In the September 1968 issue of Dance Magazine, we caught up with Erik Bruhn as he reflected on his first year as artistic director of the Royal Swedish Ballet. Throughout his career as a dancer, choreographer and director, Bruhn came to be heralded as one of the most poetic, expressive artists of his time. Rather than exchange performing for directing when he joined the Royal Swedish Ballet, Bruhn decided he had enough virtuosity for both. Whether it was himself or his dancers onstage, he demanded the same artistry. He told us, "I've said to my dancers that you have a theatre, a floor, an audience, a life-long job, and a pension, too. But you have a responsibility, too, towards that floor, that space, that audience. You have a responsibility to fill it not just with adequate dancing, but with the very fiber of your lives."
Every dancer wants to open their competition score packet and see high marks that sing their praises. But a less-than-stellar score can quickly sour what was meant to be a positive learning experience.
While winners walk away with cash prizes, glistening trophies and scholarships to their dream schools, it can be tempting to let a low score be your one-way ticket to self-pity city. But with the right mindset, even a lackluster competition performance can be made into a constructive rather than destructive experience.
Turnout can be a tricky thing. Perfect 180 degrees can make your lines look gorgeous, but gripping, forcing and twisting to get it there can lead to injuries down the road.
"It's a struggle because the demands of ballet positioning, to really do it properly you need to be turned out," says former American Ballet Theatre principal and master ballet teacher Ashley Tuttle. "If your body's not quite as turned out as the steps require then you have to find a way to make it look turned out but not hurt yourself."
While gripping may seem harmless, this bad habit can manifest in a host of different lower-extremity injuries, says Sarah Edery-Altas, PT, DPT, OCS at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Langone Health.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs Revelations. Courtesy of Knight Foundation
At a time when the political climate is increasingly divisive, it's no wonder people want to compartmentalize. Some want their pirouettes separate from their politics, and can be quick to protest when dancers challenge that both on and off the stage.
Most recently, American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston was scrutinized when she shared this post on her Instagram.
Savannah Lowery in George Balanchine's "Rubies." Photo by Paul Kolnik
Savannah Lowery is about as well acquainted with the inner workings of a hospital as she is with the intricate footwork of Dewdrop.
As a child, the former New York City Ballet soloist would roam the hospital where her parents worked, pushing buttons and probably getting into too much trouble, she says. While other girls her age were clad in tutus playing ballerina, she was playing doctor.
"It just felt like home. I think it made me not scared of medicine, not scared of a hospital," she says. "I thought it was fascinating what they did."
Ukrainian ballet dancer Sergei Polunin doesn't appear to have completely shed his bad-boy skin. A new video from Rankin Hunger Magazine,"Sergei x Rankin," shows us what happens when Polunin is given total freedom to explore his tendency for raw, emotional movement. Paired with British photographer Rankin, the duo creates a captivating video that explores our primal need for unrestrained expression set to an alternative rock soundtrack by Husky Loops.
Whether it's your first time jumping into the audition scene or you have hundreds of crinkled numbers to prove you're a seasoned pro, having a panel of judges eyeing your every move makes everyone's mind race a little.
Here are eight thoughts you're bound to have when you step into the studio for an audition.