Kristyn Brady is a Vermont-based freelance writer with a degree in dance from Muhlenberg College. She is also the communications director for a Washington, D.C. non-profit organization.
As more states legalize cannabis, it seems the sales pitch for cannabidiol—or CBD—gets broader and broader. A quick internet search turns up claims that CBD helps with pain, depression, acne, arthritis, anxiety, insomnia, heart disease, post-traumatic stress, epilepsy and cancer. But the marketplace is unregulated, which makes it tricky to find out what CBD actually does.
Today, Anne Souder, Xin Ying and Marzia Memoli are all members of the Martha Graham Dance Company, but their journeys there couldn't have been more different. Each of them shared how they landed a contract with their dream company.
The fourth wall has come down, and it has opened up a whole new kind of gig for dancers. Since Sleep No More became a hit in 2011, immersive theater experiences have been shattering expectations by inviting audiences to move through the world of the performance as they please. What kind of skill set does this burgeoning art form demand?
If you've ever wondered where models get their moves, look just off-camera for Pat Boguslawski. As a movement director and creative consultant based in London, he works with top brands, fashion designers, magazines and film directors to elicit bold, photogenic movement for ad campaigns, runway shows and film. Boguslawski has collaborated with plenty of big-name talent—FKA Twigs, Hailey Baldwin, Victoria Beckham, Kim Kardashian—and draws on his diverse experience in hip hop, contemporary dance, acting and modeling.
Dance Magazine recently asked him about how he got this career, and what it takes to thrive in it.
When news reached the Limón Dance Company that Colin Connor was replacing longtime director Carla Maxwell in 2016, the tight-knit group experienced a range of emotions. "Everyone agreed that fresh energy would be a benefit to the company," says veteran dancer Logan Kruger. But the excitement lasted only until the fear sunk in—there would be changes, and some of them might even include saying good-bye.
It's understandable to experience feelings of shock, fear and even abandonment if your director leaves. It's not just that you'll have a new boss—a shift at the top can have a domino effect on casting, programming, rehearsal structure and branding. Here's how to forge a relationship with your new director and take advantage of the opportunities that come from having fresh eyes on your dancing.
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.
You might feel like the second choice when you look at the casting sheet, but understudies are necessary, valued team members who are regularly called off the bench to perform—even with very little prep time. "It is like the ultimate trust exercise with your director," says Mia J. Chong, who understudied many roles in ODC/Dance's The Velveteen Rabbit as an apprentice before becoming a company dancer this year. "Often, you do a lot of the homework on your own to make sure you can produce a quality performance, even if you don't have the chance to demonstrate it right away."
Here's what to expect when you're learning from the back of the room and—when you're needed—how to step into the part with confidence.
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If you made it through several cuts but didn't land a contract, you're probably wondering what went wrong. It's perfectly acceptable to ask for feedback—if you go about it the right way. Here's how company and casting directors want to hear from you so you'll be remembered for your dancing (not for nagging).
In dance, no two paths look the same, and part of a healthy audition mind-set is accepting that you might not get what you want on the first try. These three dancers who auditioned multiple times for their dream gig share what made the difference in getting to the final cut.
When you're preparing for a competition, it's critical to find a coach who can refine your technique and bring out your artistry. Their expertise, along with your trust, professionalism and commitment, will be key to getting the most out of your solo rehearsals—and will make or break your performance. But how do you choose a coach who's right for you?
As much as dancers might love touring, the road can be a tough place to get the nutrition you need. "A lot of things are out of your control on tour—you won't be able to eat the way you do at home," says Heidi Skolnik, a certified dietitian nutritionist who has worked with dancers at the School of American Ballet. But preparing for common challenges can help you keep up some semblance of your normal routine.
Getting fired isn't pretty, but it happens. And no matter the reason, there are ways to rebuild your dance career. But don't be caught off guard by these potential repercussions from losing your job:
When Kathleen Martin learned her contract with Ballet West wouldn't be renewed, America was watching. Cameras were rolling for the first episode of the reality series "Breaking Pointe," bringing additional scrutiny to what was already one of the toughest moments of her career. "I knew deep down it was going to happen," she says. "I wanted to hold my head high."
As painful as the experience may be, it is possible to rebuild your career after being fired. Five years later, Martin is thriving as a soloist with Ballet San Antonio. "I didn't want this one setback to define me," she says. Here's how to part ways like a professional, regain your confidence and have greater success in your next gig.
Just as the Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers reached an emotional moment in an April performance of Santuario, inspired by the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, the fire alarm began blaring. Timed as it was with the actual reenactment of the shooting within the piece, most of the audience remained in their seats expectantly, thinking this was part of the show. But the onstage fog effects had combined somehow with the humidity in the theater so that there was a real need to evacuate until the fire department could give the all-clear.
An actual break in the action like this—where the lights come up and you're forced to file out into a parking lot—is probably one of the most extreme distractions dancers could encounter during a performance. But thinking about how to refocus can help you prepare for any wardrobe malfunctions, prop flubs, lighting miscues or other onstage stumbles that could happen in the middle of a show.
In the days and hours before an audition, your to-do list might include researching the company, conditioning your muscles, updating your resumé or taking a long walk to clear your head. But what you don't do before pinning on your number can be just as critical to your success.
Even if you make it through to the final round of an audition, that doesn't mean that you're guaranteed a spot on the roster. Before handing out contracts, many companies also require prospective dancers to complete an interview with staff. How can you impress your potential employer with your words as much as your dancing? Three artistic directors weigh in on what matters most.
Kathryn Bennetts credits William Forsythe's Artifact with changing her life. “I've heard a lot of people say that—the piece is just a monster in its importance," she says during a break in rehearsals at Boston Ballet, where she and Noah Gelber are staging the full-length work for what will be its North American company premiere tomorrow night.
Bennetts has danced in and staged Forsythe ballets for more than 30 years as a Stuttgart Ballet soloist, ballet mistress at the Frankfurt Ballet and artistic director of the Royal Ballet of Flanders. “Audiences are transported, even overwhelmed, by the enormity of Artifact. It ends with a bang, after which the audience tends to sit in silence for a minute."
“It makes you think about society and life for days after," she says.
Video by Ernesto Galan, Courtesy Boston Ballet
Even as a seminal work—the first full-length ballet Forsythe created as director of Frankfurt Ballet in 1984—Artifact is not pinned to its place in history, forever under glass. Forsythe has allowed his “ode to ballet" to evolve with the advancement of ballet technique and his own experience as a choreographer, says Bennetts.
For the first ballet of a new five-year relationship with Boston Ballet, Forsythe came to town just a few weeks before opening night to tweak certain parts to suit specific dancers, while creating a new group section before the finale and updating Act Three. (In the early years, Act Three gradually included less improvisation and more structure. “Part three in Frankfurt was rather crazy aggressive," says Bennetts.)
Boston Ballet rehearses Artifact. Photo by Liza Voll, courtesy Boston Ballet.
“Bill doesn't hold on to the past," Bennetts explains. “He doesn't get sentimental; he can just let it go." After all, Forsythe was 33 years old when he choreographed Artifact. “Now he says he's a grandpa. His movement is less harsh, less like an attack."
He wants this to be the Boston version, says Bennetts. “Bill always wants to update certain parts for the dancers in front of him. It challenges them, but it's also an older piece and the technique has improved."
Forsythe working with Misa Kuranaga. Photo by Liza Voll, courtesy Boston Ballet.
Forsythe is also spending time with the Boston Ballet dancers just as he's discovering his enthusiasm for ballet again. “He took a break for a long time, and I think he's having fun challenging himself as much as the dancers," says Bennetts. “This process is also for himself—he's like a painter or an actor watching himself in film. He has examined this work for more than 30 years and never had time to fix it."
“I've never met anyone not blown away by this piece, but every choreographer has doubts," she adds. “Recently he said to me, 'I can actually do this.' "
Photo by Liza Voll, Courtesy Boston Ballet
We're sure of it.
William Forsythe's full-length Artifact runs February 23–March 5, 2017 at the Boston Opera House.
Your favorite home-away-from-home app has an intriguing new offering: The chance to get a behind the scenes look at your favorite dance companies.
With the launch of its new Experiences section, Airbnb has begun letting travelers get to know the places they visit not only by staying in a real home (or treehouse or Airstream trailer), but also by experiencing the destination with locals who share their interests—whether that’s whiskey drinking, truffle hunting, sushi making, or, yes, even dancing.
Unsurprisingly, two of the first dance companies to sign up are based in Airbnb's hometown: San Francisco.
Pauli Magierek leading class
The Ballet experience is hosted by former San Francisco Ballet soloist Pauli Magierek, who will meet you at the War Memorial Opera House and whisk you right to the barre for a beginner/intermediate ballet class taught by an SFB faculty member. The following night, you’ll attend a performance, drink champagne and eat chocolates at intermission, then go backstage to meet a dancer or two for an insider perspective after the show. Bonus: You'll also get a pair of autographed pointe shoes.
The two-day itinerary costs $250 per person, but because this is one of Airbnb's Social Impact Experiences, 100 percent of what you pay goes directly to SFB to help under-served children and their families attend a performance of the Nutcracker at no cost.
Watch a trailer for The Ballet experience here.
Class at LINES Dance Center
If you're looking for something more contemporary—or have a smaller budget—check out the 3-hour Move on Market Street experience at Alonzo King LINES Ballet, hosted by the company’s community and teen program coordinator, Briana Dickinson. From the description, it sounds like you could get a glimpse at a rehearsal or composition exercise with either the company or student dancers at LINES Dance Center before you head into the studio yourself for a private Pilates class. You'll also be given "a piece of LINES gear," which we're assuming is something along the lines of a branded t-shirt or tote bag.
Your $125 fee will support the continuation of the contemporary ballet company’s groundbreaking work.
Or, if you're interested in hosting an experience at your company, it's easy to create one on the site—all you need is an Airbnb account and a great idea.
1. Set smaller goals.
“We all focus on the finish line, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” says Joy Bauer, official nutritionist for the New York City Ballet. “But it’s all the little checkpoints we pass along the way—choosing the stairs over the elevator, passing on seconds of your favorite dessert—that help us stay motivated.” Whatever your overall target is, setting short-term goals and celebrating each small achievement will help you get there.
2. Pack more snacks.
Bringing homemade food with you to the studio ensures that you’ll be able to fuel up frequently without resorting to the drive-through window. “If you’re not a morning person, prepping your food needs to be a nonnegotiable part of your nightly self-care routine, like brushing your teeth,” says Nikki Estep, a registered dietitian nutritionist who provides on-site nutrition services at Houston Ballet.
It doesn’t have to be culinary greatness, adds Emily Harrison, who counsels dancers from around the world through her business, Dancer Nutrition. “Cut up an apple, throw carrot sticks in a bag or make overnight oats with yogurt, flaxseeds and berries,” she suggests. Eating more throughout the day will also help you cut down on late-night snacking, a red flag that your body isn’t getting enough food during the day.
3. Don’t give 100 percent.
No one is perfect, so instead of following an ironclad meal plan (and punishing yourself for every errant bite), Bauer recommends a more realistic 90/10 approach: Eat healthfully 90 percent of the time and color outside the lines the other 10 percent. “That leaves you some wiggle room to enjoy the indulgent foods that you would normally try to steer clear of.” Adds Estep: “Remind yourself that all foods can fit into the big picture in moderation.”
4. Give your diet a “plant slant.” “Whole foods and plant-based carbs lower inflammation and lead to better physical performance,” says Harrison. Try making your lunch or dinner with mostly plant-based foods a few times a week. Think soup, salad, stir-fry and beyond—Harrison recommends bean-flour noodles with tomato sauce or burritos with black beans, brown rice, peppers, corn, tomatoes, spinach and guacamole. “You’ll significantly change how you feel and improve your ability to build muscle mass,” she says.
5. Rethink carbs and protein.
“The most popular myth I bust is that more protein makes food magically better for you,” says Harrison. “We have become protein-obsessed, while we fear carbohydrates, the preferred source of fuel for anyone who needs short bursts of energy, like dancers.”
Become more flexible in how you think about both wheat and meat. “I respect all the different ways that people want to eat, but I’ve seen some pretty significant nutrient deficiencies stemming from gluten-free and vegan diets,” says Estep. If you’re getting injured often or your hair is falling out, your body could be trying to tell you that your diet is not working. “If you weren’t an athlete, maybe you could pull off a vegan diet with a B-12 supplement and a multivitamin, but while you’re dancing, maybe it’s better to be a vegetarian or a pescatarian to get all the protein sources and nutrients that you need.”
6. Let your body lead you.
Devote your energy to mindfulness, not adhering to a daily calorie count, says Estep. Pay attention to when you’re hungry, and every time you eat, ask yourself how that food made you feel. For example, did it satisfy your hunger? Did it give you the energy you needed to comfortably reach the next meal or snack? If you recognize that cheeseburgers make you sluggish, you’ll be less likely to reach for one when you need solid energy.
7. Educate yourself.
Research how the right nutrients can help you in the studio. But get your information from reputable sources, says Harrison, not friends
in the dressing room or websites devoted to trendy diets. She likes nutritionfacts.org and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine website (pcrm.org) for up-to-date nutrition information and tasty recipes from qualified professionals.
8. Respect your body.
“So many dancers focus on what’s wrong with their bodies instead of all the amazing things they can do, like run, leap and pirouette,” says Bauer. Appreciate the beauty of your body as it is, and, Estep adds, be realistic about what you’re asking it to do. “Dancers rely on their bodies to handle eight-hour days filled with intense, superhuman activity,” she says. “Give your body enough fuel, and you’ll be that much more powerful.”
At one performance of David Parker's Nut/Cracked in 2005, three-quarters of his audience walked out prematurely. But the same moment that caused the offense—a duet between two men with their thumbs in each other's mouths—earned Parker hearty laughs from the remaining crowd, and eventually an enthusiastic standing ovation.
Humor is subjective, and it can be tough to get right. Though there are many moments of brilliant comedy in dance, there are also so many failed attempts that, well, it's not even funny. There's no exact formula for grabbing a laugh. But experimenting with these ingredients can help you tap into your funny.