Playlists

The most-played song on your Spotify says a lot about you. Maybe it's that guilty pleasure track you dance to while you're in the kitchen, or the one you have to listen to before going onstage.

We talked to 10 of our favorite pros about the song that's racked up the most plays on their phones—whether it's one they teach to, cross-train to, or just a song that helps them escape.

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Rant & Rave
Monica Bill Barnes' The Running show is set in the world of sports. Julia Discenza, Courtesy Barnes

Is dance a sport? A Google search of that question will yield hundreds of results of impassioned arguments about whether or not we should consider dance a sport. The fact that breaking was recently provisionally added to the 2024 Summer Olympics program is certain to make the conversation even more heated.

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News
Stephen Petronio Company is owed around $6,000 from NYCharities. Photo by Yi-Chun Wu, Courtesy Stephen Petronio Company.

In theory, NYCharities was a small dance company's dream. Free to use, the nonprofit acted as a clearinghouse for companies to accept credit and debit card donations online. It also allowed companies to sell tickets to galas and events, set up recurring donations and even give donors the option to pay processing fees themselves—an important feature for dance companies with small budgets.

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Rant & Rave
Ballet Hispánico, here in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's Linea Recta, danced the most work by women, of the companies studied. Paula Lobo, via Ballet Hispánico

In the past several years, ballet has been called out time and again for not fostering, presenting and commissioning the work of women. Recently, highlighting women ballet choreographers has become somewhat of a trend, with companies pioneering initiatives to try to close the gender gap, or presenting all-women programs.

But numbers don't lie, and unfortunately, we still haven't made much progress.

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Dance & Science
Via Wikimedia Commons

When Dr. Mae Jemison was growing up, she was obsessed with space. But she didn't see any astronauts who looked like her.

"I said, Wait a minute. Why are all the astronauts white males?" she recounts in a CNN video. "What if the aliens saw them and said, Are these the only people on Earth?"

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Dance in Pop Culture
Jamie Smed via Wikimedia Commons

Congratulations to the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team for their epic World Cup dominance! Now that the tournament is over and we're basking in all the patriotic feminist glory, we decided to do the only thing that made sense to us as soccer-obsessed dancers: Decide what kind of dancers the USWNT players would be if they made sudden and drastic career changes.

We've been watching their technique closely for weeks now, and have come up with what we're pretty sure is a definitive and highly accurate list:

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Health & Body
Quinn Wharton for Pointe

We know there are certain things dancers can do pre-show to help them perform at their best. (Like warming up, eating something energizing and maybe even taking a nap!)

But pre-show routines are also highly individual, and involve artists preparing their heads for performance just as much as their bodies. That could mean anything from listening to a favorite song, bonding with cast members or meditating.

Feeling like your pre-show ritual could use a bit of inspiration? These 12 pros shared their tried-and-true routines with us:

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Playlists
Jayme Thornton

Monica Bill Barnes is one of the funniest choreographers working today. And though the style of physical humor she's crafted with her frequent collaborator Anna Bass could elicit laughs even in dead silence, the pair's antics are often supplemented with—or juxtaposed against—music choices that feel both unexpected and yet somehow perfectly fitting.

It turns out that music plays a significant role in Barnes' creative process, too: Even songs that don't end up in her shows help her develop material and figure out the tone of a work. Barnes talked to us about her relationship with music, and made us a playlist of songs that "feel supportive in nature," she says. "They're go-to hits that help me understand something about the material; good fallbacks when I'm not sure where a particular show is heading."

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Health & Body
Luis Quintero via Unsplash

Happy first day of summer! It's the season of sweaty rehearsals, outdoor performances, and for some of us, summer layoff.

How to stay in shape sans daily company class without breaking the bank? If you're in New York City, you're in luck: You can cross-train for free this summer with a variety of options throughout the boroughs. Bonus: They're all outside!

Not in NYC? Most major cities have similar offerings—check out the programming for your local parks and cultural centers to find out.

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Dancers Trending
Courtesy Davies

In dance, we sometimes hear of a late bloomer who defies the odds. Or of dancers who overcome incredible injuries to return to the stage.

But both? That's not a story we hear often. That is, however, Darla Davies' story, one that she tells in her recent book Who Said I'd Never Dance Again? A Journey from Hip Replacement Surgery to Athletic Victory. Davies, who is now 61, started her ballroom dance training just twenty years ago, and has won two U.S. championships—one of which she earned after a hip replacement.

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Dance in Pop Culture
David Knight

Mumford & Sons' banjoist and lead guitarist Winston Marshall used to consider himself someone who "vaguely appreciated" dance. But then, about a year ago, he saw Yeman Brown improvise to Beyoncé's "Halo."

"My heart went into my throat and I was quite literally moved to tears," he says. "It stole my breath away. I didn't know dance could make you feel that way."

That moment—which occurred during a video shoot at choreographer Kristin Sudeikis' Forward Space in New York City—not only changed Marshall's relationship to dance, but his relationship to music, he says. It also inspired Mumford & Sons' newest video, "Woman," choreographed by Sudeikis and featuring Brown and dancer Stephanie Crousillat, and debuting here on dancemagazine.com:

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Spotlight
Matthew Brush, Courtesy Jonas

When we named Jacob Jonas one of our "25 to Watch" two years ago, he was turning heads with his innovative #CamerasandDancers Instameet series and the high-profile collaborations it earned him. #CamerasandDancers is still going strong—in fact a few months back Jonas celebrated his 50th meet—as is Jonas' savvy social media presence. But let us not forget that Jonas also has a sleek L.A.-based contemporary dance company which has also made exciting leaps in the past few years, performing in increasingly impressive venues—including Beverly Hills' Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, where they are currently the company-in-residence—as Jonas continues to refine his dynamic choreography.

We caught up with Jonas for our "Spotlight" series:

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Health & Body
Bruce Mars via Unsplash

Summer is almost upon us, and whether you're a student about to go on break or a pro counting the days till layoff, don't forget that with warm weather comes a very serious responsibility: To maintain your cross-training routine on your own.

Those of us who've tried to craft our own cross-training routine know it's easier said than done. So we consulted the stars, and rounded up the best options for every zodiac sign. (TBH, you should probably consult an expert, too—we'd recommend a physical therapist, a personal trainer or your teacher.)

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Dancers Trending

It can be hard to imagine life without—or just after—dance. Perhaps that's why we find it so fascinating to hear what our favorite dancers think they'd be doing if they weren't performing for a living.

We've been asking stars about the alternate career they'd like to try in our "Spotlight" Q&A series, and their answers—from the unexpected to the predictable—do not disappoint:

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Playlists
Quinn Wharton

As anyone who follows her on Instagram knows, when Emma Portner isn't working on high-profile projects—like Netflix's "Umbrella Academy" and a collaboration with Vogue and Saks—she's in the studio, dancing to a wide array of music that the word "eclectic" doesn't even begin to capture. She describes her taste as: "Audio-theater meets spoken word meets lo-fi meets classical. I could hop from Carnegie Hall to a jazz club to an underground DJ set to a Mitski concert all in the same night if I ever wanted to."

As part of our playlist series, we talked to Portner about her favorite songs, how she finds new music and how she really feels about the Justin Bieber video that launched her into the spotlight back in 2015:

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Dancers Trending
From left: via jonahbokaer.net; via Wikimedia Commons

Contemporary dance world darling Jonah Bokaer takes his work very seriously, and it shows. Highly focused on craft and unconstrained by the traditional definition of a choreographer, the former Cunningham dancer has developed dance apps, pioneered new relationships between visual art and dance, and worked with collaborators as illustrious as Pharrell Williams.

But fans of his heady, intellectual work may be surprised by a recent project that he calls one of the most rewarding of his life: Choreographing for Team USA ice dance pair Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter. Bokaer was introduced to the pair by the mother of one of his company's supporters, who just happens to be an Olympic ice skating judge.

We talked to Bokaer—who, true to form, takes his work for the ice incredibly seriously, too—about what it was like to go back to basics as a non-skater, and why he thinks skating is even more technical than ballet:

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Career Advice
Getty Images

Whether you're using social media for promotional or personal purposes, it could be having a negative impact on your mental health—or your dancing.

Nadine Kaslow, resident psychologist at Atlanta Ballet, tells dancers to watch out for these red flags:

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Career Advice
Danielle Agami. Photo by Cheryl Mann

When Joffrey Ballet dancer Rory Hohenstein first created an Instagram account, the choice to make it private was merely incidental. This was before the platform became such a powerful tool for self-promotion in the dance world, and he was concerned about strangers having an inside look at his life and younger dancers seeing him use the occasional curse word.

Years later, he still hasn't gone public, and has come to value Instagram as a place where he can stay in touch with friends and family or relive favorite memories, not as a tool to advance his career.

Though social media has become a powerful way for dancers and choreographers to connect with audiences, land gigs and promote their work, not everyone is taking part.

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Health & Body
H+ | AK47 Division

Time after time we've been reminded that fueling our bodies with healthy food is absolutely essential to dancing our best.

But according to the H+ | The Hip-Hop Dance Conservatory, one in every three dancers in New York City lives under the poverty line, and may lack the resources to purchase the ingredients they need to make nutritious meals.

Not to mention the fact that dancers are busy, and often running around from class to rehearsal to performance to side hustle, grabbing whatever they can get to eat on-the-go.

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Dancers Trending
Hamrick rehearsing Port Rouge in St. Petersburg. Photo courtesy Hamrick

Choosing music for your first-ever choreography commission can feel daunting enough. But when you're asked to create a ballet using the vast discography of the Rolling Stones—and you happen to be dating Stones frontman Mick Jagger—the stakes are even higher.

So it's understandable that as of Monday, American Ballet Theatre corps de ballet dancer Melanie Hamrick, whose Port Rouge will have its U.S. premiere tonight at the Youth America Grand Prix gala, was still torn about which songs to include.

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Dance in Pop Culture
Michael Parmalee/FX

It's a bit of an understatement to say that Bob Fosse was challenging to work with. He was irritable, inappropriate and often clashed with his collaborators in front of all his dancers. "Fosse/Verdon," which premieres on FX tonight, doesn't sugarcoat any of this.

But for Sasha Hutchings, who danced in the first episode's rendition of "Big Spender," the mood on set was quite opposite from the one that Fosse created. Hutchings had already worked with choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, who she calls "a dancer's dream," director Tommy Kail and music director Alex Lacamoire as a original cast member in Hamilton, and she says the collaborators' calm energy made the experience a pleasant one for the dancers.

"Television can be really stressful," she says. "There's so many moving parts and everyone has to work in sync. With Tommy, Andy and Lac I never felt the stress of that as a performer."

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