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Dancers & Dogs Teamed Up With a Local Animal Shelter for the Second Annual "Muttcracker"

Pratt + Kreidich Photography, Courtesy Dancers & Dogs

The holiday season is coming our way, and with it good cheer, a giving spirit and, of course, The Nutcracker. Our favorite photography duo, Dancers & Dogs, has found a way to garner that energy for a good cause: pet adoption.


A ballerina in a red and black lace costume holds a leash attached to a dog in a wheelchair apparatus.

Pratt + Kreidich Photography, Courtesy Dancers & Dogs

Kelly Pratt and Ian Kreidich, the St. Louis–based husband-and-wife team behind the popular photography project, have collaborated with Saint Louis Ballet and Stray Rescue of St. Louis for the second year in a row for what they've termed "Muttcracker." "Since the beginning of Dancers & Dogs, people have really wanted us to incorporate dogs that are up for adoption," says Pratt. "We have a really strong relationship with Saint Louis Ballet, so we asked if they'd be comfortable wearing Nutcracker costumes to help get these dogs adopted in a new, fun and interesting way." Not only was this project the perfect way for Saint Louis Ballet to promote its Nutcracker, which runs November 29-December 23, but it was a great fit for Stray Rescue as well. As the largest no-kill organization in the greater St. Louis area, it's focused on saving pets that have been abused and neglected. "They were really excited about showing their dogs in a positive way," says Pratt.

A dancer dressed in a rat costume holds a small, blind dog.

Pratt + Kreidich Photography, Courtesy Dancers & Dogs

In choosing which pets would get their moment in the limelight, Stray Rescue picked some that already been given visibility on Instagram, and others that have had a harder time finding adoptive homes, like the elderly, blind chihuahua pictured with the Rat King above. But working with rescue dogs that are largely untrained comes with a whole new set of challenges. "With 'Muttcracker' we're keeping things really simple," says Pratt. "We have the dancers do simple moves, or just sit and interact with them. These dogs have never seen anything like this before."

Three ballerinas in Nutcracker costumes hold kittens in front of a pink background.

Pratt + Kreidich Photography, Courtesy Dancers & Dogs

Last year, all of the dogs that Pratt and Kreidich shot were adopted within two months of being featured. This year they worked with even more pups, as well as three kittens, but the team is hopeful that all of these animals will find new families in time for the holidays. Will any of the dancers they were photographed with end up taking a pet home? "I don't think so," says Pratt, "But they really, really want to."

On November 19, Pratt and Kreidich release Dancers & Dogs, The Book, their brand new coffee table photo book. A percentage of the proceeds will go to Stray Rescue of St. Louis. We're giving away two copies to our readers. Click here to enter!

Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy

When you're looking for a ballet program to take you to the next level, there are a lot of factors to consider. While it's tempting to look for the biggest name that will accept you, the savvy dancer knows that successful training has more to do with the attention and opportunities you'll get.

We put together a few of the most important things for dancers to look for in a summer or year-round training program, with the help of the experts at Colorado Ballet Academy:

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Courtesy Nichols

On Instagram this week, Misty Copeland reposted a picture of two Russian ballerinas covered head to toe in black, exposing the Bolshoi's practice of using black face in the classical ballet La Bayadère. The post has already received over 60,000 likes and 2,000 comments, starting a long overdue conversation.

Comments have been pouring in from every angle imaginable: from history lessons on blackface, to people outside of the ballet world expressing disbelief that this happens in 2019, to castigations of Copeland for exposing these young girls to the line of fire for what is ultimately the Bolshoi's costuming choice, to the accusations that the girls—no matter their cultural competence—should have known better.

I am a black dancer, and in 2003, when I was 11 years old, I was dressed up in blackface to perform in the Mariinsky Ballet's production of La Bayadère.

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Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy US Prix de Ballet

The US Prix de Ballet is taking an unconventional approach to the ballet competition—by putting the competitors' health first. After a successful first year in 2018, the Prix is returning to San Diego, CA this February with an even more comprehensive lineup of wellness workshops and master classes, in addition, of course, to the high-level competition.

Though the talent is top-notch, the environment is friendly, says HARID Conservatory faculty member Victoria Schneider, who serves on US Prix de Ballet's elite panel of judges. "The wellbeing of the dancer is the main focus," says Schneider, who awarded three scholarships to HARID at last year's competition.

US Prix de Ballet was born after its founders traveled to the Japan Grand Prix International Ballet Competition in 2016. "The company ran every aspect of the competition with professionalism, dignity, honor and precision," says founder Neisha Hernandez. "We knew we wanted this level of experience for America."

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