When you dance, do you do the movement, explore it or listen to how your body wants to perform it?

This weekend I took a workshop with Nathan Trice, a former Complexions, MOMIX and Donald Byrd dancer who now runs his own troupe. His movement style is kind of a modern dance-based version of contemporary ballet; it's slinky and line-driven, but much of the choreography is actively turned in. My body loved the it's amazing flow and kookiness. Yet the process by how Trice wanted us to move was incredibly challenging for me.

We'd been working on a piece of his choreography for about half an hour when he stopped everything to ask the room a question: "Are you doing the movement, exploring the movement or allowing your body to tell you what the movement is?" 

When I dance, I know I always try to "do." Coming from a classical ballet background, I've been trained to mimic what something looks like, to get it "right." Relinquishing control to my body's natural inclinations is not my greatest strength. However I know that my favorite dancers aren't the ones who muscle their way into movement, but seem to move the way do because they have to, because their body is telling them that's where they need to go in that particular moment.

For the next hour I tried to do everything I could to let my body tell me where it wanted, where it needed to go. Although I'm sure a lot of what I did looked pretty ugly, and I fell off my balance more than once, I started to find an deeper, more internal place to move from. I ignored the mirror and my own expectations of how I thought it was supposed to look. It was definitely a struggle. But there were moments where I felt that place of abandon, a freedom that was well worth the work—or lack thereof.

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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