Many dancers feel that going to college is a waste of precious dancing years. But did you know that college can actually offer students a sneak peek inside company life? A number of higher education programs offer their dance majors opportunities to perform with visiting or nearby companies. For instance, Kristin Young was asked to perform as a guest artist with the Tulsa Ballet last spring as part of the University of Oklahoma’s apprentice program. “I learned many things from watching the professional dancers while taking company class, from always pushing yourself in class, to stories of how Twyla Tharp wanted her movement to feel while we we're dancing,” says Young, now a dancer with Nashville Ballet II. Young emphasized how the most significant thing that she learned during her time with the Tulsa Ballet was how devoted each dancer was on a daily basis. “It matters each and every day how hard you work in rehearsal, how easy you are to work with, and how your attitude reflects to the director and ballet mistress.”
I am thinking about pursuing a career in ballet. However, my parents have made it clear that at some point they want me to get a job, which they acknowledge would mean possibly dropping dance, or at least not taking as many classes. I agree that getting a job is important so that I'm able to make my own money, but dropping dance classes is the exact opposite of what will get me to where I want to be. Any suggestions? —Kaia
The coronavirus pandemic may have postponed English National Ballet's annual Emerging Dancer competition last spring, but the show must go on—digitally! You can still watch ENB's best and brightest talent during the competition's livestream, taking place on September 22 at 7:20 pm BST (that's 2:20 pm ET). Now in its 11th year, the competition for the Emerging Dancer Award will be broadcast live from the company's East London production studio for the first time. Tickets are available for $6.99 per device and will remain available to view on demand until September 29.
Pointe shoe brand Gaynor Minden recently welcomed 32 young dancers to its coveted roster of Gaynor Girls. But this year, the company included two applicants who push the boundaries of what it means to dance on pointe. While both Mason Simon Underwood and Colleen Werner are longtime GM wearers, they stand out from the rest of this year's group: Underwood is the first ever Gaynor Guy, and Werner is a body-positivity activist.
Mason Simon Underwood<p>Mason Simon Underwood's favorite variation is Aurora Act III, from <em>The Sleeping Beauty</em>. Last month <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CD-E14vASJ7/" target="_blank">on Instagram</a>, he shared a video of himself rehearsing it in his family's living room. His lines are long and clear as he moves confidently on pointe. Underwood, age 16, started dancing when he was 12, and like many of his peers at the School of Nashville Ballet, he got his first pair of pointe shoes two years ago, at 14. "I was in the level where all my friends were starting, and I thought it was really cool," he says. "I saw some guys on Instagram doing it, so I thought I might as well try."</p><p>While Underwood was the only guy in his school interested in pointe classes, his teachers were supportive. "They encouraged it, and said it would be good for strength and expressiveness," he says. And his hard work has paid off. Having attended virtual intensives at Nashville Ballet School, American Ballet Theatre and San Francisco Ballet School over the summer, Underwood is now moving to California to start full-time training at SFB in October.</p>
Mason Simon Underwood practices his pointework at home