At this point, you'd think we'd all be used to the level of technical absurdity Daniil Simkin achieves when he's playing around in the studio. But then he did this:

...and now we're low-key appalled in the absolute best way.

After we picked our jaws up from the floor, we were inspired to dig up clips of some of our other favorite dancers turning like it's no big deal. Here are just a few standouts.

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Ballet Stars
Adiarys Almeida in Don Quixote. Courtesy Almeida.

How was training at the Cuban National Ballet School different from what you see in the U.S.?
It was free education, so it was very hard to get in, and there was a cut every year. We had academics alongside art, and we had to take a lot of different things: modern, character, ballroom, choreography composition, history of dance, music, French, makeup—everything you need for this profession.

Why did you defect?
I always wanted to have an international career. But also, I was 19, and I had a boyfriend. We were dating in Cuba when he won the lottery visa to come to the United States. When I was on tour here with the National Ballet he came to see me and I thought, I'm in love! So I stayed with him.

Has the political opening of Cuba affected you?
Before, if you defected, you had to wait five years to go back. That was pretty rough. Things have changed so much. It's about time; we're neighbors! Last year I was able to go back and perform at the Grand Theater in Havana—with my family, my teachers and my friends there.

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News
Madison Penney, Youth Grand Prix winner at the YAGP 2017 Finals. Photo by VAM, Courtesy YAGP.

We're in the thick of Youth America Grand Prix regional semi-final season, and the famous competition is now being made available to fans everywhere at the click of a mouse. Here are two ways to keep up with YAGP from wherever you are:


Regional Semi-Finals Live Broadcast

Rooting for a friend competing or just want to keep tabs on the ballet world? A live broadcast of the competition is now available here. This weekend (January 12-14) are the Tampa, Florida and Denver, Colorado semi-finals; packages to watch online start at $13.99. You can choose 2, 4, 6 or 12 total viewing hours, and log in and out of the site at your convenience. YAGP is also broadcasting their "Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow" gala in Tampa this Saturday at 8 pm EST. The performance will feature National Ballet of Canada's Evan McKie and Svetlana Lunkina, Ballet West's Beckanne Sisk and Chase O'Connell, New York City Ballet's Ashley Bouder and Daniel Ulbricht and international guest artists Adiarys Almeida and Taras Domitro.

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Students from The Art of Classical Ballet school in last year's gala.

Photo by Neil-Cohen Photography

 

When Mauricio Cañete retired from dancing a few years ago, he wanted to find a way to give back to the dance community. The former Houston Ballet and Ballet Florida dancer considered producing a competition or a gala of professional dancers. But he wanted to do something different.  “At the time I was guesting with a lot of schools,” says Cañete, who lives in West Palm Beach. “I realized that there were so many talented students, but that they really didn’t have the chance to perform beyond once or twice a year. I thought, why not give them the opportunity to dance in a professional environment?” The Florida Youth Dance Gala was born, with its debut held last year to sold-out audiences.

 

This year’s gala on Saturday, February 7 in West Palm Beach, will showcase over 50 student dancers from 16 academies across the state. And because there’s no competition attached, participants enjoy the benefit of performing without the pressure of being judged. “For me, being a dancer is more about the artistic side than the technical side,” says Cañete, who spends the year scouting talent by consulting with school directors and attending performances and regional competitions. “I look for students with a lot of heart, who are going to really wow the audience.” He then works with the school directors to put together a comprehensive program that includes a mix of classical, contemporary and Balanchine works. And for added inspiration, principal guest artists Adiarys Almeida and Randy Herrera are also slated to perform.

 

For tickets and more information, go to floridayouthdancegala.com.

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