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Having survived two consecutive decades as a dedicated ballet dad, I've collected some tidbits of wisdom over the years. With apologies to David Letterman, I've loosely organized these pearls of wisdom into roughly 10 simple—and not so simple—rules and guidelines of being a black-belt ballet dad. Some are obvious. Some are challenging. Others can be downright impossible. But that's the price you pay when you sign up for the emotionally charged position of ballet dad.

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Just for fun

"Ballet pink" tights and palest-pink slippers. "Nude" fabrics that match only the lightest of skin tones. Unfortunately, many dancewear staples have historically been available only in a single "flesh tone" that tended to exclude non-Caucasian dancers.

Thankfully, in recent years dancewear companies have begun to respond to this issue, offering more varied shades of tights, pointe shoes, body tights, etc. (One former Knicks City Dancer even made inclusiveness the foundation of her business model.) Now, you can also get foundation garments that suit your unique skin tone with the new Mariia True Bare Collection.

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Think "biscuits" should be in the dictionary? Now's your chance. Photo by Jazmin Quaynor via Unsplash

Have you ever referred to your feet as biscuits or your pointe shoes as dead in front of a non-dancer friend or family member and seen a wave of confusion cross their face? Dance, like most activities, is chock-full of words and phrases used only by those in the know. In honor of their 90th anniversary, the Oxford English Dictionary wants to change that. They've put out an appeal to gather "hobby words," and dance is on their list (we know that dance is more than a hobby—try not to take offense).

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Just for fun
Screenshot via YouTube

Tiffany & Co. primarily sell jewelry, but it's their new dance-filled commercials that we're really sold on! Elle Fanning stars in the luxury retailer's latest dancetastic ad and we must say, the starlet's got moves. Though she may not be a ballet dancer (a fact which was made painfully clear in a 2017 Vanity Fair video of Fanning supposedly demonstrating how to do a piqué turn on pointe) Fanning's high energy performance proves she can groove and freestyle with the best of them. In fact, Fanning does appear alongside all-star dancer Maddie Ziegler, who's also been featured in a previous dance inspired commercials by Tiffany & Co.

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Just for fun
Screenshot via YouTube

Other than being one of the nicest and funniest people on earth, Ellen DeGeneres also happens to have a knack for spotting talented dancers. Thanks to the comedian's dance obsession, world-class dancers like Tiler Peck, Lex Ishimoto, and Travis Wall have performed on her hit talk show "Ellen," with dance all-star tWitch retaining a permanent role as the show's DJ.

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News
From left: Peter Walker, Harrison Coll. Photos by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

A company's corps de ballet is rarely the pool from which title roles are plucked. Yet New York City Ballet seems to buck convention, especially for its full-length production of Peter Martins' Romeo + Juliet. When it debuted back in 2007, the ballet featured a cast of untested corps members and apprentices as the eponymous stars. (A School of American Ballet student was originally tapped to dance Juliet, but she wasn't able to perform due to injury.) At the time Martins, who recently retired as NYCB's ballet master in chief, attributed his casting choices to the characters' ages in Shakespeare's play; Juliet and Romeo are 14 and 19, respectively. Also, he remarked, "Never underestimate youth."

This week, two young Romeos are stepping up from the company's corps. Harrison Coll made his debut on February 13, opening night, alongside principal Sterling Hyltin (the original Juliet in the production's opening night performance back in 2007). Peter Walker follows on Friday, February 16.

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Ballet Stars
Photo by Christopher Duggan, Courtesy James Whiteside Presents.

On Wednesday, June 19, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival welcomes James Whiteside Presents to the outdoor Inside/Out stage. This will be the American Ballet Theatre principal's fourth time at the Pillow. He first came to the Massachusetts–based Dance Festival as a corps de ballet member of Boston Ballet in 2004. ("I was struck by the beauty of the place," he recalls.) Whiteside returned in 2010 with Avi Scher & Dancers and most recently with Daniil Simkin's Intensio in 2015.

Now, Whiteside is bringing a program of his own work, performed alongside muse and fellow ABT soloist Cassandra Trenary and actor/show maker Jack Ferver.

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Dancers are obviously pros at dressing up and embodying different personas, so it comes as no surprise that they take Halloween very seriously. Here are five of our favorite costumes, in no particular order:

  1. Rubén Martín Cintas, San Francisco Ballet School faculty member, dressed as Abraham Lincoln.

 

2. American Ballet Theatre principal James Whiteside, as a very convincing Natalia Makarova.

 

3. San Francisco Ballet corps member Miranda Silveira as Grace Jones.

Grace Jones for a night

A photo posted by MirandaSilveira (@miranza_s) on

 

4. American Ballet Theatre corps member Erica Lall going all-out as Aunt Viv from "Fresh Prince of Bel Air."

 

5. Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers Elle Macy and Dylan Wald as Hercules and Meg from Disney's Hercules

And many years later, a young Meg found her Herc ?? #happyhalloween #cheesyalert⚠️

A photo posted by Elle Macy (@ellemacy) on

 

6. Bonus! The Professional Division students from Pacific Northwest Ballet School are impeccable as the cast of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" music video—with a little less fake blood.

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