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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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Ballet Stars

Alessandra Ferri and Mikhail Baryshnikov are two dancers whose physicality and artistic prowess truly pushed ballet to a new level. Their careers have spanned decades and continents, making them icons of the ballet world. In the late 1980s both dancers were working at American Ballet Theatre, Ferri as a principal dancer and Baryshnikov as artistic director and performer, when they co-starred in the 1987 film Dancers, a drama centered around a ballet company that included a staged production of Giselle. This clip from the film shows Ferri and Baryshnikov as Giselle and Albrecht in the last moments of the ballet, highlighting their dramatic chops with up-close camera angles.

Alessandra Ferri and Mikhail Baryshnikov - Last dance of Giselle and Albrecht www.youtube.com

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Just for fun
via @discountdance on Instagram

"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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Just for fun
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Dance teachers have to deal with a lot. While open communication with your teacher is obviously key, lame excuses for less-than-great behavior are guaranteed to get on her nerves. Always avoid these seven excuses that will 100 percent get your dance teacher's blood boiling.

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Just for fun
Thinkstock

Dance teachers have to deal with a lot. While open communication with your teacher is obviously key, lame excuses for less-than-great behavior are guaranteed to get on her nerves. Always avoid these seven excuses that will 100 percent get your dance teacher's blood boiling.

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Just for fun
via @younmephoto on Instagram

Summer's coming to a close which means it's time to head back to school and back to the studio. And though we have no doubt that you'll log a lot of dancing this fall, every dancer knows that there's bound to be down time in between technique classes, rehearsals, stretching, and waiting to be picked up. So give your Insta feed a break and check out these dance-tastic books that'll not only entertain you, but might even teach you a thing or two.

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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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Ballet Stars
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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Views

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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