While the rest of the world follows the ups and downs of "Brangelina" and "Kimye," we can't get enough of these dance stars' real-life love stories. Luckily, Valentine's Day gives us an excuse to talk about them (while eating tons of chocolate). We've rounded up DT's five favorite  dance-world couples of the moment.

#5. Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild

These New York City Ballet principals' chemistry is electric. Just look at their fierce freestyle partnering at the Vail International Dance Festival:

 

#4. Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo

We have to congratulate this husband-and-wife power couple on their new baby, London Riley! The D'umo duo graced the cover of DT in 2008 and has choreographed for So You Think You Can Dance and five seasons of America's Best Dance Crew. They even found time to create their own dancewear and clothing line, Nappytabs! Now they're taking on parenthood with the same enthusiasm they bring to the dance floor.

Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo welcomed their son, London Riley, on August 10, 2012.

#3. Olivier Wevers and Lucien Postlewaite

These former Pacific Northwest Ballet principals met when Lucien joined the company in 2003. They got married five years later. Olivier credits his partner for motivating him to take the plunge and leave PNB to start his own company, Whim W’Him, in 2011. "Lucien...pushed me for a year to do it," he told Dance Magazine. "He understands the vision." Lucien has performed with Whim W’Him and currently dances with Les Ballets de Monte Carlo.

Olivier Wevers (in white shirt) and Lucien Postlewaite in Whim W’Him rehearsal

 

#2. Stephen “tWitch” Boss and Allison Holker

They met on So You Think You Can Dance Season 2, but the romance didn't heat up until the end of Season 7. At that point, Allison tells Dance Spirit, she not only made the first move, but closer to ten moves before tWitch caught on! (Read the full Q&A here.) Good thing tWitch got the message, since clearly this love is meant to be: The couple announced their engagement in January.

Allison Holker and Stephen “tWitch” Boss in their Dance Spirit August 2012 cover shoot

 

#1. Ethan Stiefel and Gillian Murphy

These two are the original ballet love birds. We swoon over their classic "he was a principal, she was a young corps member" fairytale match-up that happened nearly 15 years ago at American Ballet Theatre. Now the pair is based in New Zealand, where Ethan directs the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Before they departed, however, Gillian got an onstage surprise proposal at the Metropolitan Opera House last spring. Ethan recalls the moment to The New York Times: “She said, ‘We have to get off the stage.’ I just went, ‘Gillian, refocus.’ And she said, ‘I do, I do!'" How adorable is that? We wish them all the best!

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Photos: via FOX.com, by Kim and Adam Bamberg, Courtesy Whim W’Him, by Joe Toreno, by Rosalie O'Conner, by James Whitehill/The New York Times

 

How-To

Introducing and teaching rhythm can seem easy, but in reality it can prove to be a complicated concept—especially for younger dancers to grasp. At Ballet Hispánico's School of Dance in New York City, Los Explorers for 3- to 5-year-olds uses classic salsa and tango music to help kids acquire rhythmic awareness.

Here Rebecca Tsivkin, early childhood programs associate, and Kiri Avelar, associate school director, offer exercises to help youngsters feel the beat.

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Dance Buzz
Panelists (left to right): Emily Nusbaum, Eric Kupers, Judith Smith, Deborah Karp and Suzanna Curtis. Photo by Aiano Nakagawa, courtesy of Luna Dance Institute

This past Saturday, I visited Luna Dance Institute in Berkeley, California, to attend the Dance & Disability Discourse & Panel—a discussion with five artists, educators and researchers about access and equity for disabled students in dance education. Here are three statements from the discussion that I found eye-opening.

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How-To
Todd Rosenlieb, left, of The Governor's School for the Arts. Photo by Victor Frailing, courtesy of Todd Rosenlieb

You're setting choreography on your class and most of the students are picking it up. One dancer, though, is having difficulty remembering the steps. You review the material several times, but you fear that this is starting to hold back your more advanced students. Still, you're worried the struggling dancer will be left behind. What is the best way to proceed?

Memorizing choreography is an essential skill for dancers. Fast learners have more time to work on the technique and artistry within a combination, and they are often the first to catch the eyes of directors. Like most skills, learning pace can be improved. Encouraging students to develop their own memorization methods will help them approach choreography with confidence.

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Dancer Health
Neuromuscular expert Deborah Vogel with Jordan Lazan, right. Photo by Jim Lafferty

By strengthening the intrinsic muscles of the foot and ankle, a dancer can help prevent or correct existing pronation. Having strong intrinsic foot muscles keeps the arches aligned, preventing them from dropping inward.

Here, Vogel shares three strengthening exercises to help correct and prevent pronation. She advises dancers to include these in their cross-training regimen.

Mobilize your ankles. (Step 1)

For this ankle mobilization exercise, having a TheraBand wrapped around your ankles puts pressure on your feet to pronate. By resisting that action and keeping your feet centered through the relevé, you're essentially training the ankle where center is.

  • Sitting up straight in a chair, with your feet planted on the floor a few inches apart, tie a TheraBand in a loop around your ankles. You can place a yoga block vertically in between your knees to maintain space between your legs.

Next Page
How-To
Photo courtesy of New York Live Arts

Ellen Robbins' modern dance classes for kids and teens are legendary in New York City. Robbins, who has been teaching kids how to dance since the 1970s (and whose pupils included the actresses Claire Danes and Julia Stiles), takes the standard recital model and turns it on its head. Her students—ranging in age from 8 to 18—are the choreographers for the annual concert she produces at esteemed NYC venue New York Live Arts.

If that approach sounds borderline insane to you (we know you're all deep in the throes of recital season right now), consider Robbins' unique teaching philosophy: Improvisation is present in every aspect of class, for every age group. Here are four ways she shapes her youngest dancers into choreographers—almost without their realizing it!

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Teachers & Role Models
Former students of Kelley gather around a cardboard cutout made in his honor at the recent tribute. Photo courtesy of Merritt

Every dancer has a teacher who makes an impression. The kind of impression that makes you want to become a dancer or a teacher in the first place. For Mara Merritt, owner of Merritt Dance Center in Schenectady, NY, and countless others, that teacher was Charles Kelley.

Known as "Chuck" to most, Kelley was born December 4, 1936. He was a master teacher in tap, jazz and acrobatics, who wrote syllabuses for national dance conventions like Dance Masters of America. Growing up in upstate New York, Merritt's parents, both dance teachers, took her into Manhattan every Friday to study with Kelley. First at the old Ed Sullivan Theater and the New York Center of Dance in Times Square, then years later at Broadway Dance Center.

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