Dancers of New York Gives an Unfiltered Look at Artists’ Lives

Sophie Lee Morris, a Dancers of New York subject, at the Astoria Ditmars Blvd stop on the N,Q line

When Sofie Eriksson first moved from Sweden to New York City to study at Broadway Dance Center, she lived in a hostel, where she shared a three-bedroom apartment with 13 other people. Broadway performer Kim Faure says she moved six or seven times during her first year in Manhattan before getting her first role, in Anything Goes. Tales of wild living situations are just a small part of what performers share on the new photo blog Dancers of New York (DONY).

Following the formula of the popular blog Humans of New York (HONY), photographer James Jin posts pictures of and interviews with dancers on social media and on DONY’s website. He uses subway stations as backdrops, because, according to the site’s About section, the train is metropolitan dancers’ primary mode of transit to classes, auditions and gigs. There are shots of dancers on pointe outside of elevators, posing on railings and doing layouts on underground platforms. Like HONY, the most engaging parts of the DONY Facebook page are the interviews and, as the blog grows in popularity, followers’ replies.

Jin talks to each dancer he photographs about where they grew up and trained, how they got to New York and what they’re doing now. For pre-professionals considering a move to New York City, this can be valuable information. And the interviews delve deeper. Dancers reflect on sad memories of rejection and share their feelings of insecurities about body type, as well as offering advice for fellow artists. Readers respond with commiseration, encouragement and compliments: “Nice kick!” For dancers going through the inevitable ups and downs of their training and careers, DONY, if it continues in the footsteps of HONY, could be a supportive social-media community of artists. With plans to show one dancer at every subway station (468 total ) on the NYC map, DONY is on track to tell enough stories to strike a chord with every dancer.

Photo by James Jin, Dancers of New York

Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

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Dancer Diary
Claire, McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

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Music
Mary Mallaney/USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, courtesy Osato

In most classes, dancers are encouraged to count the music, and dance with it—emphasizing accents and letting the rhythm of a song guide them.

But Marissa Osato likes to give her students an unexpected challenge: to resist hitting the beats.

In her contemporary class at EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles (which is now closed, until they find a new space), she would often play heavy trap music. She'd encourage her students to find the contrast by moving in slow, fluid, circular patterns, daring them to explore the unobvious interpretation of the steady rhythms.

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