A New Breed

 I distinctly remember having a lively intermission conversation at a Youth America Grand Prix gala performance several years ago. We had just had our minds blown by a tiny dancer who performed with a technical ability far beyond his years. And he wasn’t the only one. Several child prodigies debuted that night in an astonishing display of flexibility, musicality and precision. The question several of us in the audience shared was, “Where do these dancers go from here?” When a child reaches the pinnacle of his/her ability before hitting puberty, what is left to aspire to?

Since that night, we’ve watched a generation of prodigies graduate from pre-professional training and land coveted company positions. In “Nurturing the Gift,” writer Caitlin Sims talks with their teachers about what it took to prepare these most gifted students for professional life.

Nick DeMoura (on the cover) is a prodigy of a different breed. A street dancer who hit Hollywood at an early age, he’s made a name for himself in the competitive pop music industry. In “On Top of the World,” he tells Alison Feller what it’s like to choreograph for stars like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande. And we love the images photographer Jino Abad took of DeMoura doing his thing in the studio. It’s clear to us that DeMoura is a big-picture thinker. Though he was extremely busy with preparation for the Ariana Grande tour, he arrived at our photo shoot with a complete vision of how he wanted to present himself—head to toe.

That’s the kind of mindset one needs for keeping goals and priorities in the forefront, while also balancing the many aspects of a busy life. Meditation is a proven tool that can help, and in “Finding Your Om,” we give you some quick tips on how to get started.

One of my favorite stories in this issue is “From “‘Ho Hum’ to ‘Aha’” about some surprising changes that worked out well for three studio owners. Maybe it’s time for you to consider a bold move. If you do, please write and tell me about it. khildebrand@dancemedia.com.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Teachers Trending
Evelyn Cisneros-Legate. Photo by Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West

Evelyn Cisneros-Legate is bringing her hard-earned expertise to Ballet West. The former San Francisco Ballet star is taking over all four campuses of The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy as the school's new director.

Cisneros-Legate, whose mother put her in ballet classes in an attempt to help her overcome her shyness, trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and School of American Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet as a full company member in 1977. She danced with the company for 23 years, breaking barriers as the first Mexican American to become a principal dancer in the U.S., and has graced the cover of Dance Magazine no fewer than three times.

As an educator, Cisneros-Legate has served as ballet coordinator at San Francisco Ballet, principal of Boston Ballet School's North Shore Studio and artistic director of after-school programming at the National Dance Institute (NDI). Dance Teacher spoke with her about her new position, her plans for the academy and leading in the time of COVID-19.

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The author with Maurice Hines. Photo by Anthony R. Phillips, courtesy Hopkins

In March, prior to sheltering in place due to the coronavirus outbreak, my husband and I traveled from New York City to Miami to screen our award-winning documentary, Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back, at the Miami Film Festival.

Our star, Tony Award–nominated dancer and choreographer Maurice Hines joined us in Miami for the festival—stepping and repeating on the opening night red carpet, sharing anecdotes from his illustrious seven-decade career with local tap students, and holding court at a cocktail mixer with lively female fans.

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Haruko Photography, courtesy ABT

Gabe Stone Shayer may be American Ballet Theatre's newest soloist, but he never dreamed he'd be dancing with the company at all. Though he grew up in Philadelphia, his sights were always set on international ventures—especially The Bolshoi Ballet and The Royal Ballet.

Even in his early training, he was learning from Russian educators: Alexander Boitsov at Gwendolyn Bye Dance Center, and Alexei and Natalia Cherov, from the Koresh School of Dance. At age 13, he transferred to The Rock School for Dance Education, where he danced until his acceptance to The Bolshoi Ballet Academy at age 14. At 16, Shayer returned to spend his summer in the States and attended ABT's summer intensive—fully intent on going back to Bolshoi to continue his training in the fall. Four weeks in, he was offered a studio-company contract. "I was so surprised," Shayer says. "Having come of age in Russia, I was very Eurocentric. Of course ABT was on my radar, I just never imagined it was for me."

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