Photo of dancer Amanda Krische

Choreographer Loni Landon is no stranger to the enticing power of social media. Instagram, for example, makes it very easy for Landon to connect with other artists. "I feel torn about it," says Landon. "On one hand, I think it can be used in a really positive way. I have received so many jobs through connecting with people on social media. But I do think sometimes people are on it for the wrong reasons and it becomes a popularity contest."

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Last night’s Dance Magazine Awards honored five remarkable artists: flamenco dancer Soledad Barrio, National Ballet of Canada artistic director Karen Kain, American Ballet Theatre principal Marcelo Gomes, dance archivist David Vaughan and Urban Bush Women artistic director Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. Held at The Ailey Citigroup Theater, the awards ceremony consisted of heartfelt speeches by presenters and awardees, memorable dance performances and a whole lot of love. Here are a few highlights from the event.

Karen Kain receives her Dance Magazine Award from Mikhail Baryshnikov.

One word: Baryshnikov. You know you’ve made it when the legendary Mikhail Baryshnikov presents you with a Dance Magazine Award. Karen Kain had that lucky honor last night, and it was well-deserved. When accepting her award, Kain thanked “Misha” for inspiring her.

Soledad Barrio danced with spirit and intensity.

Soledad Barrio gave new meaning to the word passion as she danced Solea, a fiery solo performed to the accompaniment of a guitarist and two singers. With her quicksilver footwork, snake-like arms and laser focus, she completely owned the stage.

The affection between Marcelo Gomes and Juliet Kent was palpable.

When accepting his award, Marcelo Gomes humbly stated, “Thank you for my beautiful partners that I've danced with in my life. I am nothing without them, nothing onstage without my beautiful ballerinas,” to which, Julie Kent, his longtime partner, close friend and presenter of his award chimed in with, “That’s not true,” to the delight of the audience. Gomes was near tears as he graciously thanked his family, friends and dance partners over the years.

At 91 years old, David Vaughan looked back fondly on his career as the Merce Cunningham Dance Company's archivist.

“'Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, you are a badass!'” Zollar concluded, after her inspirational acceptance speech. After 30 years of running Urban Bush Women, she was able to look back and cherish both the high points and the low, comparing them to a heart monitor. It’s when things aren’t static that you know you’re alive.

After dancing Walking With 'Trane: Side B, Freed(om), Urban Bush Woman clapped for their leader of 30 years.

Since 1954, the Dance Magazine Awards have honored choreographers, educators, performers, writers and organizations whose contributions to the field of dance have made a lasting impact. Past awardees include: Susan Jaffe (DT, August 2010), Gelsey Kirkland (DT, November 2014) and Jenifer Ringer (DT, July 2015).

Check out the highlight reel!

Photos by: Christopher Duggan

Don’t miss a single issue of Dance Teacher.

Dance Magazine’s second episode of "Behind the Curtain" follows fan favorite Daniil Simkin for a day. The American Ballet Theatre principal takes viewers inside a rehearsal for INTENSIO, a program of four new dances by Alexander Ekman, Gregory Dolbashian, Jorma Elo and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. Simkin is dancing in and co-producing the performance, which premieres July 22 at Jacob’s Pillow.

In the video, the cast—which features ABT dancers, as well as Céline Cassone of Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal—is rehearsing Ochoa’s piece, including a duet between Simkin and Cassandra Trenary. They only have the choreographer for an hour, a shorter session than usual. But they’ve been hugely productive, nonetheless. Simkin says they’ve set 50 minutes of choreography during their first week of rehearsals.

Even though Simkin is a principal at one of the world’s top companies, he still dedicates his performances to his parents and considers their approval more important than anyone else’s. This makes sense, since his mother gave him his formal ballet training when he was growing up and introduced him to the world of dance competitions. The episode ends with Simkin leaving to meet his parents at his Brooklyn apartment.

Watch the complete "Behind the Curtain" episode playlist here.

Melissa Toogood (left) in rehearsal with Pam Tanowitz's dancers

When we watch our favorite dancers onstage, it’s hard not to wonder what their lives are like outside the theater. And the bigger the fan you are, the more details you want: Where do they eat, take class, live, work and generally exist when they’re not performing? Who are their friends and loved ones? What does their streetwear look like? I guess it’s pretty nosy of us, but all I can say is I’m glad Dance Magazine knows their audience. In their new web series, “Behind the Curtain,” they deliver all those everyday life details and more.

In each episode, DM follows an established dancer during a day in his or her life. Plus, they’ve captured some gorgeous original footage in classes and rehearsals. Besides being a tantalizing peak at an artist’s personal life, it’s a reminder of the dedication (and long days) it takes to maintain a professional career.

The debut episode follows former Cunningham dancer Melissa Toogood during a full day as a freelancer in NYC. The first thing I notice is that she and her husband wear adorable matching hats when they leave their Brooklyn apartment. She hits up morning Pilates, then takes a Cunningham class at City Center before leading rehearsal for Pam Tanowitz, who she works for as rehearsal director. Toogood regularly teaches Cunningham classes, too, but admits she loves coaching most of all. “I like teaching technique, but I prefer addressing the interpretation of movement,” she says. “I want to help them figure out the best way to do the movement in their bodies.”

Toogood is featured in a story and photo essay in the June issue of DM. We can’t wait to see who will be spotlighted next!

Watch Toogood’s “Behind the Curtain” episode here.

Photo by Jim Laffery for Dance Magazine

In an exclusive interview with Dance Magazine editor at large Wendy Perron, Michelle Dorrance discussed her current work, The Blues Project, displaying the disarmingly humble demeanor we’ve come to expect and love from the tapper.

She is honored and thrilled, she says, to have Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards and Derick K. Grant co-choreographing The Blues Project with her. It’s a unique experience dancing to the blues, she explains, because she is moved more by the vocals and guitar than the percussion and rhythm sections.

When Perron asks what instrument Dorrance would play if she wasn’t busy making music with her feet, she says she “fake plays” harmonica—she’s played it on her tap tours to Europe—and has mastered no more than “three chords and the truth” on guitar and ukulele—to play the blues (and other) melodies she was obsessed with as a child, she says.

When the subject of sexy women tappers like Chloé Arnold’s Syncopated Ladies comes up, Dorrance says she would probably perform best as comic relief in one of their sets, noting it takes a ton of technical skill to be sexy while dancing. Give her six months, she adds, and she might be able to do it.

The Blues Project will have a weeklong run at Jacob’s Pillow this summer. Watch the full interview with Perron here:

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