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Photo courtesy TUPAC

When legendary Black ballet dancer Kabby Mitchell III died unexpectedly in 2017, two months before opening his Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center, his friend and business partner Klair Ethridge wasn't sure she had what it took to carry his legacy. Ethridge had been working with Mitchell to co-found TUPAC and planned to serve as its executive director, but she had never envisioned being the face of the school.

Now, Ethridge is heading into her fourth year of leading TUPAC, which she has grown from a fledgling program in an unheated building to a serious ballet school in its own sprung-floor studios, reaching hundreds of students across the Tacoma, Washington, area. The nonprofit has become a case study for what it looks like to carry out the vision of a founder who never had the chance to see his school open—and to take an unapologetically mission-driven approach.

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Just for fun
Lauren Post unwinds by sewing pointe shoes in the tub. Photo via Instagram/@laurencpost

Let's face it. Dancers just do things differently. We can never walk down a grocery aisle—we have to tap. We can never simply pick something up we've dropped—without going into a penché. But it's not a bad thing. We love all the ways that dance bleeds into our daily lives.

Turns out the pros aren't ever really off-duty either. Here's how we caught them dancing through their downtime.

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Just for fun
Lauren Post unwinds by sewing pointe shoes in the tub. Photo via Instagram/@laurencpost

Let's face it. Dancers just do things differently. We can never walk down a grocery aisle—we have to tap. We can never simply pick something up we've dropped—without going into a penché. But it's not a bad thing. We love all the ways that dance bleeds into our daily lives.

Turns out the pros aren't ever really off-duty either. Here's how we caught them dancing through their downtime.

Keep reading... Show less
Peter Boal coaching PNB dancers in Opus 19/The Dreamer. Photo by Lindsay Thomas, courtesy of PNB

In a windowless subterranean studio under the New York State Theater, I pulled back an imaginary arrow and let it fly.

"Good!" said ballet master Tommy Abbott. "I think you're ready. Tomorrow you rehearse with Mr. Robbins."

I was slated to play Cupid in Jerome Robbins' compilation of fairy tales called Mother Goose. It was a role given to the tiniest boy who could follow directions at the School of American Ballet. In 1976, that was me.

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News
The Houston Ballet company. Photo courtesy of HB

These four ballet companies refreshed their productions of the beloved holiday classic.

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Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Ingrid Vordermark got to partner with principals from Pacific Northwest Ballet for a day. Now she's 21, and her illness has been in remission for two years. Photo by Ashley DeLatour, courtesy of Vordermark

Last year, dance teacher Elaine Mannix of Commonwealth Dance Academy in Walpole, Massachusetts, learned a 10-year-old student had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The dancer had just added hip hop and lyrical to her class schedule and would sometimes dance three hours a day, building toward participating in more competitions as she approached middle school. The news was frightening to Mannix and the dancer's parents, but thanks to technology and communication, the dancer has been excelling in her classes and learning—along with Mannix—to monitor and manage her disease.

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Pacific Northwest Ballet's Leta Biasucci dancing in a rainforest. Photo by Lindsay Thomas, courtesy of Pacific Northwest Ballet

To create a multimedia piece that premiered at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in 2014, choreographer Andrew Bartee filmed Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers performing in vastly different surroundings, all within Olympic National Park. While dancing in a rainforest, on a snow-covered mountaintop and along a pebbly beach—all during the making of one project—may seem extreme, dancers don't have to travel far to encounter the challenges of unfamiliar settings.

Whether on pavement, under blinding sunlight, on a chilly outdoor stage or at high elevation, students need your help to meet environmental challenges with confidence. Dancers and choreographers who have performed in atypical settings shared their best tips with Dance Teacher.

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Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Ingrid Vordermark got to partner with principals from Pacific Northwest Ballet for a day. Now she's 21, and her illness has been in remission for two years. Photo by Ashley DeLatour, courtesy of Jennifer Leone Vordermark

It's important to keep a student with a chronic health condition safe and happy in class. One step you can take is to understand that there isn't a one-size-fits-all plan for dealing with chronic illness.

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