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

Unity Phelan

City.ballet.” is back! And the Season 2 premiere is plenty tantalizing. They promised us more up-close input from dancers, and we’ve already got two very interesting characters to follow.

We meet two corps members, starting with 19-year-old Unity Phelan, who is beginning her first season with New York City Ballet. I really don’t think anyone could manage a more bright-eyed and eager demeanor. All she wants to do is dance—as much as she possibly can. When she faces a long day of classes and rehearsals, she doesn’t think about how grueling it’s going to be. “When pliés start, I’m like OK let’s do this. I am so excited for this day!” Right now, she is grateful for every moment, because she has achieved what she thought was her biggest dream: being in New York City Ballet. But that honeymoon can’t last forever.

Harrison Ball

Enter Harrison Ball, only two years older than Phelan but starting his third year in the corps. His worries already outweigh his enthusiasm. Is he being taken as seriously as he wants to be? He’d prefer soloist parts to the character roles he’s gotten so far. Does he really present himself in the best light? He battles typical 21-year-old habits like constantly running late and going out most nights, while at the same time trying to be a dedicated professional. All he can think about is when and if he’ll be promoted.

The most telling moment in the episode is when both dancers describe how they spend their evenings when they aren’t performing. Phelan sits in the audience. “I go and watch the ballet, because even being there is special.” Ball paces outside on the Lincoln Center Promenade, pondering his career path.

The premiere is the tiniest bit redundant in that, once again, it focuses on the corps de ballet, which we were already introduced to last season. But Sarah Jessica Parker’s narration is noticeably absent—minus an opening line—which helps it feel less like a Ballet 101 lecture and more like a docu-drama.

Click here to watch the full eight-minute episode plus bonus clips.

This episode also features Ball's cat, who doesn't seem worried about much of anything.

One of our favorite web series is almost back! On Tuesday, November 4, AOL Originals’ “city.ballet.” returns with 12 new episodes about life in the one and only New York City Ballet. After last season, which covered broad topics like what it means to be in the corps and how it feels to get a contract for the first time, this go-round promises more specificity. Some of the episodes will center on individual dancers—Sara Mearns and Chase Finlay and even director Peter Martins—and follow them through their daily routines. It should give students a valuable glimpse at real, day-to-day life as a professional performer in a top-notch company. Plus, it sounds like we’re in for a little romantic drama, too, which never hurts. Check out the season promo video here:

Want to see what it's like to climb the ranks of major NYC dance companies? "Dance212" is bringing viewers the inside scoop with an encore presentation of its Second Companies season. Follow five young dancers as they train and perform with their dream companies: ABT II, Ailey II, Graham II, Taylor 2 and the American Tap Dance Foundation.

New three-minute episodes come out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, so once you've checked in with DT, head on over to for a daily dose of dance inspiration.

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