These Three Dance-Heavy Commercials Are Slaying It

Commercials have been killing it lately. (And no, I’m not talking about that United Healthcare one where the guy pole vaults into the pool—although that one is pretty funny.) I’m talking about the ones featuring dancers. Coming on the heels of Wells Fargo-gate (that’s not a real title, but it should be), dance commercials like these are welcome reminders that dancers are smart, savvy, talented people that others would like to emulate.

Old Navy just decided to go hog wild and use a bevy of dancers to sell their movable denim. See here, here and here for some dance-denim fun, but this one’s my favorite:

This Gap commercial for ballet flats features none other than this year’s Capezio ACE Award winner Martha Nichols. It should come as no surprise that she has serious moves—you’ll see flashes of ballet, tap and her own fresh-funky style.

OK, but this one is my favorite, hands-down. What happens when you combine director Spike Jonze, choreographer Ryan Heffington (my love for you SHALL NE'ER WAVER, Ryan!) and actress/dancer Margaret Qualley? The best perfume ad I’ve ever seen. (When she shoots the lasers! She’s everything I want to be in a fancy dress and a breathtakingly beautiful venue.) And here’s a fun bit of trivia: Qualley was trained by Dale Lam, one of our 2015 Dance Teacher awardees.

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Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

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Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

Christy Funsch's teaching career has taken her from New York City to the Bay Area to Portugal, with a stint in a punk band in between. But this fall—fresh off a Fulbright in Portugal at the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, School of Dance (ESD), teaching and researching empathetic embodiment through somatic dance training—Funsch's teaching has taken her to an entirely new location: Zoom. A visiting professor at Slippery Rock University for the 2020–21 academic year, Funsch is adapting her eclectic, boundary-pushing approach to her virtual classes.

Originally from central New York State, Funsch spent 20 years performing in the Bay Area, where she also started her own company, Funsch Dance Experience. "My choreographic work from that time is in the dance-theater experiential, fantasy realm of performance," she says. "I also started blending genres and a lot of urban styles found their way into my choreography."

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Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

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