Watch These Mannequin Challenge Videos for an Immediate Uptick in Happiness

If you’re in need of a break from scrolling through your election-filled social-media news feeds (and I mean, who isn’t?), maybe it’s time to take a look at the best mannequin challenge videos so far.

If you’re not familiar with this challenge, don’t stress. It’s incredibly—nay, somewhat unbelievably—simple to understand. You just get someone to film you pretending to be frozen. Like…a mannequin. (Side note: This reminds me of a favorite game my two sisters and I used to play in department stores when we were bored. We’d crawl behind the glass separating the clothing store’s mannequins from the merchandise and freeze like them. We were apparently very ahead of our time. Our parents did not particularly care for this game, because when they went to collect us from our frozen positions, we continued to stay immobile and stiff. Our dad would have to carry us out of the store sideways, still in our poses. Sorry, parents.)

The ladies of Destiny’s Child set the bar pretty high, but then, they already had practice, right? I’m talking about the music video for “Say My Name,” of course. Here’s their 2016 update:

But then we have this Atlanta, Georgia–based pole-dancing studio. Words don’t really do this video justice, so just watch:

“Dancing with the Stars” got in on the act, too. The best part? When they let their freeze-frame go and just enjoy the chance to groove.

#MannequinChallenge #dwts 👌🏼

A video posted by Laurie Hernandez (@lauriehernandez_) on

But no one is as good as Brigham Young University’s gymnastics team. No. One. #micdrop

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Music
Mary Malleney, courtesy Osato

In most classes, dancers are encouraged to count the music, and dance with it—emphasizing accents and letting the rhythm of a song guide them.

But Marissa Osato likes to give her students an unexpected challenge: to resist hitting the beats.

In her contemporary class at EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles (which is now closed, until they find a new space), she would often play heavy trap music. She'd encourage her students to find the contrast by moving in slow, fluid, circular patterns, daring them to explore the unobvious interpretation of the steady rhythms.

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For Parents

Darrell Grand Moultrie teaches at a past Jacob's Pillow summer intensive. Photo Christopher Duggan, courtesy Jacob's Pillow

In the past 10 months, we've grown accustomed to helping our dancers navigate virtual school, classes and performances. And while brighter, more in-person days may be around the corner—or at least on the horizon—parents may be facing yet another hurdle to help our dancers through: virtual summer-intensive auditions.

In 2020, we learned that there are some unique advantages of virtual summer programs: the lack of travel (and therefore the reduced cost) and the increased access to classes led by top artists and teachers among them. And while summer 2021 may end up looking more familiar with in-person intensives, audition season will likely remain remote and over Zoom.

Of course, summer 2021 may not be back to in-person, and that uncertainty can be a hard pill to swallow. Here, Kate Linsley, a mom and academy principal of Nashville Ballet, as well as "J.R." Glover, The Dan & Carole Burack Director of The School at Jacob's Pillow, share their advice for this complicated process.

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Teachers Trending

From left: Anthony Crickmay, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem Archives; Courtesy Ballethnic

It is the urgency of going in a week or two before opening night that Lydia Abarca Mitchell loves most about coaching. But in her role as Ballethnic Dance Company's rehearsal director, she's not just getting the troupe ready for the stage. Abarca Mitchell—no relation to Arthur Mitchell—was Mitchell's first prima ballerina when he founded Dance Theatre of Harlem with Karel Shook; through her coaching, Abarca Mitchell works to pass her mentor's legacy to the next generation.

"She has the same sensibility" as Arthur Mitchell, says Ballethnic co-artistic director Nena Gilreath. "She's very direct, all about the mission and the excellence, but very caring."

Ballethnic is based in East Point, a suburban city bordering Atlanta. In a metropolitan area with a history of racism and where funding is hard-won, it is crucial for the Black-led ballet company to present polished, professional productions. "Ms. Lydia" provides the "hard last eye" before the curtain opens in front of an audience.

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