Why Justin Bieber Maybe Isn’t Quite So Awful


Emma Portner in Justin Bieber's video for "Life Is Worth Living"

If you’ve had Internet access over the past few days, odds are that you’ve been binge-watching or, at the very least, compulsively updating Justin Bieber’s VEVO account. That’s because he pulled a Beyoncé and just released dance videos for each of his newest album’s 13 tracks. The whole shebang is called Purpose: The Movement, and the choreography and dancing is surprisingly legit.

Well, maybe it’s not that surprising—when the Biebs released the video for his new single “Sorry” (off the same album) three weeks ago, we were all treated to the fantastic dance moves of the ReQuest and Royal Family crews and the poppy, perfect, pelvic-led choreography of 24-year-old choreographer Parris Goebel.

There are a lot of really great movers in each of these videos, but we wanted to highlight Emma Portner dancing a duet in “Life Is Worth Living.” Portner was the 2014 second runner up at the ACE Awards. Looks like she’s been busy in the best way!

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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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