With its massive ups (live shows back in theaters!) and massive downs (COVID-19 cases and supply-chain issues canceling far too many of those shows), 2021 has truly been a year like no other. Throughout it all, Dance Magazine has worked to cover the trends, the changes and the inspirations that have kept us going. Here are the eight stories you loved the most this year.
The Dancing That Made Gymnast Nia Dennis Famous
UCLA gymnast Nia Dennis was popping up all over social media in January with a floor routine that incorporated stepping and iconic social-dance moves like the Soulja Boy and the woah. Editor in chief Jennifer Stahl interviewed both Dennis and the team’s choreographer, BJ Das, about how it came together. Later in the year we looked into what was behind the overall trend of college gymnasts going viral because of their dance moves.
Our 2021 “25 to Watch”
Our annual “25 to Watch” feature, highlighting up-and-comers we believe are on the verge of breakthrough, is always a favorite, and this year was no different. After publishing the list on January 1, we spent the year watching these artists make waves throughout the field.
The Dancer Who Holds a Surprising Guinness World Record
One of our more unexpected breakout hits of 2021 was a profile of a dancer with an unexpected story: Sarah Louis-Jean took home a Guinness World Record for the most boleadoras taps made in one minute (385, if you’re curious). Our intern at the time, Breanna Mitchell (who’s now, for obvious reasons, on our roster of regular writers), wrote about how the Black Canadian woman became a master in the Argentine folk dance that’s traditionally performed by men.
A Look at What Makes a TikTok Dance Challenge Catch On
At the start of 2021, TikTok was already a major destination for dance, and it’s only grown over the course of the year. Writer Siobhan Burke looked into the unparalleled appeal of the platform, and why dance is such a natural fit for it.
Boston Dynamics’ Robot Choreographer
Who’s behind those viral music videos of robots dancing? Writer Sydney Skybetter did some investigating to track down the choreographer of Boston Dynamics’ then-latest film, “Do You Love Me?”: Monica Thomas. She shared with us the inside scoop on a creative process like no other.
The History of the Temple Dancers Who Inspired La Bayadère
Few ballet lovers these days would be surprised to hear that Petipa took, ahem, certain liberties with the cultures that inspired his famous ballets. But journalist Sarah McKenna Barry’s deep dive into the real lives of the actual women whom Nikiya is supposed to represent will make you see La Bayadère in a whole new way.
Edward Watson’s Cover Story
Just before Edward Watson retired from The Royal Ballet this fall, Laura Cappelle took a look at how he carved out a new space in ballet for male dancers who don’t fit the traditional “prince” mold.
“30 Over 30”
During a year in which time seemed to both stand still and fly by all at once, Dance Magazine decided to push back against the narrative that only the young can have dance careers. Putting our spin on the traditional power list, we choose “30 Over 30,” highlighting people who prove success can happen at any age.