Finis: Ang-Yi Sheu – Studio 5 At City Center

by Christopher Duggan

Studio 5 at New York City Center is a dance event built around in-studio performances that really gives the audience an intimate look at the dances performed. Hosted and curated by Damian Woetzel, former dancer with New York City Ballet and current Director of the Vail International Dance Festival, the performances give his unique perspective on dance. His connections to the world’s most amazing talent makes the series a hidden gem in New York.

I photographed a performance in February by Fang-Yi Sheu, formerly of the Martha Graham Dance Company, and just as she was in Vail last summer, she was fantastic.


Contributor Christopher Duggan is a wedding and dance photographer in New York City, the Berkshires and beyond. Duggan has been the Festival Photographer for Jacob’s Pillow Dance since 2006. In this capacity, and as a respected New York-based dance photographer, he has worked with renowned choreographers and performers of international acclaim as well as upstarts in the city’s diverse performance scene.
Christopher Duggan, Photo by Julia Newman

Christopher Duggan, Photo by Julia Newman

He photographs dancers in the studio and in performance, for promotional materials, portraits and press, and he often collaborates with his wife, Nel Shelby, and her Manhattan-based dance film and video editing company Nel Shelby Productions ( Together, they have documented dance at performances from New York City to Vail International Dance Festival.

Christopher Duggan Photography also covers the finest wedding venues in the Metropolitan and Tri-State areas, in Massachusetts and the Berkshires, and frequently travels to destination weddings.

His photographs appear in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Knot, Destination I Do, Photo District News, Boston Globe, Financial Times, Dance Magazine, and Munaluchi Bridal, among other esteemed publications and popular dance and wedding blogs. One of his images of Bruce Springsteen was added to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and his dance photography has been exhibited at The National Museum of Dance and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.

His Natural Light Studio ( at Jacob’s Pillow is his most ambitious photography project to date – check out his blog to see more portraits of dance artists in his pop-up photo studio on the Pillow grounds.


Snacks For Dancers: Popcorn – With A Twist!

by Catherine L. Tully

If you’re the type that likes to curl up on the couch and snack away the hours while watching movies, you probably already know that the calories can really stack up. Resting on your days off is good, but mindless snacking in front of the tube can be a dangerous thing.

The next time you decide to go on a movie binge, choose popcorn as your snack–but make it air-popped and watch what you add to it. With a little bit of advance planning you can minimize the impact to your diet and your waistline.

DCF 1.0Air popped popcorn is a great choice as long as you don’t pile on the butter or salt. The best news of all is that popcorn is actually considered a whole grain, and when air popped, has only 31 calories per cup. It also makes a great on the go snack–simply toss it in a baggie and pack it in your dance bag.


Here are a few more facts* about this snack food that may help you become a fan:

  • 3 cups of popcorn = 1 serving from the grain group
  • Air popped popcorn doesn’t contain additives or preservatives
  • Popcorn contains fiber which aids in digestion

Investing in an air popper is not a big expense. You can usually find one for around $20 – I found this via Google search at Target. Do your homework on it though, I haven’t used this one myself.

Those used to eating microwave popcorn may not take to the air popped variety too well at first. After all, there is not a lot of flavor in comparison. Still, there are a number of ways to add taste to it without dumping a lot of calories on top.

Here are some of my favorite choices:

- Use a little bit of spray butter and toss to coat. (I do this sparingly since I’m not entirely on board with the whole spray butter thing. And I opt for the ones that are made with olive oil.) Or, simply opt for olive oil, but go easy as it is fairly high-calorie.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

- Add some herbs to the mix such as oregano, basil, marjoram and red pepper flakes.

- Sprinkle black or white pepper over the top for a little bit of bite.

- Try a little taco seasoning on top for plenty of taste. (This does add salt though, so use sparingly.)

- Mix up some sugar and cinnamon for a sweet kick. This will add a few calories, but it can be worth it!

Here are a few more recipes you might want to try:

Do you have a healthy favorite topping for popcorn? We’d love to hear from you!

*Info taken from




Dance And The Grading Process

Intern Tess Losada

4dancers Intern Tess Losada

by Tess Losada

I got my first ever C in high school chemistry. My world of unfailingly perfect grades that I had always achieved with little to no effort came crashing down around me.

Though surviving that C helped me realize that a grade couldn’t actually stop my heart, I felt that same panic in my first college dance technique class. As my professor explained the grading scale, complete with skills tests throughout the semester, I wondered if I would be able to fulfill her expectations and get the A.

One of my favorite aspects of the dance field is how incredibly intelligent dancers are. Most dancers are also rather “type A”; willing to do anything to solve the problem and anxious to find the “right” answer. For individuals who are so driven to do things correctly, being graded on the very subjective facets of dance can be incredibly stressful. It can also be difficult to accept the emotional differences between dancing for fun and the new academic requirements placed on your dancing.

This semester, as I prepare to graduate with my degree in Dance Performance, I feel that I can look back on my undergraduate academic career and understand the grading process with a new mindset. I would like to offer future dance majors some ideas of the things I believe that myself and my classmates wish we had known four years ago.

Read more


Book Review: Ballerina – by Edward Stewart

ballerina bookby Emily Kate Long

Reading Ballerina by Edward Stewart is like snacking on too many Girl Scout Cookies. There’s something sentimental about them, and it’s so hard to just have one. Chapter after juicy (and sometimes eye-roll-inducing) chapter, I couldn’t put this novel down.

Ballerina was originally published in 1979. The latest edition comes in e-book format from Open Road Publications. At 500 pages, it’s a quick read with plenty of theatrics. A few of the forty-nine chapters seem like separate episodes in the often scattered plot, and as a whole the book has the slightly dated feel of a yellowing Polaroid photo. If you’re looking for a good soap-opera-type travel read, though, this definitely fits the bill.

The plot follows dancers Stephanie Lang and Christine Avery from their audition for the country’s top ballet school at age sixteen into their early twenties as they navigate promising careers, romance, and friendship. Steph’s overbearing mother Anna and the manipulative artistic director Marius Volmar are in turns detestable and pitiable as secondary characters, twisting and prodding Steph and Chris for personal gain.

The world Stewart creates is one of catty backstabbing and sleeping around—think Dancers, The Turning Point, or Center Stage. Despite the book’s shortcomings, the intrigue of the insider-outsider dance world makes Ballerina a readable jaunt for dancers and non-dancers alike. I rate it three stars out of five for exciting drama but lack of depth, and PG-13 for some strong language and few graphic scenes—it’s not a novel for the Girl Scout-age set.


Emily Schoen – Performance Highlights At Gibney Dance Center

by Nel Shelby

Emily Schoen is a real up-and-coming star in the dance world. A dancer with Keigwin + Company, Emily was named Top 25 to Watch by Dance Magazine. She’s danced in a couple operas at the Met (with Mark Morris and Doug Varone) and even performed in the Rolling Stones 50 and Counting Tour last year. She received Gibney Dance’s bookoo grant to create and present work in Gibney Dance Center, and she was just selected as one of five emerging choreographers nationwide to create work for Met Dance in Houston, TX next summer.

She just so happens to also be Nel Shelby Productions’ awesome Project Manager for all our dance films and video editing services. We met and bonded when I was filming Nejla Y. Yatkin’s Central American tour and Emily was dancing with Nejla. It clicked that Emily could really help me with organizing my business and communicating with my growing clientele, and we’ve worked together ever since.

We just had the pleasure of filming her choreography at Gibney Dance and I thought it would be great to get her thoughts on working with us from the other side of things!


Contributor Nel Shelby, Founder and Principal of Nel Shelby Productions, is deeply dedicated to the preservation and promotion of dance through documentation of live performances, fully edited marketing reels, live-stream capture, and documentaries and films that encapsulate the essence of nonprofit organizations.

Nel Shelby, Photo by Matthew Murphy

Nel Shelby, Photo by Matthew Murphy

Her New York City-based video production company has grown to encompass a diverse list of dance clients including American Ballet Theater II, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, Gallim Dance, Gotham Arts, Kate Weare and Company, Keigwin + Company, Monica Bill Barnes Company, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Shen Wei Dance Arts, Wendy Whelan and many more. She has filmed performances at venues throughout the greater New York area including The Joyce Theater, New York Live Arts, Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, St. Mark’s Church and Judson Church, to name a few.

For nearly a decade, Nel has served as Festival Videographer for the internationally celebrated Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in the Berkshires. Each season at the Pillow, Nel’s responsibilities include documenting aspects of festival culture in addition to its 20 mainstage dance performances, filming and overseeing documentation of more than 100 free performances and events, managing two dance videography interns and an apprentice, and educating students about the technical and philosophical aspects of filming dance.

She also serves as Resident Videographer at the Vail International Dance Festival where she spent her first summer creating five short dance documentary films about the festival in addition to documenting its events and performances. Her longer-form, half-hour documentary on Vail’s festival, The Altitude of Dance, debuted on Rocky Mountain PBS in May 2013.
She has created four short films for Wendy Whelan’s Restless Creature, and she collaborated with Adam Barruch Dance to create a short film titled “Folie a Deux,” which was selected and screened at the Dance on Camera Festival in New York City and the San Francisco Dance Film Festival. She is making a dance documentary featuring Nejla Y. Yatkin, called Where Women Don’t Dance.

Nel has a long personal history with movement  – she has a B.A. in dance and is a certified Pilates instructor. She continues to train with world-renowned Master Teachers Romana Krysnowska and Sari Pace, original students of Joseph Pilates. In addition to her dance degree, Nel holds a B.S. in broadcast video. She often collaborates with her wonderful husband, dance photographer (and fellow 4dancers contributor) Christopher Duggan on creative projects with dancers in New York City and beyond. They live with their beautiful daughter Gracie and son Jack in Manhattan.

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