It’s January, and that means one thing here at Dance Magazine: It’s “25 to Watch” time. Back in January 2001, we started the tradition of highlighting 25 up-and-coming dancers, choreographers, companies and trends who, in our humble opinion, were on the brink of making major waves. This was my first year being in the room where it happens, and poring over the hundreds (yes, hundreds) of worthy nominees inspired me to look back at our previous “25 to Watch” lists—and I have to say, we’ve got a pretty great track record. So to celebrate the ringing in of a new generation of 25 to Watchers, here are 25 dancers and choreographers who proved us right.
2001 In the inaugural edition, we called out recently-promoted American Ballet Theatre soloist Marcelo Gomes, now a seasoned principal and 2015 Dance Magazine Award recipient; high-flying NYCB stars Ashley Bouder and Daniel Ulbricht (then still an SAB student!); and a pre-Royal Ballet/Chroma Wayne McGregor.
2002 Speaking of seasoned ABT principals: Gillian Murphy got a nod from Gus Solomons jr, who described her as “fearless, flawless, and versatile.” On the other end of the spectrum was kathak/contemporary master Akram Khan, then gaining momentum to become the internationally lauded star he is today.
2003 There were a lot of phenomenal artists on this year’s list, but you only need to hear one name to understand their collective caliber: Misty Copeland. The barrier-breaking ballerina who now needs no introduction was then a new member of ABT’s corps. Georgina Parkinson prophetically told us, “She’s going to flourish here.”
2004 The year we put Stella Abrera on the cover, a full decade before she received her long-deserved promotion to principal dancer at ABT. Also on the list: tap wizard Jason Samuels Smith, and the first American to become a principal at the Bolshoi Ballet, David Hallberg.
2005 We pointed out the wondrously leggy Teresa Reichlen as a rising star at New York City Ballet, and that view was validated pretty quickly: Peter Martins promoted her to soloist that very month.
2006 Also known as: The year of the future cover stars. We had beloved former–Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Carla Körbes (cover: February 2010); ABT’s luminous Hee Seo (cover: May 2013); NYCB’s dreamy leading man Amar Ramasar (cover: February 2016); and fierce and fabulous Boston Ballet principal Misa Kuranaga (cover: November 2016).
2007 Natalia Osipova? Enough said.
2008 Ivan Vasiliev? Likewise.
2009 Just saying: We knew Kyle Abraham was a genius three years before the MacArthur Foundation made it official.
Alex Wong wowed us during his fast-tracked career at Miami City Ballet, where he had recently been promoted to principal soloist when he landed on our list. Little did we know he would take the daring leap from classical to commercial that summer, stealing the hearts of “So You Think You Can Dance” fans before going on to have a phenomenal freelance career.
2011 He was still a principal dancer at Pacific Northwest Ballet when he founded Whim W’Him, but we knew that Olivier Wevers was onto something. (If you want proof, we recently followed him through a tech day for an episode of “Behind the Curtain.”) Across the pond, Melissa Hamilton was making a serious impression on London audiences with The Royal Ballet, particularly as something of a muse to Wayne McGregor.
2012 When Taylor Stanley was promoted to principal dancer before a New York City Ballet performance in May, the only surprising thing about the decision was the timing. He was a year away from a soloist promotion when we featured him, but he’d already turned heads dancing the lead in Balanchine’s Square Dance.
2013 Creative collaborators/offstage couple Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener were standouts as individual dancers in the Merce Cunningham Company, but once they started choreographing with and on each other in 2010 they reached a new level of cool. And that wasn’t the last we’ve seen of the duo: Between what seems like non-stop work on their various creative projects they found time to appear as the cover stars of our “Renegades” issue in 2015.
2014 Another former Cunningham dancer, Melissa Toogood, already had an impressive resume of freelance work to her name in 2014: Pam Tanowitz, Rosie Herrera, Stephen Petronio, Kyle Abraham, Rashaun Mitchell…Yes, this is what really “making it” as a freelance contemporary dancer in NYC looks like.
2015 We loved Stuart Singer so much that when, the following year, we dedicated our March issue to freelance stars of NYC, we had to put him on the cover. The former Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company member and Bessie winner simply shows up (and does amazing things) everywhere.
2016 It was impossible to pick just one. (And besides, we’ve already hit 25.)