Michael Higgins

Take 5 with Red Bull–Sponsored Dancer and Choreographer Inyoung “Dassy” Lee

Nothing about Inyoung "Dassy" Lee's career has been conventional. Growing up in South Korea, she began dancing by copying the movements she saw Korean singers doing on TV, and only started formal training in her teens. Yet by 2017, Lee's distinctive popping style was leading to work in competitions and music videos. She then became the first South Korean dancer featured on "So You Think You Can Dance," earning a spot in the Top 8 on Season 14—it was a full-circle moment to perform on the very show that had inspired her to move to the U.S.

Lee leans away from a graffitteed pole

Lee is also part of L.A. dance trio Femme Fatale.

Michael Higgins

Lee smiles directly at the camera, squaring on a platform overlooking the beach

Michael Higgins

On battling: "When I got into street dance at 15, I fell in love with freestyling. Dancing to music you don't know forces you to set your mind free."

Dassy Lee looks under her arm balancing on a curved structure against a blue sky

Michael Higgins

On breaking barriers: "I happened to be the first South Korean on 'SYTYCD' and a woman in the male-dominated street-dance scene. If there is no path to follow, create one."

Dassy Lee leans back on a graffiti-covered wall outs

Michael Higgins

On her artwork: "I started drawing at 3 because I wanted to do everything my older sister was doing. Eventually, I started playing around with oil paint. I always had a talent in drawing and painting, whereas dance only came with hard work."

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Robert Battle's Mass. Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy Ailey

Robert Battle at Full Throttle

When you’re enjoying the easygoing, joke-telling manner of Robert Battle as the welcoming emcee of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, you might not realize there is a ferocious choreographer underneath all that charm. To celebrate his 10 years as artistic director, at New York City Center on Tuesday night the company presented seven works Battle’s created over the last 22 years. Each one held bold surprises—even for those of us familiar with his work.

At the Dance Magazine Awards the previous night, Judith Jamison, in presenting the award to Battle, said, “I love watching Robert’s bravery.” I think she meant both his bravery as a choreographer and as an artistic director. As the latter, he has expanded the Ailey repertory with so many interesting choices—Aszure Barton, Wayne McGregor, Johan Inger and Kyle Abraham—that we tend to forget about Battle himself as a choreographer.

July 2021