Catherine Hurlin has long limbs, sky-high extensions and super-archy feet, complemented by a keen sense of line and port de bras. When given a correction, she works on it intently. Ballet is her element.
She’s only 13, but Catherine’s resumé is already impressive. Most notably, this tiny dancer (she’s only 4'7"!) was one of two Claras in the Nutcracker portion of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in 2007 and 2008 (performing in more than 100 shows each season!). She also had a small role in American Ballet Theatre’s Le Corsaire at the Metropolitan Opera House in May 2008.
A native of Westchester County, NY, Catherine started dancing at age 3 at the Scarsdale Ballet Studio before transferring to Westchester Dance Academy. She found success on the competition circuit, taking home awards like New York City Dance Alliance’s 2008 National Junior Outstanding Dancer. At Youth America Grand Prix, Catherine received the Hope Award, the highest honor given in the pre-competitive age division. Through YAGP she also received a career-changing opportunity: a scholarship to study full-time at ABT’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School during the 2008–2009 school year.
At JKO, Catherine takes ballet and pointe classes five afternoons a week. “It’s been more challenging than the classes I used to take,” she says, “but I think being challenged is good!”
Catherine’s talent is unmistakable. “Since Catherine has been [with us],” says Franco De Vita, principal of the JKO School and one of Catherine’s teachers, “it has been a pleasure to have not only an exceptionally talented young dancer in the school but, most importantly, a humble young lady who is a team player. Those qualities are indispensable for a dancer’s survival, success and happiness as a member of a ballet company.”
What’s next for Catherine? She’ll be performing in Mozartiana with ABT this May, and she hopes to keep training at the JKO School—and to eventually join ABT! Though she doesn’t plan to do the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in 2009 (she wants to have an uninterrupted eighth-grade year), Catherine does hope more opportunities of that type lie in her future. But her goals also go beyond the stage: “I want to be a dance teacher,” she explains. “I would love to go back to Westchester and teach there because I know the studio’s style.”
In the meantime, she intends to enjoy her training and take in everything she can. “People have different ways to express themselves,” she says. “Ballet is a good way to express who I am.”
Photo: Rosalie O'Connor
Much of Janelle Ginestra's career has been about helping others shine. She's dedicated herself to supporting and cheerleading her partner, WilldaBeast Adams; the emerging talents in their dance company, ImmaBEAST; and the countless dancers she inspires at master classes and conventions. Her YouTube channel has become a launching pad for young talents like "Fraternal Twins" Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala, thanks to viral videos featuring Ginestra's creative vision.
But Ginestra's a skyrocketing success in her own right—an in-demand choreographer, a social media influencer, and a dance entrepreneur, building a legacy one eight-count at a time. It's time for her turn in the spotlight. And she's more than ready. "I want to be a legend in whatever I do," she says. We'd argue that she already is.
If you've ever seen a Janelle Ginestra class video, you know how lit her combos are. What you don't see in those clips is how devoted Ginestra is to her students. We went behind the scenes at one of her sold-out IMMA SPACE classes to see Ginestra in her element, mentoring some of L.A.'s most talented dancers. It was an inspiration feedback loop.
All photos by Joe Toreno.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
I love ballet, and I've been told that I have a lot of potential. I can see myself dancing professionally one day. But I'm also working toward my black belt in karate—and I'm passionate about that, too. How can I keep up my technique while also making time for the other things I love? Is that even possible?
What do you get when you combine a Beyoncé anthem, fierce girls from all over the world, and choreography by legends like Ellenore Scott and Lamar Lee? You get the epic music video below. The viral video features little girls who live everywhere from Tanzania to Washington D.C. dancing and lip-syncing to Queen Bey's song "Freedom," and the result is electrifying. These littles can dance—and they bring a determination and enthusiasm to their movement that's truly inspiring.