Jayci performing her solo at The 2011 Dance Awards in NYC. (courtesy The Dance Awards)
At just 14 years old, Jayci Kalb is already living the competition dancer’s dream: She’s performed solos choreographed by convention kings Travis Wall and Nick Lazzarini, she regularly walks away from Nationals with a top title and she spends her weekends touring as a demonstrator with JUMP, where she gets to train alongside Stacey Tookey, Katy Spreadbury and Teddy Forance. But Jayci isn’t just a comp kid—she also has a handful of professional jobs under her tiny belt.
It’s no surprise Jayci is excelling. She has enviably archy feet, a wildly bendy back and an onstage maturity that makes it hard to believe she’s a teenager. So how has this humble dancer risen to competition superstardom? “I just love it a lot, and I work really hard,” she says.
Jayci’s mother was a dancer, so enrolling 2-year-old Jayci in classes at The Dance Centre in her hometown of Tuscaloosa, AL, was an easy decision. Jayci took a short-lived dance break when she was 5 to try her hand at gymnastics—and even won a state-level competition. She reenrolled in dance at 6. Now she trains in ballet, jazz, hip hop and acro, and says contemporary is her favorite style. “But ballet is the most important part of my training, so I love it,” she adds.
At 12, Jayci won her first National title: Junior Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance. “It was overwhelming,” she says. “There were so many good dancers, and I was nervous. But I learned to go out there and have a good time.” Not long after, she started winning titles at JUMP and performed as Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Most recently, she won Best Junior Dancer at The Dance Awards for her contemporary solo Life of a Flower, choreographed by Wall.
It doesn’t hurt that Jayci has a huge fan in Wall: He hired her to perform in his company Shaping Sound’s (DS May/June 2012) show last December. “In the show, I did my solo in front of all the professional dancers, actors and agents in the audience. I was so nervous,” she says. Afterwards, she was approached by an agency representative, and now she’s signed with Clear Talent Group.
What’s next for Jayci? “I want to become a better dancer, taking in all the corrections from these amazing teachers,” she says. She’ll compete at The Dance Awards this summer as a teen, and she’s looking toward the future: “I want to be on Broadway and on the cover of Dance Spirit!”
Favorite food: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Most-played song on her iPod:
“A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri
Who would play her in a movie? Selena Gomez. “She’s not a dancer, but she’s a good actress and she’s really pretty!”
If she could be a superhero, what would her power be? Super strength. “I would use it in our competition dances. When we have to lift girls, it’s hard for me because I’m so small.”
Dance crush: Nick Lazzarini
Favorite book: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Favorite TV show: “Wizards of Waverly Place”
Favorite dancer of all time: Travis Wall
Favorite teacher: Stacey Tookey
Three words that describe her dancing: “Heart, soul, love”
the first thing she does in the morning: Eats a bagel and bacon.
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.
We always love a good halftime performance. And we LIVE for halftime performances involving talented kids. (Fingers and toes crossed that Justin Timberlake follows Missy Elliott's lead and invites some fabulous littles to share his Super Bowl stage.)
So obviously, our hearts completely melted for 5-year-old Tavaris Jones. Tavaris may have just started kindergarten, but during Monday night's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, the Detroit native danced with the panache of a veteran pro at halftime.
The coolest place she's ever performed:
I'd have to say the Super Bowl. The field was so cool, and Katy Perry was right there. And there were so many eyes—definitely the most eyes I've ever performed for!
Something she's constantly working on:
My feet. I'm flat-footed, so I'm always hearing, 'Point your toes!' And I'm like, 'I am!'
My hair! That, and a pair of leggings with a T-shirt or tank top.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email email@example.com for a chance to be featured!
For a long time, I was the strongest dancer at my studio. But this year there's a new girl in my class who's very talented, and my teacher's attention has definitely shifted to her. I'm trying not to feel jealous or discouraged, but it seems like my whole dance world has changed. Help!
In the dance world, Mandy Moore has long been a go-to name, but in 2017, the success of her choreography for La La Land made the rest of the world stop and take notice. After whirlwind seasons as choreographer and producer on both "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance," she capped off the year with two Emmy Award nominations—and her first win. Dance Magazine caught up with her to find out how she's balancing all of her dance projects.
Marzia Memoli may be the Martha Graham Dance Company's newest dancer, but her classical lines and easy grace are already turning heads. Originally from Palermo, Italy, Memoli started studying at age 16 at the Academy of Teatro Carcano in Milan. Later, she attended the Rudra Béjart School in Lausanne, Switzerland, before heading to NYC in 2016 to join MGDC. This month, she'll perform The Rite of Spring in the Martha Graham Studio Series in NYC, and tour with the company in Florida. Read on for the dirt.