Dancer to Dancer

Kayla Mak

Kayla performing her solo “Arabian Waltz” at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals

Offstage, 9-year-old Kayla Mak is like any other 4th-grader. She’s a happy kid who likes math and watching TV. (Her favorite show is “So You Think You Can Dance,” of course.) But get her onstage and you’ll see a whole different Kayla—a girl who’s anything but ordinary.

At the New York City Dance Alliance Foundation’s fall show, Bright Lights Shining Stars, in NYC, Kayla performed in a large group number with her studio, Westchester Dance Academy. Though the senior dancers kicked off the ballet routine, it wasn’t until Kayla bourréed out from the wings that the crowd went wild. Kayla was the smallest dancer out there, but it wasn’t just her size and extra-large smile that commanded attention—she wowed the audience because she more than kept up with girls twice her age. Kayla nailed her pirouettes with ease and showed off massive leaps, crazy flexibility and stunning penchées.

Kayla has trained at WDA in Mount Kisco, NY, since she started dancing at age 4. “My mom was a dancer, and she said, ‘You’re dancing all over this house, let’s get you into a studio,’ ” Kayla says. Soon, she was enrolled in her first ballet class. “I love using ballet to express my feelings,” she says. Kayla also studies lyrical and jazz, and started competing when she was 5. In addition to solos—her “Arabian Waltz” contemporary ballet solo earned her the National Mini Female Outstanding Dancer title at NYCDA and the Young Dancer of the Year title at American Dance Awards this past summer—Kayla performs in group routines, which she says are “fun because I get picked up a lot, but it’s a little scary dancing with the older girls.” If she’s intimidated, it doesn’t show: Kayla performs with the utmost confidence. This year her training will go beyond WDA as she tours with NYCDA, assisting and taking classes.

What’s next for Kayla? “I want to be a professional dancer,” she says. “Any kind of dancer.” A simple answer from an exceptional young girl.

FAST FACTS

Most-played on her iPod: “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen

Favorite food: “My mom’s spaghetti with meatballs”

If she were a superhero, her superpower would be: Flying. “I’d get to see the world. The first place I’d go is Japan. My cousins live there.”

Favorite movie: Step Up Revolution. “One of my teachers from JUMP was in it—Misha Gabriel!”

Three words that describe her: “Smart, flexible, kind”

Angela Sterling, courtesy PNB

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Photo by Joe Toreno

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!


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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!

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