Meet Sophia Lucia!
Sophia wows audiences with her solid technique and stellar showmanship. Isn't she adorable? Photo by David Hoffman.
At just 10 years old, Sophia Lucia has made quite the name for herself in the dance community. If you know her simply as one of Abby Lee Miller’s “replacements” on “Dance Moms,” you’re missing out! Winner of countless titles and star of viral YouTube videos—she holds a record of 54 pirouettes in tap shoes!—this tiny turner takes her training seriously. We caught up with this rising superstar, who studies primarily with Kristen Hibbs at San Diego Dance Center, to find out some little-known facts about her impressive career. And yes, she’s just as sweet and adorable in real life as she is on TV!
Dance Spirit: What was working with Abby Lee really like?
Sophia Lucia: She’s really sweet! When I went to do my movie, she bought me a whole new outfit to wear to the set! And when the replacements came, she paid for all of us to get our nails done.
DS: Did you get along with the girls on the show?
SL: The ALDC girls are super sweet—I wish I could dance with them every day. We'd have moments where we'd blank out and start laughing. Everyone was so excited to learn the group dance, and everyone was so friendly.
DS: What has been your best dance moment?
SL: Dancing in MDA’s (Muscular Dystrophy Association) telethon with a little girl in a wheelchair.
DS: Who is your favorite teacher or choreographer to work with?
SL: Every teacher is great because they’re always friendly and very nice. But, if I had to pick, I'd choose Mark Meismer (choreographer of my 'Turn to Stone' solo), Tiffani King (choreographer of my 'Pulse' solo) and Rachel Sebastian, who I train with every day for technique and ballet.
DS: What are your best turning tips?
SL: Always find your spot and pull your stomach in—tightening it up! That always helps me if I’m falling off my balance. And I strengthen my core every day.
DS: Your YouTube videos have thousands of views! How do you think they got so popular?
SL: "One day, my mom and I just started to post videos, and they blew up. When my 40 turns video came out on my tap teacher’s YouTube channel, it just went bonkers!” (Sophia’s “40 turns” video now has 872,000 views!)
One night, my dad was watching "Tosh.0" and woke me up in the middle of the night yelling, "Sophie! You’re on Tosh.0! Come see!" and I was on for my 40 turns. He [Daniel Tosh] called me a bad word, but I didn’t care, because I was on TV!
DS: What do you do to calm your nerves before a performance?
SL: My best friend, Cela Dadian, is always with me at competitions, and she’s the funniest person. I’m always so nervous, but she makes me laugh and get over the nerves. If she’s not there, I usually just shake it out and say a little prayer.
DS: Do you have any upcoming projects we can look out for?
SL: I have my own clothing line coming out for California Kisses, and they’re sponsoring me, along with Kids Artistic Revue, to break the world record for pirouettes. I’ll officially be in the Guinness Book of World Records this April!
Sophia performing at NUVO. Courtesy Jaclyn Lucia.
Must-see TV shows: Disney channel shows, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians"—"When my parents let me watch!"
Dream choreographers to work with: Travis Wall, Nick Lazzarini and Stacey Tookey
Dance idol and role model: Hayden Hopkins and Travis Wall. "I hope that one day my legs go as high as Hayden's! And Travis is just an amazing person to be around.”
Dream dance role: "To dance and act on TV—like on Disney’s 'Shake It Up!' But long-term, I'd like to go to Juilliard and be on Broadway!"
Dance BFFS: Cela Dadian, Audrey Olaes, Kylie Yamane and Autumn Miller
Three words to describe you: “sassy, funny, cute” ("According to my mom!")
Something most people don’t know about you: "I was born missing one rib on each side!"
Harper Watters is a ballet dancer for today's generation. A social media maestro and a charismatic performer, the Houston Ballet soloist is equally at home in front of the camera hosting his hit YouTube series, "The Pre Show"; interacting with fans on his crazy-popular Instagram account; or showing off his beautiful classical technique onstage. It's a multifaceted identity that's proven to be invaluable to his career—and it's taking him to places he never even dreamed of.
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.
When we think of a dancer who's broken barriers, American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland tends to be the name that comes to mind. And though Copeland has been a crucial advocate for equality in the world of ballet, Raven Wilkinson—a mentor of Copeland's—is considered one of the original pioneers of the movement.
In 1955, Wilkinson became the first African American to dance with the renowned Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Her fortitude in the face of bigotry and hate cemented her legacy. Now, with the release of the new children's book Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, a new generation of dancers will be inspired by her tale of overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream.
The book details Wilkinson's life, from her experience as a young dancer training in Harlem, to her run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan while on tour with Ballet Russe, to her later ballet career in Europe. "There were times where my heart really hurt because of the situations I had to deal with," she says. "But I always had faith that I was made to be a dancer and that I was gonna dance."
Dance Spirit spoke with Wilkinson to discuss the new book and get her take on racial equality within the ballet world.
Postmodern pioneer Trisha Brown redefined how dance is seen and felt. A founding member of Judson Dance Theater, Brown frequently collaborated with other experimental artists like Yvonne Rainer, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, and Steve Paxton.
She embraced pedestrian movement, pairing everyday gesture with rhythm and fluidity. "It's liquid," says Wendy Perron, who danced with Brown in the '60s and '70s. "Like a river with many tributaries, water coming out of a faucet, or being on a raft and seeing the water move away in different directions." Brown also pushed beyond stages with choreography in fields, museums—even on the sides of buildings.
There's a common misconception that a dancer's body has to be thin. But the truth is that talent knows no body type, and the number on the scale never determines an artist's capabilities. Here are some extraordinary dancers fighting the stereotype of what a dancer "should" look like.
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.