All of 18-year-old Kaylin Maggard's dreams—from scoring the title of National Senior Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals to winning the 2017 Dance Spirit Cover Model Search—are coming true. And to anyone who knows the gorgeous contemporary dancer, that's no surprise.

From the moment the Dance Spirit staff met Kaylin, it was obvious her humility and talent would take her far. Not only did she go full-out during the photo shoot and class at Broadway Dance Center, but she was always cheering on, laughing with, and supporting her fellow CMS contestants Haley Hartsfield and Michelle Quiner. During the voting period, the social media world was abuzz with praise for her work ethic, positive attitude, and generosity.

Since her CMS trip to NYC, Kaylin's moved from her hometown of Columbia, MO, to the Big Apple for her freshman year at Juilliard, and is busy getting acquainted with the city. As for the future? She's taking it one opportunity at a time, but something tells us we'll be seeing this contemporary queen reach new heights every year.


What have you been up to since your trip to NYC?

The past few months have been full of fun, but there've also been a lot of good-byes. I wrapped up my final season with my competition studio, Columbia Performing Arts Centre, in May—I'd been dancing there since age 3. I also attended my senior prom and graduated from high school! Once summer began, I started teaching at my studio and jumped back into ballet classes, and hung out with friends and family in my free time. I was humbled to win first place for my senior solo at NYCDA Nationals
with a piece choreographed by one of my mentors, Ida Saki, and I was honored to be named a member of DancerPalooza's Beat Squad. And I just started at Juilliard, which is super-exciting!

(Photo by Erin Baiano)

High School graduation: check (courtesy Maggard)

What was your favorite part of the Cover Model Search experience?

The entire Dance Spirit staff, Michelle, and Haley were all amazing—I loved making those new friends! We bonded quickly and had so much fun together at the photo shoot, we loved seeing CATS, and we really enjoyed taking class together at Broadway Dance Center.

(Photo by Erin Baiano)

What about college makes you most excited—and most nervous?

I'm excited to dance with my peers and upperclassmen, and learn from the world-renowned Juilliard faculty. I'm already very close with a bunch of people in my class (the dance world's pretty small!), and they're all so funny and incredibly talented. I'm most nervous about leaving my family and friends. Growing up in a small college town is very different from navigating NYC.

Posing with the Senior Female Outstanding Dancer finalists at NYCDA (courtesy Maggard)

Are you excited to be an NYC girl?

My first stint in NYC was the summer of 2011, when I attended American Ballet Theatre's summer intensive. I love all of
the action in the city, as well as all the opportunities. I'm excited to meet new people, experience new restaurants, do lots of shopping, and, of course, go to tons of incredible performances. However, I'm afraid of pigeons, and there are a lot in NYC. That makes me nervous.

A NYC outing with her mom (courtesy Maggard)

What was your voting campaign like?

It was a lot of fun! I spread the word through Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I'm so thankful for my many friends from summer intensives and tons of regional conventions who took the time to vote.

Do you have any advice for future CMS finalists?

Enjoy every part of the CMS experience and be yourself! Being a finalist is such an honor, and while the voting process was fun, making new friends was the best part. I walked away from this opportunity so thankful to have spent time with the
Dance Spirit staff, Haley, and Michelle!

With Nina Bartell at NYCDA (courtesy Maggard)

A version of this story appeared in the October 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Walkin On Sunshine."

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