Simone in Yearning (photo courtesy Hall of Fame Dance Challenge)
Simone Cameresi’s solo, Yearning, begins with only spoken word as the soundtrack. At Hall of Fame Dance Challenge Nationals last summer, she created music with her body instead—hitting accents where there were none and seamlessly moving from one phrase to the next, unfazed by the lack of clear tempo. By the time the lilting melody kicked in, the then-14-year-old beauty had already transfixed the audience. With her calm control, extensions to die for and riveting stage presence, it was clear Simone had the facility and dedication to make it big.
The daughter of a former Navy man, Simone was born in Italy but came to the U.S. with her family at age 2. She started ballet classes at 4 at a small Arizona studio, and at 6 moved to California, where she expanded her horizons, taking jazz, tap, lyrical and hip-hop classes at Murrieta Dance Project. It wasn’t long before she was ready to compete. “I was just 7, and it was a little scary,” she says of her first competition. “But having all my friends with me made it fun.” She was hooked, and has been dominating the competition scene ever since. “I like having that time onstage to show the audience what I’ve been working so hard on,” she says.
And work hard she does. Now at Mather Dance Company in Placentia, CA, the 15-year-old supplements her training with ballet classes at Dmitri Kulev Classical Ballet Academy and Southland Ballet Academy. She attends countless competitions and conventions, and she’s been awarded full-tour scholarships to NUVO, JUMP and West Coast Dance Explosion for the past two years. But the ninth-grader is surprisingly well-rounded, balancing dance and school—“People may not realize it, but I’m a big nerd”—while still making time to hang out with friends. How does she do it? “I’ve learned to manage my busy schedule. I have a plan, and I stick to it,” she says.
Simone’s careful planning is already paying off. In the past year, she auditioned for and signed with Clear Talent Group and was chosen as one of 16 semifinalists for The Music Center’s Spotlight Awards, an annual scholarship for high schoolers. She’s also been accepted to the Joffrey Ballet School’s Year Round Trainee Program and is planning to attend as many conventions as possible this summer. What’s her plan for the future? Simple: “To keep dancing.”
Most-played song on her iPod: “The A Team” by Ed Sheeran
Favorite dancer of all time: Desmond Richardson
Favorite choreographer: Travis Wall
Favorite food: Seafood. “I love sushi.”
Favorite subject in school: English
Favorite book: “I have a lot. But right now, one of my favorites is The Hunger Games.”
Favorite movie: The Notebook
Must-see TV show: “Bunheads”
Three words that describe her dancing: “Graceful, emotional, technical”
There are dancers and then there are DANCERS! Whitney Jensen, soloist at Norwegian National Ballet, is the latter. The former Boston Ballet principal can do it all. From contemporary to the classics this prima has the technical talent most bunheads dream about. Need proof? Look no further.
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's dance inducing hit, "Despacito," is so catchy it should probably come with a disclaimer that warns people of an uncontrollable itch to tap your feet or bob your head. Some might even feel inclined to go all out and break it down. Niana Guerrero is a prime example of "Despacito's" uncanny ability to unleash the red dressed emoji dancer within. 💃🏽 💃🏽
Guys, we all knew this was coming—"World of Dance" was eventually going to eliminate someone. But man, is it brutal to watch these talented dancers give their all, only to be sent home. It's the name of the game, though, and after last night's episode, only two dancers per division remain. (At least Misty Copeland guest-judging was a silver lining!) Here's what went down last night:
They've impressed the judges, now it's time for the Top 100 dancers to enroll at The Academy—and to impress the All-Stars. Welcome to So You Think You Can Dance Academy!
The 100 dancers who made it through auditions in NYC or L.A. are now at The Academy, which is basically a beautiful building with floor-to-ceiling windows. The show opens with that Mandy Moore-choreographed Academy routine which, even after watching it 12 times and trying to learn all the choreography at home, is still delightful.
This Nationals season, Dance Spirit followed four talented dancers from The Dance Awards, NYCDA, Showstopper, and Starpower for an inside look at everything that goes into the biggest competitions of the year. First up: Isabella Torres from Mid-Atlantic Center for the Performing Arts in Baltimore, MD, who competed at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals for the first time this year. (All photos courtesy Shannon Torres.)
Merritt Moore is a ballerina who just so happens to be graduating from Oxford University with a PhD in quantum physics. Is she even human? The jury is still out on that - but the 29-year-old, who earned her undergrad degree from Harvard, has actually found dance to be a powerful tool that assists her in her studies.
Happy #WorldEmojiDay, dance friends! 🎉 👯 🎉 👯
Because it's just the cutest, we thought we'd share the emoji challenge the Royal Opera House is currently hosting on Twitter. They've retold a series of ballets (and operas, for that crowd) in emoji form. If you correctly guess the name of a ballet, you'll be entered for a chance to win two tickets to a ROH production.