Simrin Player has danced for Shakira, Miley Cyrus, Willow Smith and Justin Bieber. She’s performed on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “The Oprah Show” and at the Nickelodeon “Kids’ Choice Awards.” She’s even danced at the White House. Oh yeah, and she’s 12.
This pint-sized powerhouse began dancing when she was 3. Soon after, her family moved from Salt Lake City, UT, to Phoenix, AZ, where she expanded her training. Today, Simrin—Simi to friends—attends the Arizona School for the Arts, where she takes a full academic course load along with ballet, piano and choir. She spends most evenings in dance classes at various Phoenix-area studios, studying everything from pointe to contemporary to hip hop, though breakdancing is her favorite style. “I love the way you get to express yourself,” she says. “And I love the music—the music is the best for dancing.”
Simrin landed her first professional job when an assistant to hip-hop choreographer Hi-Hat spotted her at an NYC breakdancing competition. Hi-Hat invited the then-8-year-old to L.A. to audition for a spot dancing with Missy Elliot at the 2007 VH1 “Hip Hop Honors.” When she found out that she had booked the job, Simrin did what any young girl would do: she screamed. “I was so excited,” she says.
Since then, Simrin’s career has taken off. She frequently travels to L.A. for auditions, and although she’s often the youngest dancer at a call, she doesn’t get nervous. “I keep myself calm and focused by stretching,” she says. (She was nervous, however, when she performed at the White House Easter Egg Roll and met President Barack Obama. “When I shook his hand, I was shaking,” she says.)
In addition to performing with big-name pop stars, Simrin spent a season on the Nick Jr. musical sitcom “The Fresh Beat Band” and appeared in Step Up 3D. She’s also a familiar face on the competition scene. She was named Junior BreakOut Artist at the 2010 NUVO Nationals, and was a PULSE Protégé. But the pinnacle so far has been a month-long tour through the UK performing with Justin Bieber and Willow Smith.
So what’s left for Simrin, who’s already built an enviable resumé? “I want to become a better dancer, actor and singer,” she says. “I want to inspire people.”
Birthday: September 20, 1998 (She turns 13 this month!)
Favorite food: “I love Italian food.”
Favorite movies: Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. “When I was at the ‘Kids’ Choice Awards,’ I was so focused on Snoop Dogg, I didn’t even notice Jim Carrey was there!”
Most played on her iPod: Mary J. Blige
Have we mentioned lately how much we love dance dads? Especially ones who show up to their daughter's ballet class sporting a tutu, like Thanh Tran.
You've seen it a million times: A glamorous, toned dancer posts a perfectly styled shot of her colorful smoothie bowl. The caption gushes about how great you'll feel if you eat "clean"—but what does that actually mean? DS asked registered dietitian/nutritionist Rachel Fine and holistic health coach (and founder of The Whole Dancer) Jess Spinner for all of the dirt.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org a chance to be featured!
I'm being bullied by one of the girls at my studio, and it's awful. I've talked to my dance teacher and confronted the bully directly, but it hasn't made a difference. What should I do?
Bunheads, this one's for you. They say you can tell a Nutcracker by its "Snow" scene—and we fully believe it. There are so many versions with extra goodies—olive branches! Fake snow! Sleds! Choirs! Snow queens!—and each brings a special something to the holiday favorite. But do you know which ballet has what?
Consistent turns are a must for aspiring professional dancers, but pretty much everyone struggles with pirouettes at some point. Luckily, since we're all beholden to the same rules of physics, there are concrete steps every dancer can take to reach his or her top turning potential. “Three is the new two when it comes to pirouettes, but the secret to turning is technique, not magic," says Bojan Spassoff, president and director of The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia.
Falling out of your doubles? Aspiring to go revolution for revolution with your class's star turner? No matter where you lie on the turning spectrum, our 360-degree guide to pirouettes will help you improve.
You rehearse your group routine to perfection, but when the big performance rolls around, everyone turns into speed demons. It's the runaway-train effect—and it only takes one loud tapper, or zippy turner, to throw the whole group off the music.
While nerves and excitement are partly to blame, the ability to keep to tempo begins in the studio. A well-developed sense of musicality is your best defense against the dreaded speed trap. "When you understand how the steps fit with the music, going too fast won't just feel like rushing," says Jeremy Arnold, lecturer of tap at the University of Texas at Austin. "It'll feel wrong." How can dancers develop that musicality? It all starts with learning to listen.
You're probably already following your favorite dancers on Instagram, but did you know that you can follow many of their dogs, too? We rounded up some of our favorite dog-centered accounts and hashtags to keep you pawsitively entertained (sorry, we can't help ourselves).
Let's face it—spare time is pretty tough to come by when you're a dancer. You're either rushing to get ready for rehearsal, rushing to rehearsal, a combo of the two, or in rehearsal (or performing, or in class, or at an audition...you get the picture). Well here at DS, we understand the struggle is REAL, which is why we've rounded up our favorite foolproof makeup hacks, approved by resident #LazyGirl when it comes to makeup (spoiler alert: it's me). On to the hacks!
Kalea (pronounced kah-LAY-uh) Hidalgo knows how to move. Her decisive, dynamic dancing commands the stage: She gobbles up space so confidently it's hard to believe you're watching a mere tween. Unsurprisingly, that presence and power have started turning heads in a serious way. Not only did Talia Favia choreograph one of her solos in 2017, but Kalea also recently signed with Bloc Talent Agency in L.A. and, last summer, placed first overall in the junior contemporary solo category at Radix Nationals.
"When you're out on the dance floor, don't ask for permission—ask for forgiveness."—Kalea Hidalgo
Taylor Swift is #blessed in many ways: She's got a great voice, insane song writing skills, and, to quote her new hit single, she's "Gorgeous." She is not, however, blessed in the dance department. But that doesn't stop her from busting out the occasional dance move. In fact, Swift likes to playfully show off her less-than-stellar dancing, be it in her music videos (hello, "Shake It Off") or at music award shows. So we weren't surprised when during the latest episode of her "Making of a Song" series for AT&T, she unveiled a new endearingly awkward maneuver, which she's dubbed the "dolphin body roll"—and it practically had friend and producer Jack Antonoff rolling on the floor!🤣