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
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.