Dancer to Dancer

We're thrilled for our Cover Model Search winner Kaylin Maggard—but we also love our two runners-up, Haley Hartsfield and Michelle Quiner! We talked to Michelle about how life has changed since her NYC visit for the contest.

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Madi Hicks (by Nathan Sayers)

Onstage, Madi Hicks is a live wire, crackling and sparking with energy. But there’s more to this 17-year-old’s dancing than electricity. Her contemporary solos are rooted in a solid technical base, so they’re polished as well as high-wattage. And as you watch Madi dance, you can almost see her sharp mind at work, as busy as her long limbs.

Madi’s just as smart offstage, too. Now a rising senior at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, she’s a comp kid who’s shaped the course of her training thoughtfully, moving from studio to studio as her needs changed. “A lot of people think ‘studio hoppers’ are bad—they assume they’re not loyal students,” Madi says. “But once I feel my limit at a dance studio, once I feel like I’ve soaked up all the training I can, I know it’s time for me to move on. Studying at different studios has made me who I am as a dancer, because I’ve taken different things from each place.”

Since starting dance at age 2 1/2—“I was always dancing around the house and breaking things, so my mom said, ‘Hmm, maybe we should put you in a class’ ”—Madi has trained at studios including Dallas Power House of Dance in Dallas, TX, and Academy of Dance Arts in Allen, TX. She’s currently studying at Dance Industry Performing Arts Center in Plano, TX, where she’s found a mentor in teacher Jessica Hendricks. That’s in addition to the dancing she does with Booker T.’s performing company. “My biggest challenge right now is that I need to calm down!” Madi says. “I always want to do absolutely everything.”

In addition to the numerous awards she’s racked up on the comp scene—including

being named New York City Dance Alliance National Teen Female Outstanding Dancer in 2011—Madi was a YoungArts winner in 2012. She says the time she spent at YoungArts Week in Miami, FL, this January was life-changing. “The teachers there taught me that nobody’s dancing is perfect,” she says. “In the comp and convention world, you see one or two beautiful dancers and say, ‘I have to be just like them.’ But at YoungArts I learned to be more confident in who I am.”

Madi Hicks (by Nathan Sayers)

Madi hopes to go to college in NYC after finishing high school. “I feel like I still have a lot to learn,” she says. “College is a big stepping stone. It helps you grow up.” And after that? Maybe a spot with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet or Complexions Contemporary Ballet, her dream companies. Or maybe gigs as a choreographer—Madi created the solo that earned her that YoungArts title, and is interested in making more work. “I’m just trying to stay open to everything,” she says.



Jessica Hendricks, Madi’s teacher at Dance Industry Performing Arts Center: “Madi is great at being a soloist, but also good at interacting with others and making them feel welcome and comfortable. She’s the type of dancer who strives for perfection during class and rehearsal, never waiting until the performance to test herself.”

Greg Zane, ballet teacher at Broadway Dance Center: “She’s very strong throughout her center with very nice feet. She has the complete package of a dancer and really feels the music. She uses her technique with the music to create movement. She’s very beautiful.”


Birthday: March 14, 1996

Dance idol: Andy Pellick

Dance crush: Teddy Forance

3 words that describe her personality: “Outgoing, happy, generous”

3 words that describe her dancing: “Technical, flowy, expressive”

Madi Hicks (by Nathan Sayers)

Actress who would play her in a movie: “Emma Stone, maybe? She seems cool.”

Secret talent: “I really love photography. Once I start dancing professionally, I kind of want to be a photographer on the side.”

Favorite dance movie: Flashdance

If she could be a superhero, her power would be: Reading minds

Best advice she’s ever received: “My teacher, Jessica Hendricks, taught me never to be comfortable in my dancing. I like this quote: It is only when we realize ‘ordinary’ is an insult that we become as extraordinary as we can be. The moment you think you’re getting good—that’s when you stop improving.”


MAD FOR MADI? Click here to vote.


Back to Cover Model Search Intro

Read about Hayden Hopkins

Read about Alexa Luke

Hayden Hopkins (by Nathan Sayers)

Hayden Hopkins, with her long, wavy hair, dream-dancer figure and legs that comprise 70 percent of her body, moves with intention, passion and a slyly sweet smirk. She teeters across the floor on a relevé so high you think her feet just might snap—but she has the strength to stay on balance while bringing her other leg into a développé extending far beyond her head.

It’s not surprising that picture-perfect Hayden, 16, has developed a cult following online, with more than 10,000 Facebook followers and an overwhelming number of dancers creating fan pages and reaching out to her through Twitter. She posts photos from competitions, shows off her impossibly bendy body and shares snapshots of her alongside fellow superstar friend Sophia Lucia. But Hayden wants her admirers to know there’s more to her seemingly charmed life beyond her Instagram filter.

“People see pictures of me and think I have this perfect life,” Hayden says. Despite the pretty pictures, though, Hayden hasn’t always had it easy, and the past few years have proven especially difficult.

Hayden started dancing at 2 in her home state of Washington. She delved into the competition scene early, but by 13 decided it wasn’t for her. “I wanted to get away and work on my training,” she says. Plus, things at home were taking a turn: Hayden’s parents had just been through a divorce, and finances became a struggle, especially with Hayden’s sister, Lennox, pursuing a competitive rhythmic gymnastic career. So Hayden, who is home-schooled and lives with her sister and their mom in Puyallup, WA, took her training into her own hands. She takes classes at various area studios when possible (primarily Westlake Dance Center in Seattle), travels with conventions when she’s awarded scholarships to cover the costs, and watches YouTube videos in her living room to guide her through barre and center-work exercises.

“I make my own connections,” Hayden says. She attends 10 to 12 conventions each year independently (including JUMP, NUVO and West Coast Dance Explosion) in an effort to meet as many choreographers as she can—and the relentless networking has paid off. At WCDE’s Las Vegas Nationals in 2010, Hayden met the owners of a studio based in Sydney, Australia. They loved Hayden—they had seen her on YouTube first, naturally—and offered to fly her Down Under to act as a guest teacher and choreographer. Hayden has been back for another monthlong stay to work with the studio, and that trip ended just two days before she flew to NYC for the Cover Model Search competition.

Hayden Hopkins (by Nathan Sayers)

“I love meeting people who recognize me from the internet,” she says. “I don’t know why people started to follow me, but hopefully it’s because they see something positive I’m putting out there.” As for the inevitable haters? “There will always be people who look for negatives, whether about my body or what I’m wearing—it’s easy for people to judge while they’re hiding behind their computers. But I’m proud of who I am.”


Stacey Tookey, convention instructor: “Hayden is a very talented young dancer with an incredible facility and a magnetic passion for dance. She stands out as a bright light, even in a class with hundreds of dancers. I adore her and I know she’ll go far.”

Greg Zane, ballet instructor at Broadway Dance Center: “Hayden has beautiful extensions and feet. She’s very strong. Her dancing reminds me of Sylvie Guillem’s—she has control over her extensions, so she doesn’t just whack her leg, she shows the line and

the energy through the body. It’s very pretty.”


Birthday: July 5, 1997

Most-played on her iPod: Lana Del Rey

Who would play her in a movie: Troian Bellisario, who plays Spencer on “Pretty Little Liars.” “I think she looks like me!”

Favorite actor: Leonardo DiCaprio

Dance goals: “I just want to be the person who’s always traveling. I always want

to be in a different state

or a different country.”

Favorite dancers of all time: Stacey Tookey, Nick Lazzarini, Travis Wall and Jason Parsons

Hayden Hopkins (by Nathan Sayers)

Favorite meal: Spaghetti and garlic bread

Strangest thing in her dance bag: “A rotten orange I keep forgetting to take out”

Favorite movie: Garden State

Must-see TV shows: “Pretty Little Liars”

and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” “Kourtney’s my favorite.”

If she could be a superhero, her power would be: “Invisibility, so

I could spy on people. And I know it sounds weird, but I’d spy on my best friend to see what she’s doing when I’m not around!”


LOVE HAYDEN? Click here to vote.


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Read about Madi Hicks

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