We are so excited to introduce this year's three Cover Model Search finalists: Hannah Bettes, Alyssa Ness and Megan Skalla!
All three girls are fabulous and we had a blast with them during their time in NYC this April. You can read all about the three talented dancers in the July/August issue of DS (it should be in your mailbox any day now!), and then click here to check out the official CMS site.
Look at photos of the finalists, watch their solo videos and get a behind-the-scenes peek at their trip to NYC.
Then comes the hard part: Pick your favorite dancer!
Are you in love with Alyssa's extra-long extensions? Totally digging Megan's spunky personality and archy feet? Or maybe you've got a thing for Hannah, who makes beautiful ballet look easy.
We know it's tough, but take a look around, and then decide who you want to see on the October cover of Dance Spirit. You only get to vote once, so make it count!
Boston Ballet's new corps member, Hannah Bettes
Photo by Nathan Sayers for DS (2012)
At Dance Spirit, we're clearly brimming with excitement about Whitney Jensen's recent promotion to principal dancer at Boston Ballet. (You can read her amazing story here, and don't forget to check out the behind-the-scenes video from our cover shoot!) But another newsflash from The Bean also has us smiling: DS's 2012 Cover Model Search finalist Hannah Bettes has joined the company's corps de ballet!
Since Hannah—and her feet—appeared in Dance Spirit, she's been training in London at the Royal Ballet School. We're excited to have Hannah back on American soil, and we can't wait to see what great things come her way. Congrats, Hannah!
Think you have what it takes to be the next Cover Model Search winner? Click here to learn how to enter.
If you pictured a dream ballet dancer, you’d be seeing Hannah Bettes. The 16-year-old has gorgeous facility: impossible, effortless flexibility and crescent-moon feet. But watch her move, and it becomes clear she’s not just a Ballerina Barbie. She’s a smart dancer. When she gets a correction, it’s immediately absorbed, processed and—boom—problem solved. Though Hannah’s DS photo shoot was her first time modeling, she had an inherent understanding of what would look good on camera. Remarkably self-aware, she wowed the editors, pose after gorgeous pose. This is a girl with serious prima potential.
The last time DS caught up with Hannah (“You Should Know,” January 2011), she had just started training intensively in ballet at Florida’s renowned Next Generation Ballet at the Patel Conservatory, after spending several years dominating the jazz and contemporary competition scene with The Dance P.A.D. (then known as Deltona Academy of Dance). “I kind of flipped over to ballet,” Hannah says. “While I was still at my comp studio, I won the silver medal at the World Ballet Competition, I went to the School of American Ballet’s summer program and I did The Nutcracker. Eventually I was like, Yeah: Ballet is what I want to do.”
Initially, Hannah liked that ballet was a constant quest for perfection. But now, after a few years at Patel, she’s discovering another side of the artform. “I really enjoy the acting part of it, becoming different characters in different ballets,” she says. Her dance dream used to be joining New York City Ballet, with its repertoire of neoclassical works by George Balanchine. “But my perspective on everything has changed,” she says. “I want to go really classical now. I realized that in companies like The Royal Ballet and Paris Opéra Ballet, you get to try out Balanchine, but you get to do Swan Lake and Giselle, too. I also have a more classical body. Balanchine dancers tend to be taller; I’m only 5' 2".”
Hannah’s well on her way to her classical dreams: In April she won the Senior gold medal at Youth America Grand Prix finals in NYC, and she’ll head to London’s Royal Ballet School this fall, thanks to a scholarship she won at the Prix de Lausanne in February. “I miss the fun energy of studio competitions sometimes, but ballet competitions like Lausanne are crazy—doing well at one of them can change your life,” she says. Her visit to Lausanne, Switzerland, for the Prix also gave Hannah her first taste of the European dance scene. “It’s a totally different atmosphere,” she says. “Ballet is so well-known and respected in Europe. There’s more opportunity. I can see myself ending up over there.”
Birthday: March 26, 1996
First thing she does in the morning: “I usually sit on the couch for an hour, just to wake up.”
Most-played on her iPod: “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver
Three words that describe her: “Adventurous, outgoing, happy”
Last thing she does at night: “I like to go on Tumblr. I follow a bunch of my friends’ blogs, and I have my own Tumblr now—it’s all dance stuff and inspirational quotes.”
Strangest thing in her dance bag: “I have one of those things to stretch your straddle—it looks like a giant rubber band.”
Must-see TV shows: “ ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ for sure. I know most people have given up on that show by now, but I still love it!”
Dream dance role: “Probably Giselle. The ballet has such a beautiful, moving story. I love watching Alina Cojocaru’s Giselle online.”
Dance crush: Sergei Polunin (former principal dancer with The Royal Ballet)
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT HANNAH:
Peter Stark, Hannah’s teacher at Next Generation Ballet at the Patel Conservatory: “Hannah has extraordinary flexibility. When she lifts her leg, it just keeps going up. But she’s committed to the artistry of classical ballet, as well as the gymnastics of it. She’s learned how to make decisions about placement that create the best line and enhance her musicality. I’ve never seen Hannah lose her temper and I’ve never seen her cry. She’s not motivated by the short-term goal of a medal—she’s motivated by the long-term process of becoming a great dancer. Thanks to her experience with competitions, she knows she won’t win every time. And when she doesn’t, she just says, ‘OK, next.’ ”
Matthew Powell, ballet instructor at Broadway Dance Center: “Hannah has beautiful legs and feet, and with her extension comes amazing control, which is a rarity. In class she was very upbeat and positive and always engaged in the corrections I gave her.”
Megan, Alyssa and Hannah (Photo by Nathan Sayers)
Each year, the Dance Spirit editors spend hours watching the videos dancers have uploaded in the Cover Model Search competition on dancemedia.com. And while that’s always entertaining—you superstars have some great technique and stellar stage presence!—what we really look forward to is the week when the three editor-selected finalists travel to NYC to take classes at Broadway Dance Center, pose for a DS photographer, catch a Broadway show and show off their solos.
So when Hannah Bettes, Megan Skalla and Alyssa Ness arrived in Manhattan, we couldn’t wait to get to know them better. Naturally we’d done our research beforehand: We knew Hannah was the ballerina, Megan was the sweet one from Utah and Alyssa was the alluring blonde. We knew they collectively had some of the pointiest feet and longest, bendiest legs we’d ever seen, and we knew they were all talented, hard-working and oh-so-dedicated to dance. What we didn’t realize was just how much these three would shine in class, light up in front of the camera and go full-out when performing. Let’s just say we were pleasantly surprised. This year’s finalists are going places, starting—for one of them—with the October cover of Dance Spirit.
Now the decision is in your hands—and we’re glad, because if we had our way all three would be on the cover together. Read about Megan, Alyssa and Hannah, and then go to dancespirit.com//cms to watch their solos and to see even more photos. Pick your favorite (good luck!) and cast your vote beginning June 15.
Vote for your favorite finalist at dancespirit.com/cms!
That impossibly elastic back. That up-to-there extension. Those out-of-this-world feet. It’s a no-brainer: 14-year-old Hannah Bettes was made to be a ballerina.
And yet Hannah is shockingly new to the world of ballet. The Dallas, TX, native first began studying jazz and contemporary at The Dance P.A.D. (then known as Deltona Academy of Dance) in Florida at age 8, and quickly racked up title after title at competitions. She didn’t discover ballet until she was 12, when she began taking a couple of classes a week at Central Florida Ballet. “Ballet is so challenging, because you’re striving for this impossible perfection,” Hannah says. “I fell in love with the discipline of it.” And ballet loved her back: She won the silver medal at the World Ballet Competition in 2008, was one of just three Americans to place in the top 12 at the Youth America Grand Prix finals in 2009 and spent two summers at the prestigious School of American Ballet (SAB) in NYC—the second on full scholarship.
Now Hannah trains at the Patel Conservatory in Tampa, under the direction of former New York City Ballet dancer Peter Stark. She’s also the youngest “new artist” (company member) with the conservatory’s Next Generation Ballet. “The first time I saw Hannah, my jaw hit the floor,” Stark says. “She has flexibility and strength and a phenomenal line to her feet and legs—things you almost never get all together. She’s hungry to learn, and because she has no physical limitations, her progress is stratospheric.” Stark also thinks Hannah’s comp-school background works to her advantage in ballet. “All that competing has rendered her totally fearless,” he says. “She doesn’t have the timidity that limits many ballet dancers—she goes for the fifth pirouette every time.”
This winter, Hannah starred as the Snow Queen in the conservatory’s Nutcracker, dancing a pas de deux Stark choreographed for her and his former student Jeffrey Cirio (now a second soloist at Boston Ballet). What’s next? Hannah says, “Eventually I’d love to study at SAB, and then join New York City Ballet.”
Birthday: March 26, 1996
Most-played on her iPod: Kate Nash’s “Skeleton Song”
Must-see TV shows: “Criminal Minds” and “iCarly”
Favorite food: “Corn! Like, any kind of corn. I know it sounds weird, but I love it.”
Dance crush: Sascha Radetsky
Dance idol: Sylvie Guillem
Dream dance role: Odette/Odile in Swan Lake