Even in a sweaty practice studio, ABT II’s Meaghan Grace Hinkis exudes a quality of performance-level flawlessness. As she rehearses the Sugar Plum Fairy pas de deux, not a hair is out of place in her classic French twist, and there are no holes in her pink tights—even her pointe shoes are scuff-free. Meaghan moves with extreme delicacy, her precise footwork contrasting with horizon-reaching extensions. She whips out triple fouettés consistently, arms extended in allongé. It’s clear she loves what she does; her energy radiates through the space and her smile is infectious.
Just 18 years old, Meaghan is in her second year dancing with ABT’s second company. She’s also a competition star: Meaghan won the bronze medal at the Helsinki International Ballet Competition in 2009, and in 2003 she received the Hope Award at a regional Youth America Grand Prix. Her early training in jazz at the New England Dance and Gymnastics Center in Westfield, MA, “definitely plays a part in her versatility,” says ABT II director Wes Chapman. “She can do anything.”
Meaghan began taking ballet when she was 11 years old to help her jazz technique. “I loved it,” she says. “I’m a perfectionist, and ballet is either done right or it’s wrong.” Meaghan continued her ballet journey at The Hartt School of Dance in Connecticut, and when she was 13 years old, her family moved to NYC so she could perform the role of Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. During 8th grade, Meaghan started training at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre before landing a spot in ABT II in 2007, just two years later. “Meaghan is refined for her age—more so than most,” Chapman says. “She is naturally talented and has so much drive.”
The most challenging part of Meaghan’s day? Finding the motivation to do homework after a full day of rehearsal! She’s finishing the courses (through correspondence) necessary for high school graduation and plans to continue her education with online college courses, or through the college classes ABT offers in conjunction with Long Island University. “Education helps your dancing—it keeps your brain sharp and helps you learn quickly,” Meaghan says. (Want to follow in Meaghan’s college-bound footsteps? Check out DanceU101.com to find your perfect program.)
Ultimately, Meaghan aspires to join ABT’s main company, eventually becoming a principal dancer. “She’s got everything it takes,” Chapman says. “She’s extraordinary.”
Birthday: May 27, 1991
Favorite dancer: Alina Cojocaru of The Royal Ballet. They share the same birthday!Her inspiration? “My sister is an elite-level gymnast. She’s my hero.”
Fave NYC spot: Rockefeller Center at Christmas timeFave TV show: “Criminal Minds”
Top three flicks: The Proposal, Miss Congeniality and Legally Blonde
Fave ice cream: Mixed chocolate and vanilla from Tasti D-Lite
Boyfriend?: “No boyfriend,” she says, “but I’m always looking!”
Jenny Dalzell is a dancer in NYC and assistant editor at Dance Teacher and Dance Retailer News.