Who's Who on the Comp Scene
Kali Grinder (PROPIX)
Studio: The Dance Zone in Henderson, NV
In a sea of contemporary soloists, playful musicality and controlled isolations set this long-legged beauty apart. Most recently, Kali was named New York City Dance Alliance’s National Senior Outstanding Dancer 2011 and West Coast Dance Explosion’s National Runner Up Elite Dancer.
Fun Fact: Kali takes voice lessons and loves to sing. “It really becomes a problem for my teammates and teachers on long car drives!” she says.
Sarah Pippin (courtesy The Dance Awards)
Studio: CC & Co. Dance Complex in Raleigh, NC
The tiny powerhouse wowed audiences in 2011 with her “Black Hawk Waltz” solo, where she showed that she can be delicate, she can be tough and she can balance for days. In 2011, Sarah was named NYCDA’s National Junior Female Outstanding Dancer and won the Teen Best Dancer title at The Dance Awards.
Fun Fact: Sarah is a die-hard North Carolina Tar Heels fan.
Megan Skalla (PROPIX)
Studio: The Dance Club in Orem, UT
A former Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, this pristine technician has an alluring stage presence and makes an aerial look as easy as skipping down the street.
Fun Fact: Megan is psyched to finally get her driver’s license this spring!
Payton Johnson (PROPIX)
Studios: Jean Leigh Academy of Dance in Denham Springs, LA, and the Dancers’ Workshop in Baton Rouge, LA
She’s balletic, funky and just plain fun to watch. In 2010, Payton was NYCDA’s National Mini Outstanding Dancer and NUVO’s National Mini Breakout Artist. Last year, she attended her first ballet competition and won the Youth America Grand Prix Hope Award. She also danced in the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and as Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
Fun Fact: Payton is a twin! She is two minutes older than her brother Parker.
Hannah Seiden (PROPIX)
Studio: Artistic Fusion Dance in Westminster, CO
The beyond-her-years maturity in Hannah’s passionate movement is captivating. In addition to dancing in Billy Bell’s Lunge Dance Collective, she recently won a four-year half-scholarship to Point Park University through NYCDA.
Fun Fact: Hannah loves to travel and aspires to visit hundreds of countries all
over the world.
Patrick Cook (by Brooke Roberson)
Studio: CC & Co. Dance Complex in Raleigh, NC
He’s cute, quirky and versatile, and he’s already dancing with the pros. Last December Patrick performed in Break the Floor Productions’ Come Together, the debut show for Shaping Sound, a new company started by Travis Wall, Nick Lazzarini, Teddy Forance, Kyle Robinson and Misha Gabriel. Patrick is also an Advanced Pro Elite Protégé with The PULSE on Tour.
Fun Fact: Patrick can make water drop sounds like Cameron Frye in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Victoria McWilliams (PROPIX)
Studio: Tempe Dance Academy in Tempe, AZ
With almost superhuman lines and control, this trained gymnast is as alluring on the dance floor as on the mat, whether performing her signature ring leap and back handspring half-twist or a simple port de bras. In 2009, Victoria was a Junior Olympics silver medalist for gymnastics, and she was also the 2010 New York City Dance Alliance first runner-up Teen Outstanding Dancer.
Fun Fact: Victoria loves the Harry Potter movies. She has a crush on Tom Felton, who plays Draco Malfoy.
Luke Nielsen Spring (courtesy Jill Spring)
LUKE NIELSEN SPRING
Studio: Studio Bleu Dance Center in Ashburn, VA
Since finding a pair of tap shoes in the lost-and-found at his sister’s dance studio when he was 4, this tiny tap prodigy has charmed audiences with intricate rhythms that even a seasoned professional would envy. He competes in a variety of styles, but his natural talent in tap has earned him TV performances on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and the Season 7 Finale of “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Fun Fact: At his first competition, when asked what he hoped to receive if he performed well, Luke replied, “pancakes.” When onstage during the awards ceremony, not only did he receive a first-place trophy, ribbon, plaque and medal, but the competition director presented him with a stack of hot pancakes as well!
Emma Bradley (PROPIX)
Studio: Buffa’s Dance Studio in Burke, VA
Emma Bradley is a personality-filled portrait of versatility, comfortable in everything from delicate pointe work to hard-hitting jazz. In addition to her summer studies with American Ballet Theatre and Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell, Emma travels the convention circuit and participates in the NRG YouTube Video Dance Project. Her 2011 awards include NUVO Teen Breakout Artist and Teen High Score Soloist and WCDE Teen Elite Dancer. She’s also an Artists Simply Human Apprentice Winner.
Fun Fact: Emma loves her pet rabbits (Coco and Lola) and Nike sneakers.
Kamryn Beck (courtesy Starpower)
Studio: Krystie’s Dance Academy in Warren, OH
Kamryn’s dynamic energy and musicality make her impossible not to watch. She assists Mollee Gray at Wild Dance Conventions and was Starpower’s 2010 and 2011 National Junior Miss Dance.
Fun Fact: Kamryn’s family recently moved to Lancaster, PA, but she still commutes to Krystie’s in Warren, OH, every weekend to train—a five-hour drive each way! She sleeps over with studio owner Krystie or a teammate from Friday to Sunday.
Christina Ricucci (by David Hofmann)
Studios: Murrieta Dance Project in Murrieta, CA, and Dmitri Kulev Classical Ballet Academy in Laguna Hills, CA
This lithe beauty is the whole package: Not only is she the current “Miss Teen Dance America” for Kids Artistic Revue, but she also performs with the contemporary dance company Westside Dance Project, sings, models and was the 2010 Gold Medalist at the World Ballet Competition.
Fun Fact: Christina’s dad is in a band, and she loves to go onstage and sing with him.
Jordan Pelliteri (PROPIX)
Studio: Plumb Performing Arts Center in Scottsdale, AZ
Just try to watch this girl dance without staring at those gorgeous legs. The 2008 NYCDA National Outstanding Mini recently filmed a promo for the new TV show “Smash,” and in January she performed in NYCDA’s Destiny Rising show at NYC’s The Joyce Theater.
Fun Fact: Jordan’s favorite TV show is “Pretty Little Liars.”
Madison Cubbage (courtesy Strictly Rhythm)
Studio: Strictly Rhythm in Alexandria, VA
This super–in-shape, well-rounded powerhouse is constantly on the road assisting at The PULSE on Tour (where she’s an Elite Protégé) and Motiv8 Tour Dance Convention (where she’s an Apprentice).
Fun Fact: Madison works hard for those killer abs! She does core work several times daily.
Vinson Fraley Jr. (by Joshua Fedorul)
VINSON FRALEY JR.
Studio: DanceMakers of Atlanta, Inc., in Atlanta, GA
Vinson’s passionate lyricism and strong lines draw you into his world when he dances. The NYCDA high score soloist recently received a scholarship to the Dance Theater of Harlem’s summer program and hopes to one day dance with Alonzo King LINES Ballet or Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Fun Fact: Vinson is a National Honor Student and loves to entertain his classmates with impersonations of funny TV commercials.
Paisley Norburg (PROPIX)
Studio: Next Step Dance Performing Arts Center in Frisco, TX
This high-energy blonde beauty is making moves on the competition stage and beyond.
She has been an NYCDA Regional Outstanding Dancer for the past three years and can be seen on the box of Mattel’s Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Barbie. She also recently danced in an Angelina Ballerina video segment.
Fun Fact: Paisley is a straight-A student and loves working with special needs children at her middle school.
The groundwork for Erin Carpenter's company, Nude Barre, began when she was a teenager. At 16, she earned a spot in the residency program at The Kennedy Center in partnership with Dance Theatre of Harlem. "We were required to wear nude—as in, our actual skin tone—tights and shoes," she remembers. Carpenter brought her "sun tan" tights and a pair of pink ballet shoes with her, because that was all she could find. But she wasn't allowed in class because her dancewear didn't match her skin. "I was so embarrassed," she says. "I looked unprepared. I just didn't have the right nudes." Her teacher explained that the dancers dyed their tights and pancaked their shoes.
There are dancers and then there are DANCERS! Whitney Jensen, soloist at Norwegian National Ballet, is the latter. The former Boston Ballet principal can do it all. From contemporary to the classics this prima has the technical talent most bunheads dream about. Need proof? Look no further.
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's dance inducing hit, "Despacito," is so catchy it should probably come with a disclaimer that warns people of an uncontrollable itch to tap your feet or bob your head. Some might even feel inclined to go all out and break it down. Niana Guerrero is a prime example of "Despacito's" uncanny ability to unleash the red dressed emoji dancer within. 💃🏽 💃🏽
Guys, we all knew this was coming—"World of Dance" was eventually going to eliminate someone. But man, is it brutal to watch these talented dancers give their all, only to be sent home. It's the name of the game, though, and after last night's episode, only two dancers per division remain. (At least Misty Copeland guest-judging was a silver lining!) Here's what went down last night:
They've impressed the judges, now it's time for the Top 100 dancers to enroll at The Academy—and to impress the All-Stars. Welcome to So You Think You Can Dance Academy!
The 100 dancers who made it through auditions in NYC or L.A. are now at The Academy, which is basically a beautiful building with floor-to-ceiling windows. The show opens with that Mandy Moore-choreographed Academy routine which, even after watching it 12 times and trying to learn all the choreography at home, is still delightful.
This Nationals season, Dance Spirit followed four talented dancers from The Dance Awards, NYCDA, Showstopper, and Starpower for an inside look at everything that goes into the biggest competitions of the year. First up: Isabella Torres from Mid-Atlantic Center for the Performing Arts in Baltimore, MD, who competed at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals for the first time this year. (All photos courtesy Shannon Torres.)
Merritt Moore is a ballerina who just so happens to be graduating from Oxford University with a PhD in quantum physics. Is she even human? The jury is still out on that - but the 29-year-old, who earned her undergrad degree from Harvard, has actually found dance to be a powerful tool that assists her in her studies.