Alyssa Allen photographed by Erin Baiano
A dancer who has “the whole package”? That sounds like a bad cliché—until you see Alyssa Allen improvise. Then the statement makes perfect sense: She’s got serious technical skill, plus that “je ne sais quoi” quality that glues your eyes to her. But it’s her fearlessness that truly sets her apart from the rest.
“I love to go on adventures,” says the 17-year-old California native. “I love going to the beach or hiking. One of my aspirations is to go cliff jumping.” This daredevil attitude also translates into the dance studio: Whether she’s tackling a new contemporary phrase by Westside Dance Project’s Jessie Riley or perfecting a tricky ballet combo at Dmitri Kulev Classical Ballet Academy, Alyssa puts her entire being into the work. “I’m always working on getting more grounded and pushing myself further,” she says. “I focus a lot on technique, but I also need to let loose—to give myself the freedom to find extremes within the technique.”
Choreographers and judges alike have taken note of that drive. In addition to assisting at 24 Seven Dance Convention this year, Alyssa—who also attends a performing arts high school—was a YoungArts L.A. merit scholarship winner this spring, and in November she was named a Senior Female Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance in L.A.
A rising senior, Alyssa has college auditions on the horizon. “It’s been hard to balance school and dance,” she says. “And now that it’s my senior year, the stakes are a bit higher.” She says she’s “infatuated” with the East Coast, and plans to audition for The Juilliard School, Point Park University, SUNY Purchase and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Alyssa’s ultimate goal is a contract with a contemporary company—Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater are at the top of her list. But commercial work is also appealing. “One of my biggest role models is Pam Chu,” Alyssa says, noting an L.A. dancer who fluctuates between work on TV and the proscenium stage. “She’s touring with Britney [Spears] and is Peter Chu’s muse. I’m envious of her ability to go between the concert and commercial worlds.”
For now, Alyssa is getting a good taste of everything. This summer she’ll be busy competing at The Dance Awards Nationals in Las Vegas and participating in two summer programs: the Cedar Lake 180º intensive in NYC and BodyTraffic’s Summer Program in L.A. She’ll also be trading in her permit for a driver’s license.
“Alyssa is mature beyond her years. She’s not afraid to experiment. Some dancers don’t put themselves on the line because they’re not sure what a choreographer wants. But Alyssa never holds back. She comes to every experience just being herself.” —Jessie Riley, director of Westside Dance Project
Birthday: January 24, 1997
Who she’s listening to right now: James Blake
Favorite dancers of all time: Ida Saki and Billy Bell
Favorite food: Homemade pancakes
Favorite dance movie: White Nights, with Baryshnikov
Who would play her in a movie? Natalie Portman
Must-see TV show: “Sherlock,” with Benedict Cumberbatch
Strangest thing in her dance bag: “I just emptied it out…I found a month-old orange. I’m not sure if that’s funny—or gross!”
When she needs a little extra inspiration: “My go-to video is of Sylvie Guillem in William Forsythe’s In the middle, somewhat elevated. I watch it all the time. But often I’ll just go to class, and my love for dance is reignited.”
CAN’T GET ENOUGH ALYSSA? Click here to vote for her!