Aran Bell

Aran Bell performing Don Quixote at Youth America Grand Prix. Photo by Nina Alovert, courtesy YAGP.

It’s not just that Aran Bell can nail a picture-perfect quintuple pirouette, with a sustained relevé to finish. Or that the 13-year-old can whip out split jumps effortlessly at the end of an exhausting variation. Despite his small stature (5’ 2’’), Aran shines with an impossibly huge presence. He has you hooked from the moment he appears onstage, where he looks completely at home. And, OK—he’s totally adorable.

At age 3, Aran (pronounced AR-an) hounded his mom for a year to let him take ballet like his older sister. After his dad, a Navy doctor, was posted to Washington, D.C., Aran commuted two hours each way to Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet for two years. When his dad was transferred to Naples, Italy, three years ago, Aran began training under the tough Denys Ganio at Maison de La Danse in Rome, a two-hour drive from Naples.

Naturally very shy, Aran credits Ganio with pushing him to develop his stage presence. “At the beginning, the most I did was smile. Maybe,” he adds, with a grin.

Now a seasoned performer, Aran loves the thrill of competing—and he has wowed audiences all over the world, including spectators at the 2011 Youth America Grand Prix finals in NYC, where he won the overall prize in the Junior Division. After touring with YAGP for two weeks, he received coaching on his Basilio Act III variation from one of the best Basilios ever: former American Ballet Theatre principal Jose Manuel Carreño.

Carreño singled out Aran for his natural talent and singular focus and invited him to attend the Carreño Dance Festival summer intensive in Sarasota, FL, last August, for more coaching. “It’s so awesome,” says Aran, visibly humbled when talking about working with his idol. “He’s really, really good at teaching, especially Don Quixote. He knows everything.”

In addition to performing at competitions and galas across Europe, Aran may choose to attend a different school next year. He has standing offers from Paris Opéra Ballet School, The Royal Ballet School, Stuttgart Ballet School and ABT’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School—all affiliated with companies that he says he would love to join someday. And his dream ballet? Now that he has the Basilio variation down, he wants to tackle the rest of Don Q.

Aran at the Carreño Dance Festival. Photo by Bill Wagy, courtesy Carreño Dance Festival.

FAST FACTS:

Birthday: October 7, 1998

Most-played song on his iPod: Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”

Hidden obsession: His huge collection of Nerf guns. “When I’m done dancing, I’ll probably either design Nerf guns or fix them.”

Favorite movie: Rambo

Still gets starstruck when: Taking class with his other idols—ABT’s Ethan Stiefel and the Bolshoi’s Ivan Vasiliev (a fellow lefty who Aran beat in a pirouette competition backstage

at YAGP).

Craziest prize: 7,000 euro (about $9,500) for winning a competition in Milan that he received special permission to enter (it was supposed to be for 16- to 25-year-olds)

Unwinds on the weekends by: Playing soccer, riding his bike, taking trips

Movie star moment: Aran is one of the six students profiled in the new Youth America Grand Prix documentary, First Position.

Latest Posts


Here's why every dancer should be paying attention this year. (Getty Images/Jenny On The Moon)

The Dancer's Guide to the 2020 Election

With the 2020 election right around the corner, many have taken to social media to rally around the need to vote. This is especially true for members of the dance community, many of whom are concerned about how the election will impact not only the future of their careers, but also their human rights.

The beauty of the dance community lies in the diversity of the people that make it up, those of all different sizes, races, genders, sexual orientations, and backgrounds. Yet many of these intersectionalities are at risk—and so is the future of arts in general, due to COVID-19. It's because of these reasons that leading dancers find this election cycle to be one of the most important—if not the most important—in our lifetime.

Dance Spirit spoke with five dance stars about why they're voting this November, what issues they're most passionate about, and how you can get involved, even if you're too young to register.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Everything you need for a Zoom-ready Halloween costume (Getty Images/Bogdan Kurylo)

4 Zoom Dance Class-Ready Costumes for a Very 2020 Halloween

These days, we're all about finding the silver linings, especially for the many dancers who have yet to return to in-person dance classes. And while might not get the *classic* studio mirror pic with your besties in costume this year, we're here to tell you that Zoom can lend some additional creativity to your Halloween look.

That's right: This year, we're using the Zoom background feature to add another layer of awesome to our Halloween costumes. Here are four very danceable and 2020-themed costume ideas, complete with Zoom background suggestions to bring your Halloween vibes to the next level.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Including Tyce Diorio and Phillip Chbeeb for High Strung: Free Dance (Jo Bee, courtesy Michael Damian)

Here's the Full List of the 2020 World Choreography Award Nominees

We at Dance Spirit are *huge* fans of awards shows—particularly, awards shows that highlight dance. So naturally, we're extra-huge fans of the World Choreography Awards, which have recognized and celebrated all the fabulous choreography happening in movies, TV shows, commercials, and on stages for a full decade.

For the WCA 10th anniversary, the winners of the nine categories—spanning stage and screen—will be announced at the Virtual Live Stream Ceremony on December 8th. We can't wait to see which of our fave choreographers takes home a "Choreo." Get excited by checking out the full list of nominees below.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search