Ariah Tsukada-Aka: Little Babywockee

(Photo by Angel Aka, courtesy Aka)

Ariah Tsukada-Aka has known she wanted to join the Jabbawockeez since she was 3, when she first saw the group on “America’s Best Dance Crew” Season 1. She began studying their YouTube videos and experimenting with their movement style. At 5, she got her big break: Crew member Kevin Brewer invited her to perform on the “ABDC” Season 6 finale after meeting her at Tunay Ink Dance Studios in Las Vegas, NV. Brewer was taken by Ariah’s ability to mimic the Jabbawockeez’ signature style of popping, and Ariah became known as Little Babywockee. Now 9, she’s kept the hip-hop dream alive, training on her own in California—with occasional lessons from Brewer, Popping John, Poreotics’ Dumbo and Kaba Modern’s Mike Song—and battling it out across L.A. and Las Vegas.

"At the end of my first performance with the Jabbawockeez on ‘ABDC,’ it was so exciting to take off my mask and show the world I was a part of the crew."

Fast Facts

Birthday: May 5, 2005

Hometown: “I’m from Honolulu, but now I live in Orange County.”

What she’s listening to right now: “Timber,” by Kesha

Favorite food: chicken wings

Hidden talent: “I beat-box and rap.”

Performer she’d love to work with: Justin Bieber

Pre-show routine: “I jump up and down with my parents and eat chocolate to get excited!”

Favorite hip-hop styles: Popping, robotics, krumping, isolations, house dance and locking

Latest Posts

Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by Jamayla Burse

Catching Up With Christian Burse, Comp Kid Turned Complexions Rising Star

With her nearly limitless facility, well-timed dynamics and incredible control, Christian Burse's future as a dancer was guaranteed to be bright. A student at the renowned Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, and at Dance Industry Performing Arts Center in Plano, TX, Burse has consistently made waves: She won first runner-up for Teen Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals in 2019, received a grant for summer study at Juilliard from the Texas Young Masters program in 2020, and was named a YoungArts finalist for dance in 2021.

So, it wasn't all that surprising when Burse announced that, at just 17 years old, she would be joining Complexions Contemporary Ballet as an apprentice for the company's 2021–22 season.

Dance Spirit caught up with Burse to hear all about her first season with Complexions ahead of the contemporary ballet company's run at the Joyce Theater in NYC this month.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search