Camren Bicondova (by Michael Higgins)
Whether she’s in class at L.A.’s Millennium Dance Complex, demonstrating at The PULSE On Tour or competing on “America’s Best Dance Crew,” it’s easy to pick Camren Bicondova out of a crowd of dancers. She’s probably the smallest, with the cutest pixie cut—and she probably has the most swagger. At just 13 years old, Camren has the cool-kid thing locked down. She’s effortlessly stylish, and she’s got the dance skills to match.
Though she makes it look easy, Camren has put in the work to master her hip-hop moves. She began dancing at age 6 after enduring years of seizures. Her mom put her in dance classes hoping they would help—and they did. Camren hasn’t had a seizure since she took her first class. She enrolled in ballet and hip hop at a studio in her hometown of San Diego, CA, and began competing and attending conventions. But a few years later, her family moved to Hawaii when her dad, a Navy SEAL, was transferred there.
It was in Hawaii, dancing with the studio 24-VII Danceforce, that Camren truly learned to love dancing. “24-VII isn’t competitive,” she says. “We just danced our hearts out. That’s the way it is there: You dance and let yourself feel good. That’s when I got more serious about hip hop and jazz funk. I was like, ‘This is nice. I can just be me.’ ”
Eventually, Camren made her way back to the convention scene, dancing at a PULSE event in L.A. It was there that a Clear Talent Group agent spotted and signed her. Camren’s first professional job was a role on Disney’s “Shake It Up.” “I got to see how an actual job works,” Camren says.
After “Shake It Up,” Camren’s professional life took off. She booked a role in the film Battlefield America and formed the 8 Flavahz crew— which took second place on “ABDC” Season 7—with a group of L.A.- and Hawaii-based dancers. But Camren’s career highlight was becoming a PULSE Elite Protégé for the 2011–12 season, which allowed her to travel with the convention, assisting its big-name faculty. “I never thought of myself as a technical dancer,” Camren says. “The teachers pushed me and told me I can be technical.”
Now, her family has been transferred back to California, where Camren will make L.A. her home base. She takes classes every day and recently performed in this year’s Macy’s Glamorama show. And Camren has big future plans: “I want to be a dancer, of course,” she says. “And an actress. And a model. And a choreographer.”
Most-played on her iPod: “No Diggity” by Blackstreet featuring Dr. Dre and “Changes” by 2Pac featuring Talent
Must-see TV shows: “So You Think You Can Dance,” “America’s Next Top Model” and “Phineas and Ferb”
Favorite actress: Jessica Alba. “My favorite movie is Honey.”
Who would play her in a movie: “The boy who played Porky in The Little Rascals!” [Zachary Mabry]
If she could be a superhero, her power would be: Reading people’s minds.
Her live-by mantra: “Eat, sleep, dance, repeat.”
Just in case you missed it: To highlight last Thursday's International Day of the Girl, The New York Times has launched a unique photographic and editorial project called #ThisIs18, all with the aim of spotlighting what life is really like for 18-year-old women around the world.
It's contest time! You could win your choice of Apolla Shocks (up to 100 pairs) for your whole studio! Apolla Performance believes dancers are Artists AND Athletes—wearing Apolla Shocks helps you be both! Apolla Shocks are footwear for dancers infused with sports science technology while maintaining a dancer's traditions and lines. They provide support, protection, and traction that doesn't exist anywhere else for dancers, helping them dance longer and stronger. Apolla wants to get your ENTIRE studio protected and supported in Apolla Shocks! How? Follow these steps:
Quinn Starner is no stranger to competitions. The 16-year-old "So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation" alum has been slaying the contemporary circuit for years, winning Best Teen Dancer at The Dance Awards in 2017. But lately she's been more focused on ballet, relocating from Florida to train at the Indiana Ballet Conservatory two years ago. And while she's won awards at ballet competitions like ADC|IBC and Youth America Grand Prix, in June she upped the stakes by going to the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS—an audition-only event that's one of the world's most prestigious comps. We followed Quinn on her Jackson journey.
Is there anything better than a dance convention? Frankly, we don't think so. Although we love getting a guest teacher to come to our studio for a masterclass every so often, there's just something so exciting about packing up our leotards and dance shoes and heading to a convention for the weekend. Here are 7 reasons why dance conventions are, without a doubt, the greatest things ever.
Amanda LaCount was born to move. The second the music comes on at her Dance Spirit cover shoot, the bubbly 17-year-old is shimmying her shoulders and tossing her hair. When she launches into a full-out freestyle to Whitney Houston's "It's Not Right But It's Okay," you can't take your eyes off her.
And yet with every gig she lands, Amanda is challenging some of the dance world's longest-held biases. "I'm curvy," she says, "and I like being curvy. My body is not a bad thing. It's who I am." Here's how Amanda went from talented tot to hardworking pro—and from insecure preteen to body-positive role model.
Boston Ballet principal Ashley Ellis' dancing is the perfect pairing of ethereal grace and punchy musicality. The Torrance, CA, native began training at South Bay Ballet at age 6, and attended the School of American Ballet summer program in 1998. In 2001, she was accepted into American Ballet Theatre's Studio Company, and the following year, she joined ABT's corps de ballet. In 2007, she became a founding member of Corella Ballet Castilla y León in Spain, under the direction of Angel Corella. Three years later, she headed back to the States and danced with Sarasota Ballet before joining Boston Ballet as a second soloist in 2011. In 2013, she was promoted to principal dancer. Catch her performing this season in the company's Nutcracker. —Courtney Bowers
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This story originally appeared on dancemagazine.com.
"So why did you quit?"
It's a question I've been asked hundreds of times since I stopped dancing over a decade ago. My answer has changed over the years as my own understanding of what lead me to walk away from greatest love of my life has become clearer.
"I had some injures," I would mutter nervously for the first few years. This seemed like the answer people understood most. Then it became, "I was just not very happy." Finally, as I passed into my 30s, I began telling the uncomfortable truth: "I quit dancing because of untreated depression."
It's the age-old debate: Is dance a sport? The answer is, without a doubt, YES. Of course, dance is much more than just a sport. But when we get down to the logistics of it all, it's impossible not to recognize it as the athletic endeavor it is. Here are 10 reasons why dance absolutely qualifies as a sport.
Let's take a walk down memory lane to this past September, when the #LevelUpChallenge was in full-blown viral mode. Literally thousands of videos of people dancing to Ciara's song "Level Up" flooded the Internet, but only one truly broke it: an amazing clip of the Wilson Central High School Dance Team—and their Assistant Principal, Ranesa Shipman. Never one to miss out on a viral dance challenge, Ellen DeGeneres decided to have Shipman and the team perform on "The Ellen Show"—and the fun didn't stop there.
You and your phone have more in common than you might guess, says Dr. Rafael Pelayo, pediatrician and clinical professor at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine. "If you charge your phone halfway, it works for a few hours," he explains. "But it's not performing at its full potential, and you have to be careful about how you use that energy."
It'd be nice to just plug into the wall for nine hours until you hit 100 percent battery, but for (human) dancers, it's not that simple. So DS asked Dr. Pelayo and Dr. Argelinda Baroni, co-director of the Child and Adolescent Sleep Program in the department of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone Health, how to maximize your own battery life—ensuring you'll dance better and more safely in the process.
Two dancers from different studios on opposite ends of the country meeting at a dance competition may sound like the formula for a cheesy teen-rivalry movie. But it's actually real life for lots of dancers on the comp circuit. Meet four sets of adorable BFFs who found winning friendships at a competition.
We still can't get over the talent on "Dancing with the Stars: Juniors"—like how many YouTube tutorials do we have to watch to become half as good as these mini dancing machines? And just in case you forgot how skilled these prodigies are, this week's theme was sure to remind you: Last night, the ten couples performed to songs that came out the year they were born. (But let's be real, most of these songs aren't really that much of a throwback.)
It's safe to say that the bond between dancing siblings is one of the strongest out there. But for sisters Emma, 16, and Ava Blaser, 10, that bond runs deeper than most can even fathom: The pair continued to dance together throughout Ava's treatment for kidney cancer remission, and they say it helped them heal.
With cooler weather finally here, it's time to talk warm-ups. And while your dancewear drawer is probably overflowing with oversized sweaters, leggings and enough leg warmers to outfit the whole class, warm-up boots are often forgotten. To keep your feet and ankles cozy in between rehearsals, we rounded up dance warm-up boots that suit every style.