Here’s a not-so-secret secret: Christina Ricucci is a little bit of an overachiever. This summer alone, she attended two prestigious intensives (at Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater), three Nationals (New York City Dance Alliance, The Dance Awards and Showstopper) and one turbocharged convention (Dancerpalooza). And you all obviously admire that kind of extreme dance dedication, not to mention her gorgeous facility and radiant stage presence: Christina racked up thousands of votes during DS’s Cover Model Search contest, earning her this month’s cover! It’s yet another accolade to add to her already impressive list of accomplishments, which includes multiple competition titles. Oh, and did we mention she just turned 16? DS caught up with the impossibly busy dancer during a rare moment of downtime to get the scoop on all her summer adventures. Congratulations, Christina!
Dance Spirit: So, what have you been up to these past few months?
Christina Ricucci: Things have been crazy—but totally worth it! I feel like I explored so many different sides of the dance world this summer. At Cedar Lake’s intensive, we learned a lot of repertoire. It went from pretty and soft to down-in-the-floor and grimy, which was fascinating—I loved the diversity of the choreography. NYCDA was awesome: I was third runner-up National Teen Outstanding Dancer, and I got to see tons of old friends and make a bunch of new ones. At The Dance Awards, I gave up my Best Teen Dancer title, which was kind of emotional for me, but the talent there is just incredible. And then at NDT’s workshop, I worked in yet another completely different style. Plus I got to be in Europe for two weeks!
At the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet intensive (photo courtesy Christina Ricucci)
DS: What did you do to get the word out during the CMS voting period?
CR: I posted a lot on my own on social media. But I’m also incredibly thankful for all my friends—they promoted the contest all the time. Even my dad emailed all his work colleagues! Sometimes it was a little weird, because the other finalists and I are super-close, so I felt strange telling people to vote for me. In the end I was just honored to be a part of the process.
DS: What was your favorite part of the CMS experience?
CR: Oh, I’m torn! The photo shoot was a blast. Even though I was a little nervous beforehand, the environment was very chill, which meant I ended up having a great time. But after we saw Cinderella on Broadway, we went on a tour of the theater that brought us out onstage. I was on a Broadway stage! That’s pretty hard to top.
At the Nederlands Dans Theater intensive (photo courtesy Christina Ricucci)
DS: How have you grown since coming to NYC for CMS?
CR: I had to audition a lot at my various summer events, and auditioning like crazy is a great way to grow. You’re constantly trying to show people your best self, which helps you push your dancing to a higher level.
DS: What are your goals for this upcoming year?
CR: I’m in my junior year now, so I’m definitely going to be figuring out college stuff, and trying to set up my life. There will be college tours, for sure. And, of course, I’ll keep training. You have to keep getting better!
Touring Julliard with friend Jake Tribus (photo courtesy Christina Ricucci)
DS: What’s your advice for other CMS hopefuls?
CR: Get your name out there in the dance world. You want people to look at your video and say, “Oh, I recognize her from class,” or, “Oh yeah, I know that girl—she was so nice to me at that convention.” You want people to remember you, and remember your dancing.
I’m thrilled and thankful to be selected
as the Dance Spirit 2014 Cover Model Search winner! I am so humbled by this honor. To everyone who supported me, thank you for your votes and your wonderful words of encouragement, which made the journey so much richer. I am forever blessed.
To my family: Thank you for your love and support. You do so much to help me achieve my dreams. Thank you to my dance teachers who have encouraged me over the years. Also, to the DS editors, photographer Erin Baiano and Broadway Dance Center: Thank you for making my trip to NYC and this entire experience so unforgettable! It has been full of inspiration and wonderful memories. I’m so glad to have shared it with the other finalists, Alyssa Allen and Sarah Pippin—beautiful people and dancers, and my friends. I’m truly happy to have had the opportunity to share my love and passion for dance with you all.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
We also want you to
get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.
Isabella Boylston in "The Bright Stream" (Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy American Ballet Theatre)
Beloved by ballet fans for her lucid technique and onstage effervescence, by her Instagram followers for the deftly curated photos and videos she shares of her glamorous life, and by fangirl Jennifer Garner for all of the above, American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston is one of the rare ballet stars who's achieved mainstream fame. A native of Sun Valley, ID, Boylston trained at the Academy of Colorado Ballet and the Harid Conservatory before joining the ABT Studio Company in 2005. She entered the main company as an apprentice in 2006, and attained principal status in 2014. In addition to her successes with ABT, where she dances nearly every major ballerina role, Boylston has served as artistic director of the annual Ballet Sun Valley Festival, which brings high-level performances and classes to her hometown. And speaking of famous Jennifers: Boylston recently appeared as Jennifer Lawrence's dance double in the film Red Sparrow. Catch her onstage with ABT as Manon, Odette/Odile, and Princess Aurora during the company's Metropolitan Opera House season this summer in NYC. —Margaret Fuhrer