These days, everyone seems to know just how talented Christina Ricucci is. She has more than 91,000 Instagram followers. For six years in a row, she competed at Youth America Grand Prix, and made it to the finals each time. Last summer, Christina won Teen Best Dancer at The Dance Awards and was named first runner-up National Teen Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance. Oh, and she was accepted to The Juilliard School’s summer program—despite technically being a year too young to apply. It seems the only person who may not realize the depth of her talent is the ultra-modest Christina Ricucci herself. Perhaps that’s because no matter how many awards she wins, 15-year-old Christina always wants to do more, work harder, get better—and, most importantly, keep having fun.
Christina started competing with her studio, California Dancer, at just 4 years old, with song-and-dance solos. “I’d tap around the stage, and then take breaks to sing,” she says, laughing. When she was 9, she decided to amp up her training and moved to Murrieta Dance Project in Murrieta, CA, where she still dances today. “It brought my dancing to a different level right away,” she says—even though it took her a while to get used to the competition-dance style. “Before, I hadn’t practiced turning very much. At Murrieta, there’s an hour-long turns class. I like not being good at something and working for it. When you get it, that means you’ve grown.”
Today, Christina also takes classes at Dmitri Kulev Classical Ballet Academy. That hard-core technical training is evident when she performs: Christina’s every move is impeccably turned out and extended to the farthest corners of the studio. She’s been home-schooled since sixth grade, which allows her to dance all day during the week—in addition to singing, acting and modeling (quadruple-threat alert!)—and travel to conventions on weekends. “I used to be intimidated by the competition world,” she says. “But competitions teach you to perform onstage, under pressure, in front of so many people and judges. You learn discipline and self-confidence.”
Needless to say, the discipline is paying off. Christina says winning Best Teen Dancer last summer was “a dream come true.” As for the future? Juilliard’s summer intensive is just the beginning. Christina says that’s now her dream college, and she’d love to pursue the concert-dance world and someday join Shaping Sound.
“Christina is kind, humble and selfless. She has inspired so many young artists. I love that she’s still surprised when someone recognizes her or asks for her autograph. It makes me smile knowing that she dances because it’s in her soul, and no amount of fame or any award will change that.” —Erin Babbs, owner/director of Murrieta Dance Project
Birthday: September 5, 1998
What she’s listening to right now: Lorde and Beyoncé
Who would play her in a movie? Dakota Fanning. “Everyone says she looks just like me.”
Favorite actress: Jennifer Lawrence
Favorite movie: The Hunger Games
Must-see TV shows: “America’s Next Top Model” and “Cake Boss”
Favorite dancer of all time: Sylvie Guillem
Dance crush: Travis Wall. “My friends and I are kind of obsessed.”
Favorite food: Grapes
Hidden talents: “I can wiggle my ears and I play the guitar.”
If she could be a superhero, her power would be: “I would be invisible so I could play tricks on people…like my brother. I think about this a lot.”