Christina Dooling, 22, is living most dancers’ dream. In 2006, while in her third year at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Christina was handpicked by COMPLEXIONS Contemporary Ballet director Dwight Rhoden to join the company—before she’d even graduated. “Dwight offered me a contract right away,” she says. “The dean of the school was really happy for me. He said, ‘Whenever you’re ready to come back, we’re happy to have you.’”
Now in her second year with COMPLEXIONS, Christina is already garnering soloist roles. A pint-sized powerhouse (she’s just shy of 5'3"), she dances with attack, precision and confidence. She’s equally at home doing Rhoden’s challenging off-center pointework and strutting across the stage in stilettos, as she does in the opening of tHe hArDeSt bUtToN to bUtToN, a hard-rocking contemporary solo choreographed by Abdur-Rahim Jackson.
Christina started dancing at 3 in her hometown of Hamilton, NJ. She went on to study tap, ballet, jazz, acro, pointe and—her favorite style as a teen—lyrical. A successful comp kid, Christina walked away with Petite, Junior and Teen Miss Dance of America at Dance Masters of America.
After high school, Tisch seemed like a great next step. “The curriculum was really challenging. I knew I would have a lot of hurdles, and I absolutely did, but the teachers were amazing,” Christina explains. “Also, I’d never done any modern, so that interested me.” As she tackled this new genre, as well as supplemental courses in anatomy, “things started to click,” she says. “It was a different way to move, but I found my center.” Her modern training has come in handy when performing Rhoden’s signature frenetic, disjointed style, in which classical ballet positions are distorted by popped hips, flexed feet and funky ports de bras.
Even though she’s already gone pro, Christina plans to return to Tisch to complete her degree. “I feel like I’ve changed a lot dancing professionally, and I’m looking forward to taking what I’ve learned back with me,” she says. “But I’m also trying not to get too far ahead of myself. I’m really happy where I am. I’m in my dream company right now.”
On Her iPod: Hot Hot Heat
Guilty Pleasure: Pinkberry
Must-See TV: “Gossip Girl”
Christina in Three Words: “Outgoing, prepared…and FUN!”
Fave Food: Mangoes
Reading: Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead
Hobbies: “I used to be a swimmer, so occasionally I’ll jump in the pool. Besides that, I’m usually either reading, working or watching Disney movies.”
Advice for Young Dancers: “There’s definitely a place for each and every one of you. If you’re dedicated and you love this profession, there are so many companies to explore to find where you fit in. Keep searching and persevere.”
(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.
Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.