It feels impossible to put the magic of Jacalyn Tatro's dancing into words, but "old soul" is a good place to start. With her coiled-spring energy and crystal-clear technique, Jacalyn imbues choreography with a gravity and poignancy you'd expect from a veteran professional dancer, not a rising college freshman.
Anne Forrest, her teacher of 15 years at Inspire School of Dance in Naperville, IL, saw the depth of Jacalyn's artistry right away. "Even when she was 3, she was ahead of the game," Forrest says. "But I really noticed how much talent she has when I started her first solo, at age 6. I'd taught her in class, but was amazed by how fast she picked up the choreography and how naturally performance came to her. And she works so hard for everything."
"Everything" includes netting New York City Dance Alliance's National Outstanding Dancer title as a Mini, Teen, and Senior; wowing at summer intensives at Francisco Gella Dance Works and Complexions Contemporary Ballet; and modeling for dancewear and costume companies—to name just a few highlights. With that resumé, you might be surprised to hear what Jacalyn's proudest of so far: "College auditions," she says. "They're something you work up to. I'm proud of the work I've put out there, knowing my training has gotten me where I am."
Jacalyn's set to enroll at The Juilliard School this fall and isn't taking the summer easy: She's attending two different intensives and two convention Nationals (as usual). On her post-college wish list? Dancing on Broadway, joining a company like Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, diving into the L.A. scene, and, eventually, a choreographic career. "I want to improve and get as much information and experience as possible," she says, "so I can take my career path anywhere that I want."
"There's an innate gift in Jacalyn that allows her to make you feel like 'Yeah, she's been through that.' She's a superstar, like Michael Jackson or Robin Williams. She has their same magic ability to connect to the audience." —Anne Forrest, director of Inspire School of Dance
Birthday: November 17, 1999
Hometown: Naperville, IL
Must-see TV: "One Tree Hill," "The Good Doctor," "Friends"
Choreographers she's dying to work with: Peter Chu, Crystal Pite, Andy Blankenbuehler
Favorite movies:Singin' in the Rain, Chicago, What's Eating Gilbert Grape
Hidden talents: "I can pop my shoulder blade out, and I make really good Donald Duck noises."
Something no one knows about her: "I collect Minnie Mouses! I've been a Disney fan since childhood. Whenever we go to California, we drop in at Disneyland."
Three things she can't live without: "My music, Whole Foods, and matcha"
Gabriel Figueredo in a variation from Raymonda. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.
This week, over 1,000 young hopefuls gathered in New York City for the Youth America Grand Prix finals, giving them the chance to compete for scholarships and contracts to some of the world's top ballet schools and companies. Roughly 85 dancers made it to the final round at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater on Wednesday. Today, the 20th anniversary of YAGP came to a close at the competition's awards ceremony. Read on to find out who won!
After a string of ballet-company rejections, Jennifer Sydor (here in Laura Peterson's "Failure") found success in other areas of the dance world. (Stephen Delas Heras, courtesy Jennifer Sydor)
In her senior year at Butler University, Jennifer Sydor auditioned for more than a dozen regional ballet companies—and got a string of "no, thank you" responses. "I have an athletic build, and my movement quality isn't the typical ballet aesthetic," Sydor says. "But I'd been laser-focused on ballet. When I didn't get a ballet contract, I was heartbroken."
Her one job offer came from Kim Robards Dance, a small modern company based in Aurora, CO. After attending KRD's summer intensive, Sydor ended up accepting a yearlong position with the troupe. "I was relieved and happy to begin my career," she says. She's been working as a contemporary dancer ever since.
In the dance world, rejection is part of the package. That doesn't make it any more pleasant. But whether you didn't get the Nutcracker role of your dreams or you weren't picked for a job despite feeling like you aced the audition, you can emerge from even the most gut-wrenching "no" smarter and stronger.
Ballet West principal Beckanne Sisk as Kitri (Luke Isley, courtesy Ballet West)
Guess who's baaaaack?! Your resident Dance Spirit astrologers! And on the eve of the Youth America Grand Prix awards ceremony, we thought it was the perfect time to pair each zodiac sign with a variation commonly seen during the competition. After many painstaking hours spent researching, consulting the stars, and staring wistfully into the sky, we compiled our data and present you with the definitive list of each star sign as a YAGP variation! As we said last time, don't @ us if you're not happy with your pairing—the stars don't lie, baby!