Photo by Erin Baiano

2018 Cover Model Search Finalist Shelby Patterson

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Shelby Patterson can command a stage with a single look. That fierce presence, plus her laser-sharp focus and ball-of-fire energy, have made her a standout in both the contemporary and commercial worlds. "I'm always performing out to the audience," Shelby says. "People say things like, 'Oh, that's the Shelby face—she's in the zone.' "

And she's got the technique to back up that onstage confidence. Shelby started training in several styles at age 3 at Orange County Performing Arts Academy. She grew up as a classic comp kid, constantly competing and attending conventions. At 12, she got even more serious about her training, adding classes at the Dmitri Kulev Classical Ballet Academy to her busy schedule, and later she joined the prestigious pre-professional contemporary group Westside Dance Project. In 2016 alone, she won Radix Dance Convention's National Teen Core Performer title, was a Top 10 Teen Finalist at The Dance Awards, and was a Pulse Protégé winner. And this past June, she graduated from the Orange County School of the Arts—as co-valedictorian of the commercial dance conservatory. NBD.

Shelby dreams of a career that includes both commercial and contemporary dance, and she's open about what that path might look like. "So many people tell me you have to choose one," she says. "But, honestly, I'm really passionate about both realms. I don't want to limit myself." Whatever route she ends up taking, one thing's certain: She'll put her whole heart into anything that comes her way. "I care a lot," she says. "Dance is how I show who I am. If someone meets me, but they haven't seen me dance yet, they can't fully grasp who Shelby is."

"Shelby is an incredible young artist with beautiful technique, impeccable musicality, and a nuance and quality that makes her stand out in a sea of amazing dancers. Above all, she's a grounded and kind young woman, which is the most important." —Stacey Tookey, choreographer

Fast Facts

Birthday: March 31, 2000

Hometown: Yorba Linda, CA

Dance crush: Will Johnston

Favorite choreographers: Stacey Tookey, Travis Wall, Tyce Diorio

Favorite food: Lentil soup

If she could have a superpower, it'd be… "Either being like Elastigirl, super-flexible, or the power to never have sore muscles."

Her dancing in three words: Dynamic, genuine, powerful

Nicknames: Tubby or Bangs. "Tubby, because I danced with Alyssa Allen, and one day she accidentally called me Tubby. It just kind of stuck and now everyone calls me that. And Bangs because I've had them ever since I was in fifth grade, so everyone knows me as the girl with the bangs."

Something no one knows about her: "When I was in elementary school, I played Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

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A Letter from the Editor in Chief

Hi, dance friends. It is a strange time to be a person in the world, and an especially strange time to be a dancer. As the dance community faces the coronavirus crisis, a lot of you are coping with closed studios, canceled performances and competitions, and a general sense of anxiety about how your world will look going forward.

Yes, dancers are super resilient, and there's been a lot of inspiring community-building happening. #LivingRoomDances and Instagram dance parties and virtual ballet classes with the pros are wonderful. Dance can, and should, be a bright spot in the darkness. But that weird, empty feeling you have? It might be grief. The loss of the certainty of daily class, the loss of the promise of that big end-of-year performance—that's real. The dance studio has always been a safe place; it's especially hard not to have that outlet now, when you need it most.

We're here for you. We—and our friends at Dance Magazine, Pointe, Dance Teacher, The Dance Edit, and Dance Business Weekly—are doing our best to document the hurdles facing the dance industry, and to advocate for dancers in need. We're developing more online content that will help you maintain and improve your technique while you're at home, and process the mental and emotional fallout of all this upheaval. (You can keep up with the latest stories here.) And we're still making our print magazine. We have issues planned and shot, full of great dance stories and beautiful photos. We're not going anywhere.

We want to hear from you. Talk to us. Or dance to us. Or both. We won't stop moving, and you shouldn't, either.


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