There's a story Kate Walker, director of dance at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, loves to tell about Emma Sutherland, who just graduated from the program. "We were watching the students run a really long, challenging piece," Walker recalls. "Several kids couldn't quite make it through. But Emma did make it all the way to the end, which is when she walked up to us faculty and very politely asked, 'May I please go throw up?' "
That determination to do the work, no matter what, is just the beginning of what makes Emma extraordinary. "She's a quiet force," says Christy Wolverton-Ryzman, director of Emma's studio, Dance Industry Performing Arts Center. "She's humble and shy in real life, but when she gets onstage, she transforms." The way Emma sees it, her onstage and offstage selves are one and the same. "As a dancer, I hope to be genuine and versatile, so you can see everything I've worked to be," she explains. "I don't want to just be someone with technique who can throw a leg around."
Emma's list of accomplishments is already seriously impressive: A 2019 YoungArts Winner in modern dance and 2019 Presidential Scholar in the Arts, she has attended summer intensives at Juilliard and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; received a $10,000 stipend from the Texas Commission on the Arts as a Texas Young Master; and won Junior and Teen Best Dancer at The Dance Awards. Up next?
Her freshman year at USC Kaufman, where her innate sense of musicality, envy-inducing facility, and exquisite lines are sure to make her a standout. Emma also hopes to continue exploring choreography, which she's already proved to be a natural at: Her first-ever piece, created for a senior choreographic project at Booker T., was selected to be performed at an AIDS-research benefit in Fort Worth, TX, this past spring.
Whatever her (surely bright) future in dance holds, Emma's most excited about continuing to learn the craft. "What excites me most are the moments onstage when it's something nobody in the audience has seen before," she says. "It's fascinating to see how much there is within dance to explore."
"One of the things I value most about Emma is her consistency. There's never a doubt that she'll give you an incredibly solid performance. She's already working at a professional level." —Kate Walker, director of dance at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
Photo by Erin Baiano
Birthday: March 2, 2001
Hometown: Frisco, TX
Three words to describe her: "I hope to be compassionate, kind, and hardworking."
Three words to describe her dancing: "dynamic," "powerful," "authentic"
Favorite choreographers of all time: Crystal Pite, Aszure Barton, Mark Caserta, Mikey Morado
Hogwarts house: "I'm mostly Hufflepuff, with a little bit of Gryffindor."
Must-see TV shows: "Friends" and "The Office"
Favorite day-off activity: "I love being outside in nature, going on bike rides with my brother or on walks with my dog."
Advice to DS readers: "Constantly explore and experiment. I learn the most when I'm uncomfortable. It's a hard thing to realize, but you'll find so much growth in it."