Dance Spirit Presents: Isabella Torres' First NYCDA Nationals
This Nationals season, Dance Spirit followed four talented dancers from The Dance Awards, NYCDA, Showstopper, and Starpower for an inside look at everything that goes into the biggest competitions of the year. First up: Isabella Torres from Mid-Atlantic Center for the Performing Arts in Baltimore, MD, who competed at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals for the first time this year. (All photos courtesy Shannon Torres.)
June 28, 2017
Today was the last day at my studio, Mid-Atlantic Center for the Performing Arts (MCPA), in Baltimore, MD, before leaving for NYCDA. I took a ballet class and rehearsed a little. It's the beginning of a great experience!
June 29, 2017
I made it to NYC! After I arrived, all the Junior Outstanding Dancers picked numbers. I got #5 out of 140, and I was hoping for a higher number but I'll make it work. After that, we had an orientation meeting—we start dancing at 7:30 AM tomorrow, so it'll be an early wakeup!
In the ballroom!
Hitting the classic NYCDA pose
June 30, 2017
Today's Junior Outstanding Dancer day! I had a 4:30 AM wakeup call, and a 7:30 AM stage time. I tried my best to not let my exhaustion show, even after make-up, hair, warming up, and even more warming up!
5 more minutes!
July 1-2, 2017
Today we had our Outstanding Dancer ballet class audition and solo presentations. I danced the Kitri variation, and was super happy to be awarded 6th out of over 150 entries. After, I had time to fit in a trip to Starbucks and shopping at Capezio—an essential stop for dancers.
Prepping my look for Kitri!
Always have to stretch!
Hanging out in the Capezio store
July 3, 2017
We had our group competition today. After, I had a lot of fun at M&M World in Times Square with my MCPA family.
July 4, 2017
Class today was amazing—The Radio City Rockettes taught a class, and I took hip hop from Dana Wilson. (Catch me rocking my newly discovered skills during Dana's class, near the front!) Later in the day, we explored NYC more, and then ate some delicious pizza as we waited for the junior awards to be announced.
July 6, 2017
Today was the junior gala, which was an unforgettable experience—I even made a great new friend, Abby Trammel. Meeting and connecting with new people is a great part of Nationals. We were lucky enough to have Andy Pellick choreograph our gala routine, and it was great to have him pushing us in rehearsals all week.
As the gala performance came to a close, it was time to announce the Junior Outstanding Dancer awards. I made it into the top 12, out of 154 dancers. I was so happy, since it was my first NYCDA Nationals and I had no idea what to expect. I loved the whole experience, from spending time with my MCPA family, making and learning from mistakes, to making new friends, and learning from incredible teachers.
Abby and me before the gala!
July 7, 2017
The Teen and Senior Outstanding Dancer gala was tonight, and the talent was amazing. The cast of the Broadway hit,
Bandstand, performed, and it only got more incredible from there. We were all tired from the week, but we didn't want the adventure to end. I'm so thankful to NYCDA for supporting my love for dance. Even though a lot is about to change, with friends going to summer camp and fellow studio members heading off to college, I can't wait to see what new dance adventures next season will bring.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
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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.