Photo by Erin Baiano

Darriel Johnakin is Your 2019 Cover Model Search Winner!

From the moment we saw Darriel Johnakin flash a million-watt smile while nailing a textbook tilt at her Cover Model Search photo shoot this spring, we knew she'd go far in the dance world. Now, having crossed "Dance Spirit Cover Model Search winner" off her bucket list, Darriel's back to doing what she does best: logging long hours in the studio, polishing her technique, applying her teachers' corrections, and trying to be a little bit better than she was yesterday.


Darriel brought this attitude with her to NYC. We were blown away by her humility, especially as we watched her shine in class at Broadway Dance Center. Her movements were seamless, her extensions and jumps jaw-dropping, her focus unparalleled. And as thousands of votes and social media shares poured in during the contest, it became clear that Darriel's work ethic was super-inspirational to her peers, as well.

Now a sophomore in Pace University's commercial dance program, Darriel caught us up on her whirlwind summer—and what's next.

What have you been up to since your trip to NYC?

In addition to officially finishing my freshman year of college, I had the opportunity to perform at the Coretta Scott King Book Awards with fellow Pace commercial program dancers. I also had the chance to dance in a film choreographed by Martha Nichols, which premieres soon, so stay tuned! I was in NYC during New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, where I volunteered at the Pace recruitment booth during the college fair. I wrapped up my summer at Contemporary Now, an intensive created by the amazing Jenn Freeman, with Peter Chu on faculty.

Photo by Erin Baiano

What was your favorite part of the Cover Model Search?

I absolutely loved meeting the other finalists, experiencing a professional photo shoot, and meeting the super-fun Dance Spirit staff.

What was your voting campaign strategy?

Post, post, post! I posted on Instagram every day to remind people to vote. I also made pins, and it was fun to see people walking around town wearing them.

What are you looking forward to this year?

I'm so excited to be a sophomore and be with my Pace family! I really can't wait to see what new opportunities arise this year.

What advice do you have for future Cover Model Search finalists?

Just try to live in the moment, make tons of new friends, and always smile!

Photo by Erin Baiano

Dear readers,

This has been an amazing opportunity and I can't thank you all enough. First, to the staff at Dance Spirit for selecting me as a Cover Model Search finalist: You all are really genuine and loving people. Second, to my partners in this journey, Emma and Diego: I'm hoping for a lifetime of friendship. Thanks to everyone who supported me by voting, sharing, and just getting the word out—my friends, my family, and strangers, too. Lastly, thanks to my mom, the No. 1 dance mom and cheerleader, for campaigning for me.

Love you guys,
Dari

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Intern at Dance Spirit This Summer!

Are you a college student curious about what goes on behind the scenes at your favorite magazine? You're in luck—because Dance Spirit is searching for an editorial intern for summer 2020!

We'll be accepting applications through March 1. Internships pay an hourly stipend and require a minimum two-day-a-week, onsite commitment in our NYC office from June to August. (We do not provide assistance securing housing.)

If you're interested, please send a cover letter, resumé and two writing samples to Margaret Fuhrer at mfuhrer@dancemedia.com. Be sure to put "Summer Internship Application" in the subject line. All attachments must be formatted as PDFs.

We will interview selected candidates in March in person or by phone, and let candidates know by mid-April if they have been chosen. Please note that we do not accept high school students, or any students under 18, and that we give preference to college juniors and seniors.

We can't wait to meet you!

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