The Dirt with Adji Cissoko

Adji Cissoko landed a job in the corps of the National Ballet of Canada at age 19, after spending only one year at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre. Four years later, the 5’ 9” native of Munich, Germany, has made another bold move: Cissoko recently joined Alonzo King LINES Ballet. You can catch her on tour with LINES this month in Virginia and Connecticut, and in November, the company will present King’s Rasa during its home season in San Francisco, CA. Want to know what makes this ballerina tick? Read on for The Dirt.

(Cody Chen, Courtesy LINES Ballet)

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I speak five languages.

What’s your favorite city in the world?

New York City.

What’s one thing you can’t live without?

Sparkling water.

What’s your favorite dance movie?

Center Stage.

What’s your dream role?

Odette/Odile in Swan Lake.

What’s the most challenging thing about touring with the company?

Packing my suitcase...I always seem to over pack.

What’s your advice for Dance Spirit readers?

Don't ever forget how amazing it feels to just dance and don't get caught up in trying to please or impress others.

Dancer to Dancer
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

Cover Model Search
Photo by Erin Baiano

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?

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Photo by Erin Baiano

Click here to vote for Emma.

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?' "

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