Photo by Lee Gumbs, courtesy Tanya Shuckhart

Why You Should Know 12-Year-Old Dance Darling Dyllan Blackburn

Dyllan Blackburn's sweet, low-key personality means she might initially fly under the radar—but once she's onstage, she's undeniably a star. With spectacular control and versatility that would put a chameleon to shame, Dyllan's bound to accomplish her dreams of "touring with famous people, and maybe becoming a choreographer." For now, though, she's plenty busy winning national titles at The Dance Awards and Radix, plus performing as part of the Beat Squad at DancerPalooza.

The best advice I ever received was when Tessandra Chavez told me to just enjoy the process, and not focus my energy on being competitive with others. —Dyllan Blackburn


Fast Facts

Age: 12

Birthday: May 2, 2006

Hometown: Anaheim, CA

Trains at: Project21 in Yorba Linda, CA

Favorite dancer of all time: Lex Ishimoto

Strangest thing in her dance bag: Honey-flavored cough drops

Go-to stress reliever: Taking deep breaths

Dance idol: Chaz Buzan. "He's such a good dancer, and he's really funny and nice. I also like his choreography a lot."


A version of this story appeared in the October 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "You Should Know: Dyllan Blackburn."

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Auditions rarely fail to deliver on suspense. But this? This was the nail-biter to end all nail-biters. Hayoung Roh and Chelsea McCloskey, both professional dancers based in NYC, had made it through what felt like endless rounds of cuts, both on Zoom and in person. Out of the nearly 500 dancers (from 30 states and nine countries) who'd answered the Knicks City Dancers' open call for video submissions, just 20 remained—McCloskey and Roh among them. "We were separated into six holding rooms, where we kept trying to figure out the math," Roh recalls. "How many girls are there in total? Who was called back?"

Finally, the women returned to the audition room to dance one last time—or so they were told. Instead, KCD head coach Alyssa Quezada dropped her bombshell: All 20 women had made the final cut. They would be 2021–22 Knicks City Dancers: the latest and greatest edition of one of the most prestigious NBA dance teams. "It was the biggest celebration and the coolest moment of my dance career so far," says McCloskey now. And that was just the oh-so-perfectly-dramatic beginning.

Chelsea McCloskey stands on her left leg while kicking her right leg up with her arms crossed, a smile on her face. She is auditioning for KCD. Chelsea McCloskey Photo by Tess Mayer


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