From Degrassi: The Next Generation to the American Mall
Canadian export Nina Dobrev spent her own high school years at Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts in Ontario. But the 19-year-old first caught America’s attention when she landed a leading role on “Degrassi:The Next Generation” as Mia Jones. This past August she busted onto the small screen again and showed off her dancing chops in The American Mall on MTV. In the made-for-TV movie, Nina starred as Ally, a sweet songwriter faced with some tough times but is (as she says in her big number) a survivor! DS talked to the multitalented actress to get the inside story. —Ariel White
DS: What was the training process like? ND: It was crazy: We had four weeks of dancers’ boot camp and then rehearsal from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for three weeks.
DS: What was your favorite piece of choreography? ND: “Survivor.” It was definitely a challenge; I had to be in really high heels! At the same time, nothing is fun for me unless it’s a challenge.
DS: Did “Survivor,” the song about overcoming obstacles, hold any special meaning for you? ND: I’m a pretty independent person and I’ve gone through some hard things. At the end you’ve got to remember that you can get through anything.
DS: What was your dance background before The American Mall? ND: I’ve been dancing pretty much all my life. When I was little I did ballet and jazz and competed in rhythmic gymnastics, too. Plus we took a lot of dance at Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts.
DS: Do you plan on doing other musicals, both on TV and stage? ND: I’d love to! The whole thing was amazing, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
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.
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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.