Larsen performing her solo at Showstopper American Dance Championships (David Hofmann)
You’ve probably seen the dance-centric Microsoft Surface commercial directed by Jon M. Chu—it stars a handful of our favorite dance celebs. But it’s a little schoolgirl with red pigtails who really stands out among the talented bunch: Larsen Thompson. Watching Larsen perform, it’s clear she has all the polish, pizzazz and presence of a professional hip-hop dancer who’s been in the game for years. But once she speaks, her soft, youthful voice reminds you she’s just 12 years old. “When I’m older, I want to dance with Britney Spears or Rihanna,” says the ambitious up-and-comer.
That day may not be as far off as she thinks. To date, she’s already danced and acted in commercials for Walmart, Target, Nintendo and McDonald’s. She’s also danced backup on “The X Factor” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” (Larsen was in the dance studio segment with tWitch, Sophia Grace and Rosie!) “I started dancing when I was 4,” Larsen says. “I would do handstands and these little grooves. My mom thought I would like dance. I’ve loved dancing ever since.”
Today, Larsen spends 20 to 30 hours a week taking dance classes. She trains at various studios around L.A. (including Millennium Dance Complex, International Dance Academy of Hollywood and Academy of Dance Westlake Village), often commuting more than an hour from her home in Newbury Park, CA. “I’ll be at the studio until 11 pm sometimes, so it can be hard,” she says. “I take classes on the weekend, but Fridays are mostly free, so that’s when I hang out with my friends. They’re always looking at me like I’m crazy because I do all of this.”
“All of this” on a typical day might also include meeting with her agent at Clear Talent Group or wearing a stuffed Luigi costume for a Nintendo commercial. For Larsen, getting noticed at auditions means turning on her hard-hitting dance moves, fiery personality and acrobatic prowess. “I usually throw in a trick or two and do some flips,” says Larsen, whose mom was a gymnastics coach and whose aunt is Olympic gold medalist Julianne McNamara.
Though it’s tempting for Larsen to do only hip-hop all the time, she’s dedicated to continuing ballet training in order to better her technique. “Sometimes ballet gets boring, but I know skipping even one day could bring my level down,” she says. “And if I ever had to go a week without dancing? I couldn’t live like that. Whenever I go to dance class and I’ve had a bad day, it just goes away because I move through it all. Dancing is my life.”
Birthday: November 19, 2000
Most-played on her iPod: Beyoncé
Strangest thing in her dance bag: Stinky shoes
Dance idol: Mollee Gray, from “So You Think You Can Dance”
Dream dance role: Elite Protégé for The PULSE On Tour
Three words that describe her: “Perfectionist, funny, fashionista”