When I was 3, I told my mom that I wanted to be a ballerina. She thought I just wanted a tutu, so she made me one—but she quickly discovered I was serious! Two years later I started taking ballet classes, and I've been dancing ever since. During high school I attended summer programs at the Chautauqua Institution and Boston Ballet, and performed with a youth ballet company. Bad knees kept me from auditioning for professional groups, so I ended up at Princeton University, where I discovered choreography (and hip hop!) in a fantastic student-run dance troupe, diSiac Dance Company. College was also where I fell in love with writing. After graduation I pursued a master's degree in journalism as part of New York University's Cultural Reporting and Criticism program (where I met my idol, New Yorker dance writer Joan Acocella). Now I'm lucky enough to be combining all of my passions at Dance Spirit.
Olivia Manno, Assistant Editor
Photo by Lucas Chilczuk
I was 4 years old when my mom thought it would be a good idea to put me on a pony rather than in a dance class. 18 years later, I have no regrets—I had an incredible competitive horseback riding career—but the itch to dance never really disappeared. So, instead of attempting an art form that takes a lifetime to master (not to mention some serious natural ability), I decided to admire dance as a spectator and a student. Attending New York University as a fine arts major was especially eye-opening. There was so, so much amazing dance within NYC. I started going to New York City Ballet and to shows at the Joyce Theater as much as possible, and was lucky enough to witness works of every dance genre by some insanely talented student-choreographers at NYU. Now I'm reading and writing about dance all day, and I couldn't be more excited!
Helen Rolfe, Assistant Editor
Photo by Erin Baiano
Because she knew I'd end up tall (I'm just over 5'10"), my mom thought I should learn to stand up straight and wear my height with pride. So she put me in a combination ballet/tap class when I was 4—and I hated it right off the bat. Everything changed a few years later, when I realized working hard meant improved technique and—even better—time in the spotlight! I tackled every style I could get my hands on in my hometown of Norfolk, VA, and on weekend trips to D.C. and NYC. During high school, I trained in musical theater at the Governor's School for the Arts and spent summers at the Rockettes Summer Intensive, Ballet Chicago and Interlochen Arts Camp before moving to NYC to model professionally. After four years studying Japanese, dance and philosophy at Connecticut College, I'm thrilled to be living my dance-writing dreams in the greatest city in the world. (Yes, that was a Hamilton reference!)
Amanda Sherwin, Assistant Managing Editor
Photo by Dirty Sugar Photography
After baby me spent several months glued to the window at my older sister's dance classes, my mom finally decided to let me join in, and I've been hooked on dance ever since. I grew up a classic #compkid, performing and competing with my dance team throughout Florida and spending my summers training at Broadway Dance Center, where I fell in love with all things NYC. So I was ecstatic to move to the Big Apple, first to study dance and journalism at Marymount Manhattan College, and then to train full-time in BDC's Professional Semester program. Now, it's a dream come true to be writing about my #1 passion—and even cooler to be working for the magazine I grew up reading!
(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.