Mishay Petronelli in Dana Foglia's "Cy.clo.thy.mi.a." Photo by Zach Zealand.
Mishay Petronelli demands your attention. It might be the electric energy radiating from her petite, muscular frame. Or maybe it’s the way she plunges into the music, filling every nook and cranny with sinewy, sensual movement. One thing’s for sure: It’s impossible to take your eyes off her.
Mishay, 24, didn’t start dancing until she was 12. It was only after seeing her friends dance that she discovered her natural ability. “I would go to a nearby studio and watch their classes,” the Ohio native says. “When I got home, I’d show my mom the combos that I’d learned in my head.” She started taking classes soon after—everything from ballet to hip hop to tap—and threw herself into the competition and convention scene. After high school, Mishay spent eight months dancing on a cruise ship, but she soon realized she didn’t belong on the water; she belonged on a larger stage.
In 2006, Mishay moved to NYC, where she began an intense training regimen (which she continues today) under teachers like Rhapsody, Dana Foglia and Jared Grimes, while auditioning for commercial work in NYC and L.A. “Since coming to the city, I’ve grown so much,” she says. “The students, the teachers, the different styles—they’ve changed me completely.”
Mishay isn’t just a well-rounded dancer—she’s a chameleon. Hip hop, contemporary, ballet, commercial, tap: She does it all. The musicality of tap seeps into her contemporary; the dynamism of her contemporary makes her untouchable in a hip-hop combo. And all of this makes her a choreographer’s dream.
Mishay has performed in Whitney Houston’s music video for “Million Dollar Bill,” on “Saturday Night Live” with Kanye West and in Dana Foglia’s shows VATIC and Cy.clo.thy.mi.a. But she’s not just shooting for commercial superstardom. “I would love to dance with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet or Nederlands Dans Theater, or maybe even on Broadway. I want to do it all!” she says. And with her magnetic energy and loveable personality, she probably will.
Birthday: January 4, 1987
Favorite book: The Little Prince
Must-see TV show: “30 Rock”
Must-see movies: The September Issue and Love Actually
Most-played on her iPod: CocoRosie
Dance idol: Benoit-Swan Pouffer
Favorite day-off activity: Sleep!
Who would play her in a movie: Reese Witherspoon