In a scene overflowing with contemporary dancers, Olivia Rehrman is a rarity: her focus is traditional jazz. “I have clean lines and my movement is strong but flowy,” Olivia says. “Jazz suits me.” Onstage, she may be lifted during a series of pirouettes and then suddenly throw herself to the floor before popping back up to her feet and delivering a mischievous grin to the audience.
Olivia, 20, started dancing in preschool, when her mom enrolled her in tap and ballet. She switched studios regularly, trying to find the perfect fit near her hometown of Atlanta, GA, and eventually ended up at Dance Arts Centre, a jazz-focused school. She moved in seventh grade when her dad’s job took her family to McKinney, TX, where she continued to train at various studios, including Academy of Dance Arts.
As a senior in high school, Olivia was named a 2009 YoungArts finalist, a prestigious honor, which led to an opportunity to work with choreographer Bill T. Jones as part of an HBO special documentary series called “Masterclass.” The YoungArts honor also helped Olivia finalize her post-graduation plans. Finalists spend a week in Miami taking master classes and workshops, and giving performances. While there, Olivia met other dancers who were planning to attend college. “When I saw my very talented peers wanting a degree,” she says, “it confirmed that college was a smart decision.”
In high school, Olivia spent her summers at the Arizona Jazz Dance Showcase at the University of Arizona, where she is now a sophomore dance major. “I was drawn to Arizona because it’s not a conservatory,” she says of the highly selective school. “The dance program is run like a company.” The schedule is rigorous, but she loves it. “I can’t wait to go to class every day,” she says. Her dedication has paid off: She was selected to assist choreographer Liz Imperio at last year’s Jazz Showcase.
This summer, Olivia will apprentice with River North Chicago Dance Company, an opportunity offered to her solely upon the recommendation of her teacher—she didn’t even audition. Eventually Olivia would like to be a member of a touring jazz or contemporary ballet company. “I want to be able to see the world before I settle down somewhere,” she says.
Birthday: February 18, 1991
Signature dance move: Pirouettes. “On a good day I can do eight.”
Dance crush: Desmond Richardson. “He has a hot bod! And he’s an amazing dancer.”
On her iPod: “I’ve recently become obsessed with oldies—I’m really into Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and Ben E. King.”
Favorite food: “My mom’s macaroni and cheese”
Favorite book:Eat, Pray, Love
Favorite movies:Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club
(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.