Olivia Rehrman

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.

Fast Facts

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

Dancer to Dancer
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to 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.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

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