A Prodigy Grows Up

Miko Fogarty doesn’t buckle under pressure. Competing at the Moscow International Ballet Competition, one of the most prestigious dance events in the world? No sweat. Dealing when, en route to that competition, the airline loses her luggage, leaving her stranded with little more than her pointe shoes? Not a problem. Coping after the live orchestra botches her music during the same competition’s final round? All in a day’s work. Through everything, Miko kept her cool with the self-assurance of a seasoned professional—and ended up winning the gold medal.

Of course, it wasn’t just her level head that earned her the 2013 Moscow IBC’S top prize. Miko has pirouettes and extension to spare, though she avoids flash in favor of pristine classicism. Her turns are musical and perfectly placed, her développés beautifully controlled. Her confidence and artistic maturity make you forget she’s still a teenager.

Miko’s passionate commitment to ballet first turned heads in the 2011 Youth America Grand Prix documentary First Position, filmed when Miko was just 12. Since then, she’s blossomed into an artist, winning medals—and fans—around the globe. She’s handled it all with poise, allowing the world into her whirlwind life through her website, social media and various dancewear endorsements. As a result, she’s achieved a level of fame most professional dancers only dream of. This spring, as 17-year-old Miko auditions for companies, all eyes will be watching to see where she ends up.

(Photo by Nathan Sayers)

The Determined Competitor

Born in London, Miko is part Swiss, part British and part Japanese. But she’s really a California girl: Her family moved to Berkeley, CA, when she was 2. At 4 she started taking ballet—and instantly decided to become a dancer. “Even at my preschool graduation I was saying, ‘When I grow up, I want to be a ballerina,’ ” she says.

By age 11, she was training every day with Viktor Kabaniaev at the Diablo Ballet Apprentice Program and attending summer programs at the Royal Ballet School in London. In seventh grade, she traded public school for homeschooling to accommodate her busy ballet schedule. That’s also when she started competing more frequently. “Some people don’t like competitions, but they’ve been really beneficial for me,” Miko says. “You can meet people and network, and they’re also good for stage experience and learning how to handle nerves.”

During the 2009 YAGP finals in NYC, a filmmaker named Bess Kargman popped into the theater just as Miko took the stage. Miko’s strong performance inspired Kargman to direct First Position, a documentary that follows seven contestants as they prepare for YAGP—and she asked Miko (and Miko’s younger brother, Jules) to be in it.

It took two years for First Position to make it to theaters. But once the film dropped, Miko became something of a celebrity. “I’d be somewhere random—at an airport or on a bus—and someone would say, ‘Are you from that dance film?’ ” she says. “It was kind of cool, because even some professional dancers knew about me!” And her success on the competition scene in the wake of the film earned her even more fans. Since turning 15, Miko has scooped up the gold in Moscow, won silver and bronze medals at two Varna International Ballet Competitions and earned the Best Swiss Candidate at the 2013 Prix de Lausanne.

The Dedicated Student

Shortly after the film came out, Miko and her mother moved to Indianapolis, IN, so Miko could study at the Indiana Ballet Conservatory, a Vaganova-based school she discovered during a YAGP regional competition. (Her dad and brother stayed behind in California.) “I was looking for a female coach and realized that there were some really good teachers in Indiana,” she says, noting that faculty members Tatiana Pali, Alyona Yakovleva-Randall and Alexei Moskalenko have helped her polish her technique. Miko also spends one month each year training with Japanese teacher Jinushi Kaoru while visiting her grandmother in Osaka, Japan.

While Miko has been offered opportunities to attend large company schools, she’s made a conscious choice to complete her training in Indiana. “I wouldn’t have had as many performance opportunities if I’d gone to a larger school,” she says. “Plus, I get a lot more individualized attention here, which has helped me improve faster.”

These days, Miko’s schedule is packed with schoolwork, technique classes and rehearsals for competitions or performances. “It’s rare to find someone so passionate so young,” says Pali, noting that Miko often comes in on her own time to practice. “Because of her pure desire to thrive, she’ll work and work until she gets it right.”

(Photo by Nathan Sayers)

The Social Media Maven

Like any 17-year-old, Miko is pretty much addicted to her smartphone. But her social media savvy has actually given her career a huge boost. “At first I used to just post pictures of my life,” she says. “Then I started getting a lot of followers because of the movie and my YouTube channel. Now I use Instagram to connect with them—I message a lot of people back.” Miko divvies up social media responsibilities with her mom, posting to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook while her mother manages her YouTube channel. “To have a voice in the world is really cool,” she says. “I like being able to show ballet to other teenagers who may not have experienced it.”

Recently, she’s gone beyond social media to connect with fans, launching her own website, mikofogarty.com, and signing endorsement deals with Gaynor Minden, Discount Dance Supply and Cloud & Victory. “During photo shoots I always try to keep her from pushing too hard,” says C&V owner Min Tan. “But she’s a perfectionist! She comes in with a great attitude and wants to make sure she nails it. That speaks volumes about the type of person she is.”

The Aspiring Professional

As for company auditions, Miko has her eyes on Europe—though she’s still weighing her options. “I really like the choreographers over there,” she says. “And it intrigues me how much art is part of the larger culture.” She’s planning to meet with company directors at the Prix de Lausanne this summer.

Chances are, those directors are well aware of her already. “She’d be an asset to any company,” Pali says. “She’s talented and hard-working enough to be a leading ballerina.”

Where Does She Get Those Gorgeous Tutus?

Miko’s tutus are handmade in Japan by Ishida Costume. “I absolutely love their designs,” she says. “They’re amazing at ombré styles.”

Fast Facts

Birthday: May 23, 1997

Favorite food: mangoes, either frozen or dried. “I also really like natto, which is from Japan. It’s fermented soybeans that you mix with soy sauce. A lot of Western people hate it—my dad can’t stand it—but I can’t get enough!”

Weirdest food she’s ever eaten: “We ate roasted grasshoppers when we were on vacation in Mexico. They were pretty nasty.”

Favorite way to unwind: “When I go back to California, my dad and I always go camping, which is really relaxing.”

Dance idols: Her list includes Uliana Lopatkina, Alina Cojocaru, Sylvie Guillem and Marianela Nuñez. But she admires all kinds of dancers, not just stars. “If someone’s just loving what they’re doing or helping other people, that really inspires me.”

Dream role: Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty. “That was the ballet that inspired me to dance when I was 4. I love the music so much. Plus, Aurora was my favorite Disney princess.”

Three must-have items on a desert island: her phone (and access to WiFi, of course), sunscreen and a hat

Gala-vanting

Miko has been lucky enough to perform at galas in Japan, Peru, Taiwan, Moscow and Bulgaria, as well as all over the U.S. Dancing alongside some of the ballet world’s biggest stars, she says, is a total thrill—and an invaluable learning experience. “It’s fascinating to see how different professional dancers prepare and perform their pieces,” she says. “I find it really inspiring and educational—and it makes me fall in love with ballet all over again.”

The Conversation
Cover Story

When Hannahlei Cabanilla rolled up to her Dance Spirit cover shoot—just 36 hours after being named the "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 15 champion—she looked impossibly fresh-faced and well-rested. The Anaheim Hills, CA, native may have had "about eight blisters," as she joked, on her feet; she may barely have slept since the big win; and she may have just performed on "Live with Kelly and Ryan." But she jumped right on set, and quite literally didn't stop jumping for the next five hours. The fabulous technique, irresistible personality, and (especially) boundless energy that earned her the title of America's Favorite Dancer were all on full display.

So what was it actually like for Hannahlei to compete on the show she'd watched since she was a tiny dancer—and what's next for the now–19-year-old? Read on.

Keep reading... Show less

It's time to do your favorite happy dance because it's the most wonderful time of the year! The holidays are almost here, which means we can finally start dancing to Christmas music! With Just For Kix, you can easily dress the part for this holiday season.

Black Friday is starting early! Spend $100 and you will get a $50 gift card. What are you waiting for? Head over to www.justforkix.com and get the shopping started!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News

There's nothing like pint-size performers to remind us how much we have to be grateful for, and thanks to this week's performances on "Dancing with the Stars: Juniors," we have a few more things to add to the list. The theme for this week was "Giving Thanks" and these young dancers embodied gratitude as they each dedicated their routine to people who have inspired them. The sweetest part about these dedications was watching the stars dedicate their dances to their families—we're all about showin' the love to your tribe, especially when you can show it on the dance floor.

Keep reading... Show less

This year, do not miss out on the world's most prestigious dance competition! Every dance competition offers a different experience. At Showstopper, they make it their top priority that your competition experience is unmatched. Here are just a few reasons why Showstopper is uniquely the best…

Keep reading... Show less
Dear Katie
Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morgan

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

I'm bowlegged, which I didn't think was a big deal, but now that I'm a more advanced dancer, I'm self-conscious about it—especially in first position, where it's really obvious. Is there anything I can do to camouflage my bow legs? Will I end up injured?

Cami

Keep reading... Show less
Giveaways

It's contest time! You could win your choice of Apolla Shocks (up to 100 pairs) for your whole studio! Apolla Performance believes dancers are Artists AND Athletes—wearing Apolla Shocks helps you be both! Apolla Shocks are footwear for dancers infused with sports science technology while maintaining a dancer's traditions and lines. They provide support, protection, and traction that doesn't exist anywhere else for dancers, helping them dance longer and stronger. Apolla wants to get your ENTIRE studio protected and supported in Apolla Shocks! How? Follow these steps:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Videos
Jillian Vanstone and Joe Chapman in The Dream. (Karolina Kuras, courtesy National Ballet of Canada)

Next weekend, the National Ballet of Canada will perform The Dream, Frederick Ashton's 1964 one-act version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Y'all know that dancing the roles of fairies, mischievous sprites, and star-crossed lovers is all in a typical day's work for professional ballet dancers. What's less typical for the three male dancers who perform as Bottom, the bumbling rustic who gets turned into a donkey? Dancing en pointe.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Videos

Choreographing is hard enough on its own, but add a two-hour time limit and two dancers from completely different genres, and the task of creating a dance can seem almost impossible.However, street dancer K-Flow and ballerina Toi'ya prove such a task to be possible, even if it's challenging. In this mesmerizing video, the two find ways to adapt their style of dance to the other's, which results in a completely stunning duet.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for Fun

Colder weather is (finally) here, which means it's time for a good dance movie binge. But which iconic films should you put on? To narrow your search, we went ahead and ranked 30 of the greatest dance movies of all time.

Of course, we know a list like this is bound to be controversial—so if you disagree with our lineup, have at it in the comments!

Keep reading... Show less
Cover Story

When Hannahlei Cabanilla rolled up to her Dance Spirit cover shoot—just 36 hours after being named the "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 15 champion—she looked impossibly fresh-faced and well-rested. The Anaheim Hills, CA, native may have had "about eight blisters," as she joked, on her feet; she may barely have slept since the big win; and she may have just performed on "Live with Kelly and Ryan." But she jumped right on set, and quite literally didn't stop jumping for the next five hours. The fabulous technique, irresistible personality, and (especially) boundless energy that earned her the title of America's Favorite Dancer were all on full display.

So what was it actually like for Hannahlei to compete on the show she'd watched since she was a tiny dancer—and what's next for the now–19-year-old? Read on.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Videos
Jillian Vanstone and Joe Chapman in The Dream. (Karolina Kuras, courtesy National Ballet of Canada)

Next weekend, the National Ballet of Canada will perform The Dream, Frederick Ashton's 1964 one-act version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Y'all know that dancing the roles of fairies, mischievous sprites, and star-crossed lovers is all in a typical day's work for professional ballet dancers. What's less typical for the three male dancers who perform as Bottom, the bumbling rustic who gets turned into a donkey? Dancing en pointe.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Videos

It's one of those iconic only-in-NYC images: Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia making music with their feet in the middle of the legendary toy store FAO Schwarz. The uber-charming "giant piano" scene (choreographed by Pat Birch of Grease and the Martha Graham Dance Company) from the 1988 movie Big has since found its well-deserved place in many a supercut and pop-culture deep dive. But the Big piano has sadly been silent since FAO Schwarz suddenly closed its doors—seemingly for good—on July 15, 2015. Until today, that is!

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Erin Baiano

Most-used emoji: ❤️

Favorite place to shop: Lululemon

Her dance style in five words: "Hard-hitting, lots of tricks"

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
via Giphy.com

If there's one thing we learned from the musical episode of "Riverdale" last season, it's that more television shows should follow along and have at least one dance-tastic episode. Sure, sometimes these can flop, but most of the time they only make us love the show even more. Here are 8 series that we think need an episode filled with dancey goodness RIGHT NOW.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Videos
Screenshot via YouTube

One Sergei Polunin is great but two, three, or four Polunins, that's something we can really get behind. And now we don't even have to go to an alternative universe to enjoy multiple Polunin clones. In Hozier's latest music video, "Movement" the legendary ballet dancer's drool-worthy technique is on full display as multiple versions of Polunin break out dancing. And though this isn't the first time the ballet superstar has teamed up with Hozier, this performance is even more haunting than the pair's 2013 collaboration in the "Take Me to Church" video.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Ellie Wagner (center) at Hall of Fame Dance Challenge's 2018 Nationals (photo by Hall of Fame, courtesy Wagner)

Each competition season comes with a range of emotions—emotions that tend to test even our strongest dance friendships. We spoke with comp-world veterans about how to deal with five common friendship-ruining competition scenarios, so you can keep the "forever" in "BFF."

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
From left: (photo by Michael Curley, courtesy Cincinnati Ballet) (courtesy Cincinnati Zoo)

Yesterday Cincinnati Ballet announced an exciting addition to this year's Nutcracker cast: a character based on Fiona, the world's most famous hippopotamus.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Video

mailbox

Get Dance Spirit in your inbox

Sponsored

Giveaways