Sarah performing her solo, "The Black Hawk Waltz," at NYCDA Nationals. By ProPix.
At last summer’s Dance Awards finale in NYC, superstars including Travis Wall, Nick Lazzarini, Bobby Newberry and Mandy Moore all tore up the dance floor—but it was pint-size Sarah Pippin, now 14, who earned the only standing ovation of the night.
Her solo, “The Black Hawk Waltz,” showed Sarah at her best. Adorned with feathered black wings, Sarah eased into the choreography with long balances in relevé and deep pliés, all in total control. Halfway through the piece, the music shifted dramatically to a techno beat, and as the audience gasped, Sarah hit her moves hard. Sure, the side aerial was impressive, and the leap that carried her across the entire stage was powerfully high, but Sarah showed off ferocity and swagger in addition to solid technique. She proved she can rock jazz, contemporary and hip hop—all in just three minutes.
Unsurprisingly, Sarah dominated the 2011 Nationals scene, earning two of the season’s most coveted honors for her performances: National Junior Female Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance and Best Female Teen Dancer at the Dance Awards. “I was honored, humbled and super-excited,” she says of her triumphs.
Sarah started dancing when she was 3, first competed at age 4 and began serious tap, jazz, ballet, acro and hip-hop training when she was 8 at CC & Co. Dance Complex in her hometown of Raleigh, NC. “I wanted to grow as a dancer and heard great things about the instructors at CC & Co.,” she says. “In my first year there I could already tell how much the training was helping me.”
Though Sarah has plenty of time to plan her future, she knows she’s at her best in the studio and onstage. “I definitely want to pursue dance as a career,” she says. “I want to go to college for dance and I want to travel, too. When I’m older I want to join a company, and my dream dance job is to be a convention teacher and a choreographer.” Sounds like this darling dynamo has got it all figured out.
Sarah performing with her studio at The Dance Awards. Courtesy The Dance Awards.
Birthday: December 7, 1997
Most-played on her iPod: “Poison & Wine” by The Civil Wars
Favorite movie: The Blind Side
Favorite TV show: “I don’t have a lot of time to watch TV! But my family always enjoys watching ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ together.”
Favorite food: Taco salad
Dance idol: Lauren Adams
Dance crush: Peter Chu. “He’s really sweet and awesome to work with.”
Who would play her in a movie: Reese Witherspoon
Something people don’t know about Sarah: “I’m obsessed with Little Debbie Zebra Cakes! They’re really unhealthy but I love them so much.”
(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.
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.
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?