Before she became a member of Diddy’s girl-group Danity Kane (from MTV’s “Making the Band 3”), Shannon Bex was grooving courtside as a Portland Trail Blazer dancer. Now, after working with renowned choreographers and touring with pop stars, she still enjoys a plain old dance class. So how did dance prepare the Bend, OR, native for the big, bad world of stardom? While it was a whirlwind summer—including lighting up the stage for a nationwide Six Flags tour, recording Season 5 of the TV show and helping promote the group’s new clothing line—Shannon finally had time to spill to DS.
DS: How did you first get into dance? Shannon Bex:I was 6 when I began formal ballet training, but I was dancing down grocery aisles before that.
DS: How has your ballet training prepared you for the pop world? SB: Ballet is so immensely challenging because there is so much strength and technique required; it’s very disciplined.
DS: Describe being a BlazerDancer. SB: We would learn choreography the day of a game, and have to perform it on the court in front of 20,000 people that night. It definitely prepared me for Danity Kane on so many levels.
DS: What made you try out for “Making the Band 3”? SB: I couldn’t see letting a singing, dancing and recording opportunity pass me by. It’s the hunger of the dancer: You always have to try to get the job.
DS: What’s a typical dance rehearsal like? SB: It’s about eight hours. We work for three hours, take a break, work another three, take a break, then bang out two hours.
DS: What’s the hardest part of practice? SB: Learning how your body works. If you need to get some water, get some water.
DS: What advice would you give aspiring professional dancers? SB: You are the first one who has to believe in yourself. Take criticism and don’t become discouraged. Learn from every situation.
(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?