Photo by Erin Baiano

Catching Up with Cover Model Search Finalist Shelby Patterson

We're thrilled for our Cover Model Search winner Sydney Burtis—but we also love our two runners-up, Jacalyn Tatro and Shelby Patterson! We talked to Shelby about how life has changed since her NYC visit for the contest.

Shelby Patterson has been super-busy since her Cover Model Search trip to NYC earlier this year. After graduating from high school, she pursued lots of fun summer dance opportunities, including working with Tyce Diorio and attending Stacey Tookey's Camp Protégé. Now the CMS runner-up is on to her next adventure: She recently moved to L.A. to start her commercial career.

"I made the decision to forego a four-year college dance program to pursue professional dance jobs," explains Shelby. "It was a little scary, but thanks to the amazing mentors and guidance I got at Orange County School of the Arts and Westside Dance Project, I was ready to take the leap."

Read on to hear how she's grown since being named a CMS Finalist!



What have you been up to since your trip to NYC?

Shelby with her date for prom (courtesy Patterson)

It's been such a whirlwind! I performed in my final commercial dance concert, where I received the Most Well-Rounded Dancer Award, as well as the Director's Award. I debuted my first piece of choreography, which featured a cast of 10 of the most incredible humans. I was named a finalist in the OC Register Artist of the Year program. I performed in my final pre-professional show with Westside Dance Project. I had the honor of being hired by Tyce Diorio and the DanceOn channel to appear in the artist video "Say Love." I attended senior prom with my best friend. And I graduated from OCSA!

Over the summer, I competed at The Dance Awards in Las Vegas, and had the honor of finishing top 10 in the Senior Best Dancer competition. I attended the Backhaus Dance Intensive at Chapman University as their dance ambassador. I was named a member of the DancerPalooza Beat Squad and attended The Travis Wall Experience at DancerPalooza in San Diego. I assisted Tyce Diorio at the inaugural weekend of Brian Friedman's The Main Event in NYC. And I gained a little experience teaching by subbing at my first studio, Orange County Performing Arts Academy.

After a little downtime in August—where I finally got to relax, sleep, and hang out at the beach—I attended Stacey Tookey's Camp Protégé in Calgary, Canada. It was such an inspiring, motivating way to prepare for my professional career.

How did you campaign during the voting period? 

Shelby at the inaugural weekend of Brian Friedman's The Main Event (courtesy Patterson)

I was so grateful for the support and love I received from my friends, family, and the dance community. I posted all over Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and reached out to my dance mentors and supporters. I was humbled by all of the people who took the time to vote.

What was your favorite part of the Cover Model Search experience? 

Photo by Erin Baiano

It was so exciting to meet the Dance Spirit staff, and to get to know Jacalyn and Sydney. The photoshoot was a highlight for me. I really enjoyed working with photographer Erin Baiano, and felt so comfortable and confident portraying my true self in front of the camera. The staff and my fellow finalists were extremely encouraging. It was a dream!

How have you grown since the trip?

Shelby (center) with Travis Wall (left) after attending The Travis Wall Experience at DancerPalooza (courtesy Patterson)

I've gained more confidence in myself and my decision to pursue a professional dance career. The encouragement that I saw throughout the voting process helped me realize how fortunate I am to have these opportunities. Getting to know Jacalyn and Sydney and learning about their journeys inspired me to chase my dream.

What are your goals for the coming year?

Shelby at The Dance Awards (photo by Graci Federico, courtesy Patterson)

To fully immerse myself in this new chapter of my life. That will include continuing to train across many genres, and attending as many auditions as possible. I want to keep up my education and develop a healthy lifestyle to maintain my performance capabilities. And I want to build stronger relationships with my agency, Clear Talent Group, and my mentors.

What's your advice for CMS hopefuls?

Shelby at The Dance Awards where she finished top 10 in the Senior Best Dancer competition (courtesy Patterson)

Being a part of the CMS experience is a huge honor. There's so much to take in and learn. Make the most of every activity. Be confident in yourself and stay true to who you are, because people are always drawn to authenticity. Enjoy all the new relationships and new memories that you'll make.

Latest Posts


Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo courtesy of Brittany Conigatti

Go Behind the Scenes of Annie Live! With Brittany Conigatti

Unwrap your candy canes, pour the hot chocolate and round up your fellow theater lovers: NBC is kicking off the Christmas season with its latest live-broadcast TV musical. Annie Live! premieres December 2 and features a star-studded cast, including Harry Connick Jr., Tituss Burgess, Megan Hilty and, as the title character, young phenom Celina Smith.

Luckily, people got a taste of what the special will entail when the cast kicked off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a performance last week. But since you’re never fully dressed without a Dance Spirit exclusive, we caught up with Brittany Conigatti, one of the young orphans and adult ensemble members in the show, to learn what it was like putting together a large-scale live production for the small screen.

The cast of Annie Live! poses for a group photo. The cast of Annie Live!Photo courtesy of Conigatti


Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search