Simrin Player has danced for Shakira, Miley Cyrus, Willow Smith and Justin Bieber. She’s performed on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “The Oprah Show” and at the Nickelodeon “Kids’ Choice Awards.” She’s even danced at the White House. Oh yeah, and she’s 12.
This pint-sized powerhouse began dancing when she was 3. Soon after, her family moved from Salt Lake City, UT, to Phoenix, AZ, where she expanded her training. Today, Simrin—Simi to friends—attends the Arizona School for the Arts, where she takes a full academic course load along with ballet, piano and choir. She spends most evenings in dance classes at various Phoenix-area studios, studying everything from pointe to contemporary to hip hop, though breakdancing is her favorite style. “I love the way you get to express yourself,” she says. “And I love the music—the music is the best for dancing.”
Simrin landed her first professional job when an assistant to hip-hop choreographer Hi-Hat spotted her at an NYC breakdancing competition. Hi-Hat invited the then-8-year-old to L.A. to audition for a spot dancing with Missy Elliot at the 2007 VH1 “Hip Hop Honors.” When she found out that she had booked the job, Simrin did what any young girl would do: she screamed. “I was so excited,” she says.
Since then, Simrin’s career has taken off. She frequently travels to L.A. for auditions, and although she’s often the youngest dancer at a call, she doesn’t get nervous. “I keep myself calm and focused by stretching,” she says. (She was nervous, however, when she performed at the White House Easter Egg Roll and met President Barack Obama. “When I shook his hand, I was shaking,” she says.)
In addition to performing with big-name pop stars, Simrin spent a season on the Nick Jr. musical sitcom “The Fresh Beat Band” and appeared in Step Up 3D. She’s also a familiar face on the competition scene. She was named Junior BreakOut Artist at the 2010 NUVO Nationals, and was a PULSE Protégé. But the pinnacle so far has been a month-long tour through the UK performing with Justin Bieber and Willow Smith.
So what’s left for Simrin, who’s already built an enviable resumé? “I want to become a better dancer, actor and singer,” she says. “I want to inspire people.”
Birthday: September 20, 1998 (She turns 13 this month!)
Favorite food: “I love Italian food.”
Favorite movies: Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. “When I was at the ‘Kids’ Choice Awards,’ I was so focused on Snoop Dogg, I didn’t even notice Jim Carrey was there!”
(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?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.