Photo by Visual Tech Productions

Sydney Burtis

Audiences around the U.S. may know Sydney Burtis as ballet girl Keeley Gibson from the national Broadway tour of Billy Elliot. But with a passion for rhythm and feet that won't quit, the 13-year-old is really a tap dancer at heart. Last summer, she won Junior Miss Adrenaline at Nationals—the first female tapper to ever earn one of the competition's national titles. And recently, Sydney tapped her way into Tap World, a documentary produced by tap sensations Chloé and Maud Arnold.

"My mentor, Danny Wallace, and I have such a great bond. When we tap together, it's like we're one person."

Fast Facts

Birthday: August 7, 2000

Studio: Performer's Edge Dance Center in Davenport, FL

Who would play her in a movie: Shirley Temple. “She was an amazing tap dancer."

Hidden talent: Reciting the number pi to more than 60 decimal places

If she were a superhero, her super power would be: “Never getting tired. It upsets me when I'm at a dance festival exhausted. Even though my brain and heart really want to keep going, my feet and body can't. It's frustrating!"

The strangest thing in her dance bag: “A screwdriver, in case my taps come loose."

Performer she'd Love to work with: “If he were still alive, Michael Jackson. His lyric—'If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change'—really speaks to me."

Dream dance role: “I would love to be in one of Savion Glover's tap shows. It would be such a privilege to stand onstage with the professional tap dancers who inspire me each day."

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 by Jamayla Burse

Catching Up With Christian Burse, Comp Kid Turned Complexions Rising Star

With her nearly limitless facility, well-timed dynamics and incredible control, Christian Burse's future as a dancer was guaranteed to be bright. A student at the renowned Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, and at Dance Industry Performing Arts Center in Plano, TX, Burse has consistently made waves: She won first runner-up for Teen Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals in 2019, received a grant for summer study at Juilliard from the Texas Young Masters program in 2020, and was named a YoungArts finalist for dance in 2021.

So, it wasn't all that surprising when Burse announced that, at just 17 years old, she would be joining Complexions Contemporary Ballet as an apprentice for the company's 2021–22 season.

Dance Spirit caught up with Burse to hear all about her first season with Complexions ahead of the contemporary ballet company's run at the Joyce Theater in NYC this month.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search