Dancer to Dancer
Jaxon Willard (via @jaxonwillard on Instagram)

We caught up with five major competition stars to get the deets on what was on their wish lists this past December—and their responses were positively dancetastic. Check out what they're most excited about using in the new year to help further their resolutions, and get some inspiration on what to ask for at your next big celebration!

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Dance News

Holy sequins and aerials, Batman: New York City Dance Alliance knows how to put on a GALA. (Or two!)

NYCDA just finished up its week-long NYC Nationals with a pair of stupendous gala nights, celebrating the Mini, Junior, Teen and Senior Outstanding Dancers. And I'm still kind of recovering from the onslaught of talent.

First of all, let's congratulate the National Outstanding Dancer winners, shall we?

National Mini Outstanding Dancers

Madison Brown

Brady Farrar

National Junior Outstanding Dancers

Jasmine Cruz

Parker Garrison

National Teen Outstanding Dancers

Nina Bartell

Harrison Knostman

National Senior Outstanding Dancers

Sarah Pippin

Jake Tribus

The wonderful Teen and Senior National ODs (via NYCDA)

Notice any familiar names in there? I bet you do—because a lot of these amazing artists are old Dance Spirit friends! We're so excited that Jasmine (who pulled off 32 fouettés on pointe in a group number—more on that later) is back as Junior OD after her reign as Mini a few years back, and we're thrilled to see Brady add a NYCDA title to his already impressive resumé. Huge congrats also go to Sarah and Jake, the heroes of our web series The Road to Nationals! Those besties are going to have sooooo much fun on the road with NYCDA this year. I'd say their new titles are the perfect excuse to (re–)binge-watch R2N, which follows their 2014 NYCDA journey.

Sarah was also a 2014 Cover Model Search finalist! NBD. (photo by Erin Baiano)

As fun as it is to see talented individuals honored, my favorite part of NYCDA Nationals is the Critics' Choice competition, which highlights outstanding group numbers. Those proceedings are all the more exciting because DS sponsors the Mini and Junior Critics' Choice winners, and our friends at Dance Magazine sponsor the Teen and Senior champs.

I'm glad that we just hand out the trophies, though, and don't have to judge the darn thing, because the field is consistently stellar. And this year was no exception. Tempe Dance Academy earned National Senior CC with "I'm So Sorry," in which 2014 National Senior OD Kolton Krouse got pummeled by a group of glamorous ladies. (Don't cry for Kolton, though: He's going to Juilliard next year!) Westlake School for the Performing Arts repped #teamballet and earned the Teen CC award with its beautifully classical "Paquita"—featuring Jasmine's fantabulous fouettés, which were sprinkled with doubles and finished with a triple, naturally. (I'd like to remind everyone that she's 12. TWELVE.) The ladies of Westchester Dance Academy also showed off beautiful classical technique in "When the Last Angel Falls," which won Mini CC. And the crowd favorite of the year (the decade? the century?), Performance Edge 2's "Hello"—which put a pitch-perfect tap spin on the hilarious opening song from The Book of Mormon—took home the Junior CC award.

Look at those legs! (via NYCDA)

I'd also like to give a shoutout to Jordan Pelliteri, the 2014 National Senior OD, who relinquished her title last night with one final solo—a smoldering little number complete with her signature jaw-dropping, is-she-maybe-a-contortionist extensions. Jordan is also one of this year's Cover Model Search finalists (love, love, LOVE that the National Senior OD title was passed from one CMS finalist to another), so if you want to see her pretty face on our October cover, go vote for her now!

It's always wonderful to feel the warm NYCDA family love at the closing galas. And nothing embodied the organization's spirit of support and friendship better than this year's oh-so-happy Senior Outstanding Dancer number, choreographed by the great Suzi Taylor. So I'll close with an excerpt from that. See you next season, NYCDA!

Our Senior Outstanding Dancers are SO BEAUTIFUL! We LOVE each and every one of you!!! ❤️❤️❤️ #nycdainspires #nycdnationals2015

Posted by New York City Dance Alliance on Monday, July 6, 2015
Dancer to Dancer

The similarities between 10-year-old contemporary dancer Brady Farrar and his idol, “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 11 winner Ricky Ubeda, are kind of uncanny. Brady’s got the legs that won’t quit, the infectious personality—even the piercing blue eyes. Just like Ubeda, Brady trains at Stars Dance Studio in Miami, FL, under the mentorship of owners Victor Smalley and Angel Armas. Oh, and he wins titles like it’s his job: In 2014 alone, Brady earned Mini Male Best Dancer at The Dance Awards and Young Male Dancer of the Year at American Dance Awards.

"Ricky Ubeda has been inspiring me since day one. When I watch him dance, I feel like, ‘Man, I’m going to be that one day.'"

(Photo by Chris Reilly Photography, courtesy the Farrars)

Fast Facts

Birthday: January 19, 2005

If he were an animal, he’d be… a whale shark. “They’re a threatened species, so I also want to help protect them.”

Favorite dancers: Victor Smalley and Misty Copeland

Favorite food: plain M&M’s

Hidden talent: “I can wiggle my ears!”

Pre-performance ritual: “I shake it out, beginning with eight counts for each hand and foot, then four counts, then two, then one.”

Signature move: Russian straddle jump

Superhero alter ego: Bendy Man. “I’d be able to wrap my leg around my head three times!”

Dream job: joining a company and traveling around the world with them

 

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