Luke Barrett performing his solo "Epilogue" (Evolve Photo & Video, courtesy Meredith Barrett)

Luke Barrett's been a standout on the comp scene for years now, thanks to his crystal-clear technique and soulful improv skills. He's a two-time New York City Dance Alliance National Male Outstanding Dancer (Mini in 2016 and Junior in 2018), 2nd runner-up at The Dance Awards (2017), and Beat Squad member (2018). Luke hasn't let negative comments and bullying at school weaken his passion for dance: "Support from my family and my dance friends has made me stronger in pursuing what I love," he says.

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Rising Stars
Wilson (right) judging the competition (Evolve Photo)

All your practice and prep for a competition leads up to the moment when you hit your final mark and look up at the judges' table. But do you ever wonder what their experience is like? Follow along with Dana Wilson—a dancer, choreographer, member of The Seaweed Sisters trio, and faculty member/judge for New York City Dance Alliance—on a typical day of teaching, judging, and doing a fair bit of juggling.

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Competition
Mackenzie Brown competing at this year's Prix de Lausanne. Gregory Bartadon, Courtesy PDL.

Earlier this month, 16-year-old Mackenzie Brown took home the first prize at the 2019 Prix de Lausanne. Not only was the Stafford, Virginia-native the only American to place in the finals; she also won the Contemporary Dance Prize and the Audience Favorite Prize. A student at the Académie Princesse Grace in Monaco, Brown's path to the Prix was anything but smooth: The determined young dancer fought against injuries that threatened to keep her on the sidelines.

We caught up with Brown, currently taking a few weeks to recover at home with her family in Virginia, to hear all about her experience at the Prix de Lausanne.

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Site Network
Adrienne Gregorek working on physical therapy exercises with a patient (courtesy Gregorek)

When Adrienne Gregorek was 14, she injured her hamstring and was sent to physical therapy. "I was super frustrated," she remembers. "I went to a clinic where there were mostly older people being treated and felt like the staff didn't understand the needs of a dancer. When they were re-testing me at the end, they said, 'You're good,' even though I really wasn't where I needed to be for optimal strength and flexibility."

For many dancers looking for their next step beyond the stage, a career that continues to connect them to the art is a no-brainer. In Gregorek's case, her interest in the human body, coupled with her passion for dance, led her to a career in physical therapy and landed her a job at Westside Dance Physical Therapy in NYC, where she treats dancers, including members of New York City Ballet and students at the School of American Ballet.

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Branch Out
Images by Norelle, courtesy Jennifer Falcione

When we asked what her proudest accomplishment so far is, Kiarra Waidelich paused for a moment. That's because she has so many to choose from: In the past two years, Kiarra's earned Mini and Junior Female Best Dancer at The Dance Awards, snagged Youth America Grand Prix's Hope Award, and made it to the divisional finals on Season 2 of "World of Dance." Equally gifted in ballet ("I love the mental and physical challenge") and contemporary, it's the latter that made Kiarra realize dance was her passion. "If something bad or stressful happens in my day, I use contemporary as a way to express and release what I'm feeling," she says. "Dance is a way for me to emote and let things go."

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