Camille A. Brown dancer Maleek Washington captivates audiences with his super-fluid, intricate contemporary moves and adept musicality. His exceptional technique and presence have also landed him gigs with artists including Sia and Rihanna. An NYC native, Washington grew up in the Bronx and trained at the Harlem School of the Arts, Broadway Dance Center, and LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts. He attended The Boston Conservatory on a full scholarship before accepting a job with CityDance Ensemble in Washington, DC. He's also worked with Kyle Abraham and his company Abraham.In.Motion. for four seasons, and became the first African-American male to perform in Sleep No More. Most recently, Washington performed in NBC's "Jesus Christ Superstar" live. Catch him dancing with the Camille A. Brown company this month at The Joyce Theater in NYC and at University of Arizona in Tucson—and read on for The Dirt!
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."
In February 2016, "So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation" released a casting call for dancers ages 8 to 12. Determined to make it onto the show, then–10-year-old Emma Hellenkamp prepared a jazz solo for the L.A. audition. The next part of her story may come as a surprise to fans of the series: She didn't make the cut. But Emma's competition background meant she was well-versed in several dance styles, so she opted to audition again in Chicago—this time with a tap solo. And the rest is history: Emma not only made it onto the show, but also progressed all the way to the final four.
"SYTYCD: The Next Generation" is part of a larger trend of dance-competition TV embracing younger dancers, with shows including "World of Dance" and the upcoming "Dancing with the Stars Junior" following suit. And like Emma, many of the dance kids trying out their skills on these shows come from the competition-and-convention circuit. What is it about these two worlds that smooths the transition from one to the other?