The Perks of Being a 13-Year-Old Dancer/Costume Designer

Have you ever been handed a dance costume for a competition or recital and thought, “I could've designed something better than this!” Revolution Dancewear’s “Design Your Dream” competition asked dancers to do just that. And, out of 47 submissions, 13-year-old Rachael Bonato's fiery, Hunger Games-inspired creation won the grand prize!

Rachael and two other finalists, Morgan and Jamal, were treated to an all-expense paid trip to Chicago where they collaborated with the Revolution Dancewear design team to create sketches of their dream costumes. Then, Revolution Dancewear’s Facebook fans voted—and Rachael’s lyrical design came out on top.

Her red and yellow costume will be featured in the company’s 2014 Costume Collection. Plus, Revolution Dancewear will outfit Rachael’s entire dance class at Oregon Coast Dance Center in Tillamook, OR, in her winning design. Wouldn’t you love to see the Hunger Games-themed dance they come up with to go with the costume? Congrats Rachael!

Check out this video of the three finalists’ trip to Chicago:

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(From left) Royal Flux's Malece Miller, Savannah Alexander, and Alexia Meyer (Romark Weiss, courtesy Royal Flux)

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For years, it was hard for competition dancers to find professional jobs that made full use of their technical polish, astonishing versatility, and onstage ease. But recently, some (smart) companies have begun recruiting comp kids, drawn to their adaptability and fearlessness. We've compiled a list of nine companies that are fit for comp queens and kings. Get ready to put them on your audition radar.

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Project 21 dancers (from left) Selena Hamilton, Gracyn French, and Dyllan Blackburn (Photo by Quinn Wharton; hair and makeup throughout by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.)

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"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

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