When Maya and Nandy McClean were little girls, their mother encouraged them to pursue their dreams. Now, in their 20s, they’re dancing and singing alongside Prince!
The McClean sisters, known as The Twinz, got the itch for the limelight while growing up in Sydney, Australia. They started ballet, jazz, modern, tap, hip hop and Latin dance at 14, and went on to find success Down Under dancing, singing and acting in commercials; movies like Son of the Mask and Moulin Rouge!; on TV for “Australian Idol”; and onstage in The Lion King. In almost all of their gigs, the sisters have worked side-by-side.
Two years ago, Nandy and Maya moved to L.A. and joined Lula Washington Dance Theatre, but they weren’t members for long. Their fourth American audition was for a Prince music video, choreographed by Fatima Robinson, and they’ve been dancing for him ever since. “We love working with him,” Maya says. “He teaches us a lot about music and image. And we joke around with him a lot. He’s a teacher and a little boy all in one.”
Besides the band, The Twinz are the only other performers in Prince’s show. They danced and sang alongside him at the BET Awards and Super Bowl halftime show, are in his music videos, and accompany him to red carpet events and fashion shows.
They even choreograph his shows. “People might consider our style jazz,” says Nandy, “but we have a lot of influences, from modern with a splash of ’80s to hip hop and rock and roll.” Prince often has input on the steps. “He likes to edit the choreography because he’s involved in every aspect of the show, from wardrobe to lighting,” says Maya. “It’s different when you’re creating movement for an artist. They’ve got their vision, too, so we collaborate on the whole thing.”
As busy as they are, The Twinz are still working on their music and dabbling in some acting projects. “In L.A., there’s so much opportunity,” Maya says. “But you have to stay down-to-earth.” Thankfully, she’s got her twin to help her stay grounded. “With a twin, there’s always someone to work with,” says Nandy. “It’s a lot of fun. We do things exactly the same way. A lot of times, we choreograph the same steps, even if we don’t notice it.”
Born in: Sydney, Australia
Inspirations: Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston
Dating: Very single at the moment. “We’re married to our work!” exclaims Nandy.
On their iPods: India.Arie, Will.i.am, Sergio Mendes, Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, Nelly Furtado, Sade
Favorite choreographer: Hi-Hat
If you could sit down with one celebrity face-to-face: “I’d say Michael Jackson first, but we’ve already met him! We’ve actually run into a lot of our idols here in L.A. It’s crazy,” says Maya. “Otherwise we’d have to say Jim Carrey. He makes us laugh.”
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?