Thousands of you entered our "So You Think You Can Dance" finale sweepstakes. When all was said and done, Paisley Haddad was the lucky winner, and she jetted off to Hollywood for the Season 12 finale, lots of sight-seeing and her first In-n-Out Burger. We caught up with Paisley after her trip to L.A.—read on to find out about the finale, the studios and more!
Dance Spirit: What was your reaction when you learned you'd won the sweepstakes?
Paisley Haddad: My reaction was complete shock! I couldn't believe it. I called my mom and she couldn't either. I've been watching SYTYCD since Season One, so it's always been a dream of mine to go to a taping, let alone the finale!
Paisley on Hollywood Boulevard! (Courtesy Paisley Haddad)
DS: What were the coolest parts about the trip?
PH: We were treated like VIPs from the moment we got there—I was led into the VIP room, with lots of food and dancers! I met so many of the dancers, Paula and Cat Deeley! We also got to sit right behind the choreographers, which was awesome. They were also taping Dancing with the Stars on the stage next door, so all of the cast members were coming in and out—I got to meet some of them, too.
DS: What'd you think about L.A.?
PH: It was my first time there, and I loved it. I had my very first In-n-Out Burger, which was amazing. I also got to see a bunch of landmarks, like the Walk of Fame and the TLC Chinese Theater.
DS: What was the live show like versus watching it on T.V.?
PH: It was so different. There was so much energy in the room and I felt like I was a part of it. I also got to see all the people who make the show happen—the cameramen, the lighting assistants. It's crazy to watch the cameramen try and follow the dancers and keep up with the choreography!
Paisley with Virgil (left) and Jim (right)
DS: Who was your favorite dancer this season?
PH: I wanted Gaby [Diaz] to win the entire time. She's such a great dancer, so I was really happy to be there for that. It was crazy when they announced her name—there was confetti everywhere and lots of fire erupting from the stage!
Paisley with Season 12 champ (and upcoming December cover girl!) Gaby Diaz
(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?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.