Rhi Lee Photography, courtesy Ayden Nguyen

When a dancer's resumé includes winning "World of Dance," appearing on both "Ellen" and "The Kids' Choice Awards," and dancing with Justin Bieber, N.E.R.D., and Lil Wayne, that dancer isn't usually 10 years old. But hip-hopper Ayden Nguyen, affectionately known as the "mini Sean Lew," has already managed to captivate audiences all over the world with his explosive yet nuanced style. Catch Ayden appearing in music videos and events throughout the year in his latest gig as a featured Kidz Bop Kid.

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Is it just us, or is there still some major positive new year energy in the air? With 2020 being both a new year and a new decade, chances are you've set some pretty lofty 2020 goals, especially when it comes to dance. To help keep you on track, here are six tips to keep your new year momentum going strong in the studio.

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Just for Fun
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It's the start of a brand-new year—and a brand-new decade! As you head back to school, the studio, and/or the stage, have you taken a little time to look back at how far you've come as a dancer over the past 10 years? Many dance icons are doing just that, sharing pics and videos showing how they've evolved since the beginning of the 2010s. Take a look at eight of our favorite oh-so inspiring transformations.

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Ried Martin, courtesy Maycee Steele

Whether she's opening the Billboard Music Awards with Taylor Swift or starring in one of Kyle Hanagami's concept videos, Maycee Steele's silky moves and powerful lines make her mesmerizing to watch. Originally from Kansas City, MO, the commercial phenom found early success on the convention circuit, and was soon assisting Brian Friedman, Tessandra Chavez, Tyce Diorio, Teddy Forance, and other notable choreographers at Artists Simply Human, Pulse, Velocity, and Radix dance conventions. Early in her commercial career, Steele was chosen by Gil Duldulao to be a Rhythm Nation dancer for several cities on Janet Jackson's Unbreakable Tour. Since then, the L.A.-based dancer has appeared on stages and screens all over the world. Read on for The Dirt.

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Dancers Dish
Eva Nys Photography, courtesy Elliana Mannella

14-year-old Elliana Mannella feels right at home in crowded convention ballrooms. After earning the title of Junior Core Performer at Radix Nationals in 2018, the young dancer spent the year traveling as a Radix convention assistant. That experience further honed her incredible musicality and versatility. While she's worked with notable choreographers like Teddy Forance and Talia Favia, most of Elliana's solos are actually a collaboration between herself and her father, Frankie. The dynamic duo loves to create together and their work so far has paid off: Elliana was 1st runner up for Junior Female Best Dancer at The Dance Awards in 2018 and 2nd overall at The Dance Awards in 2019. She is currently training abroad in her first year at the Académie Princesse Grace in Monaco.

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Rising Stars
And the nominees include Jade Chynoweth. (Photo by Joe Toreno)

The first-ever Girls' Choice Awards will take place next spring, and you may recognize some familiar dance-world names among the nominees. That's because the awards—which celebrate influencers who use their digital platforms to empower women—include a super-cool "Dance To Your Beat" category. Below are the five dance artists nominated this year. You can vote for your favorite now through February 15, 2020.

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Whitney Jensen performing in "The Nutcracker" with fellow Norwegian National Ballet principal Silas Henriksen (Erik Berg, courtesy Jensen)

Every year around December, Nutcracker fever descends on the entire dance community. (Symptoms include blisters, lack of sleep, and Tchaikovsky's "March from Act I" playing in your head for days on end.) Nevertheless, the beloved holiday production holds a special place in dancers' hearts, especially because it offers a chance to revisit favorite roles or take on challenging new ones. In fact, over the course of their career, a single dancer might dance upwards of a dozen parts in the ubiquitous ballet.

Dance Spirit asked four professional ballet dancers—i.e., long-time Nutcracker all-stars—to share their entire Nutcracker histories, as well as their favorite memories and mishaps. Read on for our new favorite holiday tradition: "My Nutcracker Resumé."

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Joseph Corella (right) leads a 567Broadway! workout class (Chris Garland, courtesy Corella)

Although dancers are well aware of the many benefits of cross-training, most would probably still rather spend an hour in their favorite dance class than mindlessly jogging on a treadmill. But what if working out had the exact same thrill as the moment you step onstage?

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Branch Out
The Broadway cast of "SpongeBob the Musical" (Joan Marcus, courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown)

Get ready to have the best Bikini Bottom Day ever: The SpongeBob Musical is heading to TV screens across the country this Saturday at 7pm EST!

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Jordan Matter, courtesy Phoenix Sutch

With her confident smile, insane flexibility, and razor-sharp execution, Phoenix Sutch instantly commands every stage she sets foot on. At just 13 years old, Phoenix has already worked with her dance idols Andy Pellick and Joey Dowling, and has won the titles of National Mini Female Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals in 2017 and First Runner-Up National Junior Female Outstanding Dancer in 2019. She's also a BLOCH Young Artist and an Ambassador for Jo + Jax.

The young dancer definitely isn't slowing down anytime soon: She plans to continue training, especially in ballet, and attending conventions around the country.

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Rising Stars
Michelle Dorrance (photo by Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine)

There's a new holiday dance tradition in the works, thanks to the genius brain of tapper Michelle Dorrance. Dorrance Dance, her innovative company, is putting its own spin on The Nutcracker, using Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's jazzy version of the classic score and a slew of talented tappers, including Josette Wiggan-Freund as the production's "Sugar Rum Cherry." Check out this behind-the-scenes look at the company's fast-paced, anything-goes creative process, and catch the world premiere of The Nutcracker Suite at The Joyce Theater in NYC from December 17 to January 5.

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Lisa Taylor/Visualized Memories LLC, courtesy Liam Redford

Fearlessly expressive, triple threat Liam Redford is undeniably Broadway-bound. But the 13-year-old isn't waiting until he's older to step into the spotlight. Liam's already played one of his dream roles, the title character in Billy Elliot: The Musical, in five regional productions of the show, beginning with his debut at the Grand Theater in Williamstown, NJ, and concluding at the Opera House Theatre Company in Wilmington, NC, this past summer. In less than two years, Liam performed as Billy exactly 100 times, but he says he never got tired of the role, finding something new to explore and appreciate in every show (can you say #professional?). A seasoned storyteller, Liam hasn't just excelled in the role of Billy–most recently, he performed in Fun Home at the Front Throw Theatre Company in Philadelphia, while continuing to train in dance, voice and acting.

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Mel Poole/Unsplash

Dancers definitely excel when it comes to Halloween: We're all about the tricks, and our vast collection of old recital wear guarantees that our costumes will be on point(e).

Check out this Monster Mash(up) of the dance world's spookiest moments of 2019—and have a happy and safe Halloween!

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Just for Fun
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Further showing that whatever mere humans can do, ballerinas can do more gracefully, the Australian Ballet created the most beautiful obstacle course we've ever seen, and then put their dancers to the test. Naturally, when it came to execution, the company members went above and beyond: Why jump over a hurdle when you could pas de chat, or run to the finish when you could chaîné?

Watch the full video (which first premiered on World Ballet Day) below, featuring soloist Nicola Curry and dancers of the Australian Ballet.

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Dance Videos
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Between their flawless onstage performances and carefully crafted class videos, dancers can seem superhuman—especially to the general public. But even the most famous dancers have surprisingly relatable, offstage lives. For the select few who take audiences behind the scenes, a quick dive into their YouTube channels will show you exactly that.

Robbie Downey may spend most of her time performing in Colorado Ballet's Studio Company, but she also has fun goofing around backstage. Mackenzie Davis, a trainee at CityDance School and Conservatory in Bethesda, MD, makes ballet look easy but admits that learning to drive was a #struggle. And Rollettes Dance Team founder Chelsie Hill is on the stereotype-busting-dancer grind nonstop, but she also loves to take fun vacations.

Dance Spirit spoke to the top dancers in the vlogosphere to learn how they're using their videos to connect with their fans and share their unique perspectives.
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