Avery Gay's chameleonlike abilities have earned her comp-world celebrity. In a testament to her versatility, she won the 2015 Hope Award—a prize reserved for the best classical and contemporary dancer in the pre-competitive age bracket—at the Youth America Grand Prix Las Vegas semifinals. Then she won it again at the 2016 Austin, TX semifinals.
Considering her strong work ethic and love of performing, it's no surprise the 12-year-old didn't stop there: She also scooped up the bronze medal in her age bracket at the 2015 YAGP NYC finals, was named The Dance Awards 2015 Mini Division Best Dancer in Las Vegas and is a member of the 2016 Beat Squad at DancerPalooza in L.A.
Avery logs 30 to 35 hours per week at Master Ballet Academy in Scottsdale, AZ, honing her classical technique. To accommodate her intense schedule, she attends public school in the morning before hitting the studio. This summer, Avery will have the opportunity to perform at the Gala de Danza in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, alongside other top pre-professionals and international stars.
“I love to act onstage. I always come up with a story, even in a contemporary piece."
Birthday: May 25, 2004
Favorite musical group: The Beach Boys
Favorite dancers: Gisele Bethea and Maria Kochetkova
Hidden talent: “I'm obsessed with organizing things."
Favorite food: Pickles
Stress reliever: A hot bath with Epsom salts
Dream role: “Odile in Swan Lake. I love her attitude and drama."
Her dancing in three words: “Technical, powerful and dramatic"
Advice for Dance Spirit readers: “Hard work always pays off."
In our "Dear Katie" series, MCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email email@example.com for a chance to be featured!
I'm 14 and have been studying ballet seriously for about three years. Even though I feel ready,my teachers haven't put me on pointe yet. Am I doing something wrong? Should I ask them about it, or is it pointe-less?
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Samantha Figgins (Andrew Eccles)
Samantha Figgins is currently in her fifth season with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (and was a Dance Spirit cover girl back in 2013!). But what many people don't know is that the gorgeous dancer suffers from single-sided deafness. As a baby, Figgins contracted spinal meningitis, which caused her to lose all hearing in her right ear. She never gave up on her dance dreams, though, and fought her way through uncomfortable situations, never missing an opportunity to learn and grow. Now, after getting her first pair of hearing aids, she opens up about her path to success. —(As told to Courtney Celeste Spears)
Sara Esty as Maggie in "A Chorus Line" (courtesy Esty)
Sara Esty's ethereal grace and sophisticated charm have won over ballet and Broadway audiences alike. The bunhead-turned-Broadway-baby began training near her hometown in Gorham, ME, at the Maine State Ballet's School for the Performing Arts (with her equally fabulous twin sister, Leigh-Ann). She enrolled full-time at the Miami City Ballet School in 2004, and joined Miami City Ballet as an apprentice in 2005. In 2006, Esty won the Princess Grace Award, and she was promoted to soloist at MCB in 2011. After leaving MCB in 2014, she made her Broadway debut in An American in Parisas the understudy for Lise, and went on to share the role of Lise with her sister on the show's national tour. Most recently, she was seen in 5th Avenue Theatre's production of Marie, Dancing Stillin Seattle, WA. —Courtney Bowers