It's almost 2019 and the ballroom dance scene is positively booming! From prestigious world championships to TV shows, kids are at the core of all this hip-shaking action—and we're so here for it. These eight up-and-comers in particular are shaping the field. They're the next generation of superstars to make the leap from technically exquisite ballroom-ites to bona fide celebrities.
Stephanie & Ezra Sosa
Siblings Stephanie and Ezra Sosa are on the road to becoming the next Derek and Julianne Hough. And like the Hollywood A-listers did before them, this brother and sister pair train at Center Stage Performing Arts Studio in Orem, UT.
"We'd love to be the next Derek and Julianne," says 19-year-old Stephanie. "But more specifically, the Latin-American version!" The children of immigrants born in Mexico and Argentina, the Sosa siblings (including their oldest brother Tristen, who teaches ballroom at Bunker Dance Center in Las Vegas) have the root of Latin dance built into their DNA. "Whenever we compete, people always tell us that our movement quality is so entertaining and that our dancing feels really authentic," 18-year-old Ezra says. "That's because dance is such a huge part of our culture. We just naturally have good rhythm and hip action."
That feeling especially comes in handy for Stephanie when she's competing her specialties: rumba, paso, jive, samba, or cha-cha. "She's a very natural dancer," says teacher Sasha Altukhov. "She feels the rhythm of the music very well. She's confident and she's sassy. You simply can't miss her on the floor." He's not exaggerating. Stephanie's a two-time U.S. National Amateur Pre-Champ Champion and, just this past summer, her fiery footwork and fierce attitude helped her stand out in the Top 20 on Season 15 of "So You Think You Can Dance."
Ezra's known for his control, power, and speed—and especially for cha-cha. He's a U.S. National Youth Pre-Champ Champion and recently competed with The Pulse on "World of Dance" Season 2, placing 5th overall for all junior team acts. And while tall dancers typically find their footing in the standard ballroom world, Ezra's lanky 6-foot frame is more unusual in Latin dance. "Tall dancers are often slow and lyrical," says Altukhov. "But Ezra is an exception. He stands out on the floor with control and precision." Altukhov attributes this to Ezra's decision to cross-train in other styles. Stephanie does, too, and the two regularly score top titles at national comps, including The Dance Awards and Radix Dance Convention.
As far as their professional futures go, they hope to soon land spots as pros on "Dancing with the Stars." But beyond that, Stephanie says, "I see us working together, doing shows, and creating our own kind of empire." Watch out, world: They just might.
A version of this story appeared in the January 2019 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "The Rising Stars of Ballroom."