5 to Watch 2017

Poised perfection, the following 5 dancers are on our radar. We have watched them dance and grow and we could not be more proud of their hard work and accomplishments. These young Brown Ballerinas are dedicated dancers who are both intelligent and talented, just 2 of the reasons that they are 2017's '5 to Watch'.

Kelly Hicks

Photo Credit:  @henrikebeate.photos

Kelly Hicks, age 13, a native of sunny Southern California, began taking dance classes at age 5. After being on stage with Moscow Ballet Theater two years later, she fell in love with ballet and soon began her classical training Vaganova style.

She currently attends Dance Channel TV Studios for classical ballet and studies under Bolshoi alumni, Arsen Serobian.
At age 11, Kelly placed top 12 at San Francisco Regionals with a contemporary piece and advanced to the Youth American Grand Prix finals in New York City. 

In 2015 and 2016 she was invited to join local Nutcracker productions as a corps de ballet dancer as well as with doll solo pieces.

Kelly attended her first summer intensive across the country with Ellison Ballet in 2016, and this year she placed top 12 junior classical at the YAGP regional Los Angeles and was the gold medalist of the classical variation division at California Dance Classics.

Photo Credit: LK Studio Inc

Photo Credit: LK Studio Inc

Kelly has received scholarship offers for summer from Houston Ballet, Kirov and Bolshoi Academy but has decided to return to Ellison Ballet. Kelly was invitedand has recently committed to attending American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in NYC.

Kelly dreams of one day becoming a principal dancer with ABT.

video courtesy of: Photo Credit: LK Studio Inc


Kamala Saara McDaniels

Photo Credit - Don McDaniels

Photo Credit - Don McDaniels

Kamala Saara McDaniels began her formal ballet training with master teacher Yuri Grigoriev of Yuri Grigoriev School of Ballet in 2011 at the age of 10.


In 2012, at the request of Mr. Grigoriev Kamala competed in the pre-competitive category at the Los Angeles YAGP regional semi-finals, a competition that helps prepare students for a level of professionalism that is expected in the international world of ballet.


Kamala has performed twice at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; Joffrey Ballet's 'Nutcracker' 2011 and American Ballet Theatre's production of 'Le Corsaire' in 2013.

In 2016, Kamala placed 3rd in the Junior Classical/top 12 in Junior Contemporary categories at the Los Angeles YAGP regional semi-finals and traveled to New York to compete in the Youth America Grand Prix/YAGP Finals. She was awarded a full scholarship for year-round study with Academie De Danse Princess Grace in Monaco, France.

Photo credit - Michelle Bello McDaniels

Photo credit - Michelle Bello McDaniels

This past November at the invitation of YAGP, Kamala competed in the European Semi-finals in Paris, France where she placed 2nd in classical (the only American Junior to place in the 12-14 category) and top 12 in contemporary. Palucca University of Dance in Dresden, Germany offered her a full scholarship for year-round study and she received an invitation to compete at the YAGP NY Finals this coming April.

This summer, Kamala will participate in the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet Academy 6 week Summer Intensive in New York City on a full scholarship.

Kamala is working to fulfill her dream of completing her Russian ballet training in Russia. She hopes one day to dance professionally in Europe and then in the United States.


Amaya Joseph

Amaya Joseph, 11, is a little girl with big dreams who is working hard every day to make her dreams a reality. Amaya started dancing at the age of 3 and has been dancing ever since; her ultimate goal is to become a principal ballerina. 
Amaya attends Orlando Ballet School and is enrolled in the pre-professional division where she trains six days a week. Amaya’s training consists of ballet, pointe, jazz, character, and variation.

In January of 2016 Amaya competed in Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) competition and placed 2nd in the classical division and top 12 in contemporary, she was also invited and competed in the NY finals.

Amaya auditioned and was accepted into American Ballet Theatre’s Young Dancer Summer Workshop in NY, she trained there for two weeks and described her time at ABT as “Amazing.”

This past January, Amaya competed in YAGP and placed top 12 in the classical division. In February of this year, Amaya had the privilege of performing in her first musical with the Orlando Ballet Company. Amaya performed the lead role of “Annie” in the “Best of Broadway” Production, and she is forever grateful for this opportunity.

Photo Credit: VAM (Visual Arts Masters)

Photo Credit: VAM (Visual Arts Masters)

Amaya auditioned for three summer intensives this year: ABT, Miami City Ballet, and The Rock; Amaya was accepted into all three and received a partial scholarship from one of the three. She has decided she will be attending Miami City Ballet’s 5-week summer program.

Another highlight for Amaya this year was when she received the news that she was selected as an ambassador for Brown Girls Do Ballet, she is humbled by this opportunity. She hopes she can be an inspiration to other ballerinas and is thankful for those who have paved the way for her. Michaela Deprince, Misty Copeland, Ingrid Silva, and Lauren Anderson are a few of her role models.

Video Courtesy of VAM (Visual Arts Masters)


Helga Paris-Morales

Photo Credit: Rene Micheo

Photo Credit: Rene Micheo

Helga Paris-Morales 17, was born in San Juan,  Puerto Rico where she first experienced movement and music. Coming from a family of professional musicians, she always understood and felt the power within it; and became inspired. When she first was able to attend lessons in the United States after her family moved, she knew that she’d want to inspire the world as an artist one day. 

Helga is a current student at the Washington School of Ballet’s Pre-Professional Training Program under the direction of Xiomara Reyes. She previously moved from Cincinnati, Ohio after attending the School For Creative and Performing Arts as a dance major from 8th-10th grade, performing leading roles in their productions. When Helga was 8, she was enrolled in the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music’s Youth Ballet where she was introduced to ballet and theatre. 

Photo Credit: Lepa Juju Stojanovic

Photo Credit: Lepa Juju Stojanovic

Since 2012, Helga has received scholarships and invitations to summer intensives including ABT, Joffrey, Kansas City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and Cincinnati Ballet. She was a 2015 Overture finalist and has danced roles including Giselle, Odette/Odile, and Sugar Plum. 

This summer, Helga will attend the Washington School of Ballet’s Summer Intensive program and will continue to expand and explore her capacities as a dancer and artist. 


Tais Vinolo

Photo Credit: Melina Gineau

Photo Credit: Melina Gineau

Tais Vinolo is  13-year-old ballerina from France. Taïs studied classical ballet at the School Of Ballet Lipszyc in Biarritz, France, for five years. In Biarritz, she progressed quickly and became one of the best dancers of the school.

In 2015, while in  Los Angeles with family, Taïs spotted the date of an American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive audition and decided to go for it.  Mom, Alexandra, states after the auditions, "We figured she was enjoying herself and then, as we did not believe, we really forgot to look at the results. In fact, I had given a secondary email address in a box that I rarely open. It was only in February, by chance, that I came across the mail in question. When I opened it, when I read "Congratulations", I did not really believe it. "

 Taïs was invited as one of 200 young people selected for the summer intensive at ABT in New York and then invited for admission to the ABT pre-professional school year round, where she currently studies.

Photo Credit: Maxime Vinolo

Photo Credit: Maxime Vinolo

Moving from France to the U.S. didn't come without adjustments for Taïs, leaving friends was hard. "I'm a little sad, but we keep in touch with social networks. I will not have time to get bored. There is school in the morning until 2 pm and then, from 3 to 8 pm, dance every day except Sunday. In addition to this program, there are numerous trips to accompany the professional company."

At the age of 13, the teenager has a huge dream and she on her way. "Classical dance is my passion, and if there is a company that attracted me, it was the American Ballet Theatre!  "

Video courtesy of Maxime Vinolo