With her alpha energy, Amara Barner takes the stage like a rambunctious kid on a playground. The RUBBERBAND dancer finds a way to be at once both wild and specific, attacking Victor Quijada's highly physical choreography with thrilling fearlessness.
Training: Dancin On Broadway and Energy Dance Center in Minnesota
Accolades: Elite Protégé at The PULSE on Tour, assistant for Intrigue Dance Intensive
An early start: At just 13 years old, Barner began traveling the country every weekend dancing on scholarship with The PULSE on Tour. Soon, she began assisting Tyce Diorio on "So You Think You Can Dance," touring Australia with Erica Sobol and dancing with Emma Portner. She booked her first "major" job, as she sees it, at 18, dancing backup for Sia on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."
Amara Barner in Victor Quijada's Ever So Slightly.
Marie-Noële Pilon, Courtesy RUBBERBAND
What she got out of the competition/convention circuit: "I learned how to stand out, how to be true to myself in a room of hundreds," says Barner. She also built priceless relationships with choreographers who would later hire her, like Diorio and Portner.
Why RUBBERBAND: "I've always been a misfit as a dancer," Barner says, explaining that she's never neatly fit into any one stylistic box. That made her fall in love with Quijada's fusion choreography, which blends contemporary aesthetics with balletic lines and breaking moves. "I also love being really physical," she says. At 18, she became the youngest dancer RUBBERBAND had ever hired.
Career highlight: Being part of the creation process of Quijada's Ever So Slightly. "I'd find this thing in rehearsal one day, and then it'd be in the show," she says. "I learned how far my ideas, my voice, could go. It made me understand my own power, both in dance and in life."
What she learned from Emma Portner: "That every day you should do something to better your craft. She's a workaholic—we would dance until 2 or 3 am sometimes."
What RUBBERBAND's artistic director is saying: "Amara's dancing can range from strong, powerful and explosive to soft, fluid and feline," says Quijada. "She can tap into a ferociousness, but can balance that intensity with an intelligent control; still, she doesn't hesitate to throw herself into complete abandon."
Her side gig: Barner runs Amarantha: Witchcrafts, a home décor and accessory line crafted from natural elements with alleged healing properties. She recently crafted a massive dreamcatcher that was part of a set design for Montreal musician Anachnid.
Career goals: Barner would love to pursue choreography, but has an even bigger dream: an interactive museum. "I want to be able to put my poetry, my singing, my dance, my stage set design, my crafting abilities—all of my passions—in one place."