Throughout her years growing up at New York City Dance Alliance, Jacalyn Tatro has dominated the podium: In 2011, she was National Mini Outstanding Dancer, in 2014 she won National Teen Outstanding Dancer and in 2016 National Senior Outstanding Dancer.
It's easy to see why: Tatro dances with a maturity beyond her years—her performance quality has the kind of nuance that usually only comes from years of experience. She is just as skilled at whipping out high extensions and deep pliés as she is at giving each step its own flavor.
Her latest award? New York City Dance Alliance Foundation's Dance Magazine College Scholarship, worth $25,000. She tells us that she'll put it to good use this fall as a freshman at Juilliard.
How It Felt To Win $25,000
Although Tatro says that she was, of course, super proud to be named the Dance Magazine College Scholarship winner, her first thoughts went to the people who've helped her get to where she is. "I was so happy to win it for my mom and dad," she says. "They're helping me pay for Juilliard, and this is a huge thank you to them for everything they've done. And for my teacher to get that recognition for one of her students to win."
How She's Developed Such a Mature Performance Quality So Young
A quiet childhood led Tatro to express herself through dance. Photo courtesy NYCDA/Evolve Photo & Video
When asked about the secret to her success onstage, Tatro laughs. "I was always a quiet kid, verbally," she explains. "So all of my emotions and my expression came out in my dancing." Imbuing movement with what she's feeling has always been her favorite part of dancing, she says. "I always try to grow from that."
What Makes Her Most Excited to Attend Juilliard
Tatro is particularly excited to study new ballet and modern techniques. Photo courtesy NYCDA/Evolve Photo & Video
Going from a small-town competition studio to the country's most prestigious conservatory in the heart of the Big Apple is a big change, Tatro admits. "Moving away from everybody I've known, teachers I've danced with for 15 years, that makes me nervous," she says. But the leap is worth it: "Just to share the studio with people as focused and committed as I am, to learn from teachers and other students who are so open and welcoming and eager to learn, I feel so lucky. I'm already so obsessed."
Her Post-College Dance Dreams
Tatro is currently one of Dance Spirit's Cover Model Search finalists. Photo courtesy NYCDA/Evolve Photo & Video
What's her ultimate goal? "I don't know, I want to do it all!" says Tatro. "Honestly, figuring that out is part of why I'm excited to train at Juilliard."
Her Advice for Students Just Starting To Make College Decisions
Tatro suggests embracing your individuality and your unique path. Photo courtesy NYCDA/Evolve Photo & Video
"Don't stress as much as you probably are right now!" she says. "It's hard to get out of your head, to not only focus on one college because of what you think you want. But remember: There is someone out there who wants you and sees your potential and all the hard work you've done."