Selene Haro has the kind of star power that can carry a show. It's not so much that she commands the stage, but that she warmly invites the audience to experience the performance through her. In off-Broadway's Beyond Babel, for instance, Haro's petite frame hit each beat with exactness, cutting jaggedly through space with Keone and Mari Madrid's notoriously detailed choreography.
Notable professional work: Former member of Choreo Cookies
Hometown: Vista, California
Training: Studio 429 (Encinitas, California)
Getting started: Financial constraints made training impossible until Haro auditioned for the hip-hop–based Studio 429 at age 15. "I went with no expectations," says Haro, who danced with the team for three years. In 2013, she was invited to join Choreo Cookies, a popular adult competition team.
Selene Haro in Beyond Babel
Aidan Gibney, Courtesy Press Room
Choosing dance: Her initial career goal was to become an Air Force flight nurse, so she joined the ROTC while studying pre-nursing. But during her sophomore year, she had to step out of college. "My mom was incarcerated for tax reasons, and my dad isn't financially stable, so I had to work while taking care of my two younger siblings and dancing at night," says Haro. By the time her mom came back two years later, dance had become such a big part of her life that she decided to see how far it could take her.
Finding her voice: "I grew into an adult during my time on Cookies," Haro says. "I gained my voice as a leader, and I realized how in control of myself I really am."
Key to the world: Choreo Cookies provided Haro with countless dance-world connections. "I started posting my work, and people asked me to teach and choreograph." She's taught in New Zealand, Indonesia, Switzerland, Spain, China and Russia.
Expanding her horizons: Haro landed a spot in the pre-Broadway run of the new Britney Spears musical, Once Upon a One More Time. "I don't come from a singing background or read music," she says. "The cast members have helped me learn these new skills, and I've helped them with their physicality." Though the Chicago run was canceled due to the coronavirus, she hopes to join the cast on Broadway.
What the Madrids are saying: "If there's anyone in the world to be a conduit to our style, Selene is absolutely near the top," Keone says. "Selene was on our minds as soon as we decided to make a full-length dance-theater show," Mari adds. "She is not only an exceptional mover, unique and in touch with herself, but also an amazing storyteller."