Courtesy of NBC

World of Dance's 14 Year Old Star Eva Igo on Her Toughest Competition Yet

If you've been keeping up with World of Dance, you're well aware that junior division competitor Eva Igo has established herself as a serious contender. Groomed on the competition scene, the 14-year-old Minnesota native traveled to Los Angeles with her mom, taking the stage alongside some of the industry's most established names in dance—and she's killing it.

"Growing up in competitions, I had experience with having judges in front of me, so that helped me deal with the pressure," Igo tells us on how she remained so poised during her performances for The Qualifiers and The Duels (she beat out hip-hop duo KynTay). "That experience really helped me know when to have my competitor mode on."

Completely blowing the judges away with her mix of technique, tricks and stage presence (judge Derek Hough declared it "Eva's world" after her Duel solo to the song "It's A Man's World"), Igo makes each performance look effortless. "When I'm learning the dance, I have a story in mind and I relate it back to my life," Igo explains on how she taps into the emotive side of her dancing. "Before I perform the dance, I'll really think about that and try to just take a breath while I'm on stage."


Since the show was pre-recorded, Igo found herself juggling school work with the competition. "I would get up really, really early and do three or four hours of online school," she says on her daily routine. "I would do extra work on the days I wasn't performing so that I didn't have to worry about that when I got in front of the judges. After school work, I had rehearsal space to practice my solos with supervising choreographers like Nappytabs, Tessandra Chavez, Kyle Hanagami, Anthony Kin—they're all back there helping us."

As the remaining Duel challenges play out and she waits to tackle The Cut round, Igo raves about the entire experience. "Every single thing the judges said has been helpful," she says, adding that World of Dance also introduced her to new friends like fellow Junior-level competitor Diana Pombo. "All of it has been exciting—having the audience chanting my name after performing was especially cool." And if past performances are anything to go by, we have a feeling we'll be hearing more chants for Igo as the series unfolds.

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Brandt in Giselle. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT

Skylar Brandt's Taste in Music Is as Delightful as Her Dancing

American Ballet Theatre soloist Skylar Brandt's dancing is clean, precise and streamlined. It's surprising, then, to learn that her taste in music is "all over the place," she says. (Even more surprising is that Brandt, who has an Instagram following of over 80k, is "in the dark ages" when it comes to her music, and was buying individual songs on iTunes up until a year ago, when her family intervened with an Apple Music plan.)

Though what she's listening to at any given time can vary dramatically, the through-line for Brandt is nostalgia: songs that take her back, whether to childhood, a favorite movie or a piece she's recently performed. Brandt told us about her eclectic taste, and made us a playlist that will keep you guessing:

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Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

NYCDA Is Redefining the Convention Scene Through Life-Changing Opportunities

Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.

"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."

Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.

Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:

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Courtesy The Joyce

Dance Magazine Chairman's Award Honoree: Linda Shelton

In an industry that has been clamoring for more female leadership, Linda Shelton, executive director of New York City's The Joyce Theater Foundation since 1993, has been setting an example for decades. As a former general manager of The Joffrey Ballet, U.S. tour manager for the Bolshoi Ballet, National Endowment for the Arts panelist, Dance/NYC board member and Benois de la Danse judge, as well as a current Dance/USA board member, Shelton has served as a global leader in dance. In her tenure at The Joyce, she has not only increased the venue's commissioned programming, but also started presenting beyond The Joyce's walls in locations such as Lincoln Center.

What brought you to The Joyce?

That was many years ago, but it's still the same today: It's a belief in and passion for the mission of the theater, which is to support dance in all of its forms and varieties—every kind of dance that you could imagine.

Diversity is so important in dance leadership today. How do you approach this at The Joyce?

Darren Walker said something interesting at a Dance/NYC Symposium, which was that The Joyce is a disruptor. It was nice to hear in that context, because we don't think of it as something new. We didn't have to change our mission statement to be more diverse. We've been doing this since day one.

Is drawing in new audiences and maintaining longtime supporters ever in conflict?

Of course. I call it the blessing and the curse of our mission. We do present more experimental companies that may attract a younger audience. But it's very tricky. You're not going to tell your long-term audience, "Don't come and see this because you're not going to like the music." We've had people walk out of the theater before, but it's a response. It's important to spark those conversations.

What experimenting have you done?

We've tried a "pay what you decide" ticket the past couple of seasons with some of our more adventurous programming. You would reserve your seat for a dollar and after seeing the show pay what you decide is right for you.

Do you have advice for other dance presenters?

Find opportunities to sit with colleagues from around the country. At Dance/USA there's a presenters' council where we come together and talk about what we're putting in our seasons and what we're passionate about. Maybe there are enough presenters to collaborate and make it possible to bring a company to New York or to do a tour around the country.

Also, remember what it's all about: making that connection between what's onstage and the audience. If we can do that, despite every visa issue and missed flight and injury and changed program and whatever else comes our way, then we should feel good about the job we're doing.

To purchase tickets to the Dance Magazine Awards or become a sponsor, visit dancemediafoundation.org.

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