Leilana Majri - June 2015 Judges' Choice

I started dancing when I was 7, taking jazz classes. Two years later, I started ballet and never looked back. I currently study dance at Marat Daukayev School of Ballet in Los Angeles. Before, joining MDSB, I received my RAD certification for Intermediate level. I like Vaganova style because of its fast pace.

I focus on ballet and modern at my main studio but I just culminated from LAUSD Millikan Middle School Performing Arts Academy and over the past three years, I’ve taken cultural classes, hip hop, jazz, musical theater, etc.

I would like to acknowledge Hai Cohen and Indira Tyler for their guidance in this year. Hai Cohen has made me stronger and helped unlock my potential as a dancer. Indira Tyler was my teacher for the past two years in middle school and this piece was originally made for a choreography project in her class.

Of course, without Mr. Marat Daukayev classes, I wouldn't be as strong of a dancer. I’ve improved my technique so much thanks to his corrections given in class.

I chose this music for this piece because I liked the artist and the message it sends. She seems to stay true to who she is as a person and her lyrics are something that everyone can relate to. They make you not want to give up. This work started as a 8th grade choreography project with my friend Charlotte. After school was over, I decided to reconfigure the dance so that it only included parts I choreographed. To fill up the gaps, I added new moves that I couldn't previously incorporate with a partner.

I am a somewhat shy person and I like to express myself through movements. I like the fact that there is always something you can learn and improve upon when you dance. The satisfaction after class, knowing that I did better makes me happy.

Something that inspires me to choreograph is the connection between the music and the movements. I like to incorporate techniques and styles of famous choreographers or teachers along with my own movements. Since I love reading, I’ve also enjoyed learning more about the choreography through books.

Even though I was accepted to ABT California summer intensive, I chose to attend Marat Daukayev Intensive this summer because it is a strong program and in town which saves money!

In the past (with previous studios) I have attended KAR, Spotlight, Rainbow, etc competitions and YAGP in a group. While those experiences were fun, taking classes and improving my technique is my priority but because my focus is ballet and contemporary/modern I do want to attend YAGP as a soloist when finances are less of an obstacle. This scholarship will help a lot!

This fall, I will be attending a local HS focusing on dance while continuing my training at MDSB. I hope to attend Martha Graham program in the near future as she is my main inspiration. I hope to join a contemporary ballet company. I am also interested in teaching ballet and Graham technique.