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Volume 24, Number 8 — August 2017

Arts for Youth Spotlight: Isabelle Karren

She loves to Isabelle Karren lives to dance and sing

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | June 25, 2014

Isabelle Karren loves to sing and dance. She says she has been "singing since I could talk and dancing since I could walk. I love them both. They are both such a part of me."

Isabelle began dancing at a studio when she was 2. "I was constantly asking my mom to video me singing and dancing all day, every day, so she decided I was ready for class. I have studied all genres, ballet, contemporary, lyrical jazz and tap."

Her favorite is tap. "We do a more contemporary urban-style tap. You get to pick out your own rhythms. And instead of just dancing to the music, you are actually making part of the music with your feet."

Isabelle studies at Revolution Dance and Gymnastics in Gray, Tennessee.

"My mom and her friend opened the studio for their daughters," Isabelle says. "Our moms give us such amazing opportunities, like bringing celebrity choreographers in from all over the country. They work really hard to give us the same benefits as studios in big cities. We are so lucky to have the amazing teachers we have. They always make technique and ballet a priority, which really teaches us to respect and appreciate the art. But most importantly, they always talk about the importance of being good people. In fact, next year our team will be focusing on serving others in our community and that will be the theme of our recital. We will serve at local nursing homes and homeless shelters. We are also excited to teach a flash mob dance to Girls on the Run, a group that promotes positive self-esteem in young girls. We are so excited to share our talents to help others."

She has studied in Pennsylvania, Arizona and California. "The teachers I have had and the girls I have danced with have all shaped me in a different way. But most importantly, they have taught me to love the art of dance. I have worked with Stacy Bills and Witney Carson from "So You Think You Can Dance' and "Dancing with the Stars.' My tap choreographer is Nick DiNicolangelo from Adreneline in New Jersey. My current teacher, Lindsey Kelley, is a ballet and modern dancer from Asheville, North Carolina, who has her own company. The girls I have danced with are my best friends. I love that we can all be so supportive of each other. I love that I have been able to have such a diverse group influence my journey. They are all so amazing and such inspirations to me."

Isabelle will be studying in Los Angeles this summer. She received a partial scholarship during a competition, Star Talent, in Knoxville, Tenn., to study at "Superstar Summer in LA Dance Intensive," hosted by Be Discovered. She will study with teachers who choreograph and train entertainers such as Madonna, Janet Jackson, Prince, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and many more. She will also appear in a music video starring Fergie. In addition to dance, she will work with vocal coaches and music professionals from "The Voice." She has been studying voice since she was 7.

"Winning meant more to me than just scoring or placing well, because I think that dance is more than that. It is very rewarding to be recognized by the judges for expressing emotion and connection. It is a major compliment to hear that out of the whole competition, they felt that you "lit up the stage.' To make someone really feel means that I was able to share the art rather than just the choreography. For me, that is what it is all about.

"Although I work really hard to improve my technique, I find the most joy in expressing how the music makes me feel. I don't think it is just about steps or tricks. It's even more about expressing emotion or telling a story. I love feeling connected to the song and the choreography and really making it my own. It never feels like work, it is fun for me."

Isabelle isn't sure what she wants to do when she is an adult, but she knows that it will include dancing and singing. "I have never sought after fame. I think it is actually sometimes hard to keep the art intact when you are trying to conform to what will sell or score well. Singing and dancing will always be a part of my life. Sharing that with others will too. But whether that is being a dance teacher, singing at church or working in the industry, I'm not sure. I think when you just share what you feel inside it, it's more genuine and when people enjoy that, it makes it that much more awesome."

Isabelle is 12 years old and attends Liberty Bell Middle School in Johnson City, Tenn. She is the daughter of Ben and Kate Karren. She has an online fundraiser to raise the rest of the cost of her trip to Los Angeles. Details can be seen at www.gofundme.com/9sdowk.




Isabelle Karren in action.