Photo by Rosalie O'Connor

When Danica Paulos left Southern California at 17 to train in New York City at The Ailey School while she finished high school, she had no idea that she'd be dancing with the professional company within four years. She completed the school's professional program (on scholarship), then landed a spot with Ailey II. After a year, she was invited to replace an injured dancer in the main company, and when her Ailey II season ended, Robert Battle invited her to continue full-time.

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Photo by Erin Baiano, courtesy of NYCB

Lauren Lovette is having a good year. Maybe too good—after creating her first ballet for New York City Ballet last fall, For Clara, she realized she'd checked one of the last items off her dance bucket list. "Once you choreograph on New York City Ballet, you're like, 'Well, I didn't dream past this,'" says the NYCB principal. "It made me feel a little lost. I thought I was dreaming the highest I could. That's what I'm trying to figure out this year—what else do I want?" For starters, she wants to choreograph more. She'll get that chance this month, when she shares a program with three other female dancemakers at the Vail International Dance Festival in Colorado on August 7.

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