Amidst a number of talented young competitors in the premiere episode of So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation, Ava Cota quickly established herself as a standout. The 13-year-old probably looks familiar to Dance Moms fans — she was a member of the ALDC's Select Ensemble team in Season 4 and also appeared in several Season 5 episodes when she competed for Candy Apples Dance Studio and Broadway Dance Academy. It may be early in the season, but I definitely think Ava's past dances prove she could win So You Think You Can Dance and she's a dancer to watch closely.
As she explained in her audition, Ava's height of 5'10 and her long legs mean that certain dance moves are challenging — but she hasn't let that stop her from pursuing her passion. She wants to show everyone that you can do what you love even if you don't fit the cookie cutter mold of the "ideal" dancer body type. The judges gave her a resounding "yes" to move on to the next round and offered words of support and empathy, so it's clear that they see Ava's potential and are eager for her to thrive this season.
Based on her audition and the following eight dances from the past several years, I think Ava can definitely win So You Think You Can Dance and it would be incredibly well-deserved.
1. "Strange Fruit"
Ava performed this solo at the KAR Dance Convention in January. Her flexibility, grace, and clean lines make her a joy to watch.
2. "The Myth Of The Mermaid"
Luckily for viewers, Ava continued to appear on Dance Moms after leaving the ALDC. This contemporary solo earned her first place in the junior division.
3. "With You"
This solo showcases her beautiful turns and extensions. Being tall makes it harder to control certain dance moves, but you'd never know it from watching Ava.
4. "Hurtful Words"
As Ava told the So You Think You Can Dance judges, she's been bullied by people who tell her she's too tall and too skinny. "Hurtful Words," which won first place during a Season 5 episode of Dance Moms, was about the painful topic of bullying and she portrayed a range of emotions beautifully throughout the routine.
5. "The Prayer"
It's hard to believe, but Ava was only 10 years old when she performed "The Prayer" at NUVO Dance Convention. It shows that she's been destined for stardom for a long time.
6. "Shine On Me"
Ava is also a talented singer and she performed this solo to a song that she wrote and recorded herself.
7. "Amazing Grace"
This routine has it all — a perfect turn sequence, flexibility, and great jumps. It's hard to believe Ava was only nine years old in this performance. (Yes, really!)
8. Contemporary Combo
Ava recently shared this contemporary combo on her YouTube channel. Her technique and emotion are beautiful and if she performs like this throughout the season, I'll be shocked if she doesn't bring home the top prize.
In the positive, supportive environment of So You Think You Can Dance, I can't wait to see what Ava achieves.
Image: Adam Rose/FOX