At the end of Jordan Pelliteri’s solo The Sculptress, she extends her right leg through a perfect développé à la seconde, rising to relevé as her foot reaches her ear. Just when it seems like she’s never going to come down, the music fades, and she drops her arms and slowly lowers her leg, controlling every minuscule movement. It’s a moment of both beautiful vulnerability and jaw-dropping virtuosity.
That’s typical of Jordan, who relishes choreography that pushes her to her limits. In a sense it’s a metaphor for the way the 18-year-old approaches life in general: She’s an artist with unrelenting drive.
Jordan trains full-time at Plumb Performing Arts Center in Scottsdale, AZ, which is run by her mom, Lisa Pelliteri. After winning New York City Dance Alliance’s National Teen Outstanding Dancer title in 2012, Jordan, then a sophomore, decided to concentrate fully on dance and enroll in an online high school program, despite the challenges that come with being homeschooled. “It’s definitely harder to learn the lessons myself without a real teacher,” she says. “But balancing touring and school was almost impossible.” Now, Jordan does her schoolwork at a nearby learning center from 8 am until just before 2 pm, when she walks to the dance studio for her daily two-hour private lesson, followed by ballet class and rehearsal.
Last summer, Jordan was named NYCDA’s 2014 National Senior Outstanding Dancer, and over the course of the year she’s visited more than 20 cities with the convention. (That was on top of competing with her home studio at NYCDA and other events, including NUVO Dance Convention.) She thrives on the intensity. “If there’s a day I’m not in the studio, I freak out,” she says. “I’m obsessive about it. And I never settle for anything. If something’s not good enough, I won’t stop until I get it right.”
Jordan’s summers are just as packed as her school year. This season, on top of Nationals, she attended Complexions Contemporary Ballet’s program in NYC, and she’s hoping to travel to Amsterdam for Nederlands Dans Theater’s two-week intensive this August. (She dreams of dancing for both companies one day.) Then, she’ll pack her bags for college: She’s headed to Marymount Manhattan College in NYC, as a part of the incoming class of 2019.
“Jordan is the most focused dancer I know. She’s a very kind person who just happens to be freakishly talented. She always makes sure the other dancers are taken care of first. She’s the perfect role model.”
—Andy Pellick, New York City Dance Alliance faculty member
January 14, 1997
Favorite TV shows: “Gossip Girl,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Criminal Minds”
Favorite movies: The Shining and We’re the Millers
Biggest fear: Elevators. “I’m really claustrophobic—it’s my worst nightmare to be stuck in one. I always prefer to take the stairs if I can.”
Dance crushes: Misty Copeland and Andy Pellick
Cats or dogs? “I have three cocker spaniels named Callie, Jack and Jamie.”
Favorite celebrities she follows on Instagram: Leighton Meester and Ed Westwick
Best dance trait: “I’m good at connecting with the audience and making eye contact.”
Worst dance habit: “Raising my shoulders”