Marlee Hightower, age 15
From America's Got Talent, Season 5, Top 5, Marlee Hightower is the youngest member of the celebrated hip hop crew, Studio One Young Beast Society. At the tender age of 10, Marlee performed with Studio One, and the top 10 of America's Got Talent, on a 26 city national tour.
Studio One, was originally a traveling, audition-only competition dance team, from Orlando, Florida, comprised of all ages and ethnicities. They mixed street jazz, hip hop, and acrobatics, and won titles all over the country.
At age 8, Marlee made the team, and quickly became a mainstay in the group. In 2010, the team’s coach, Julie Johnson, took the top 8 dancers from Studio One, ranging in age from 10-21, (4 boys and 4 girls, including Marlee) and formed the “Young Beast Society” — a name coined by Marlee’s dad. They went on to make America’s Got Talent history, as the first dance group ever to make it to the top 48 — and eventually the top 5.
The crew would appear on 9 shows, losing the top 4 spot, to blacklight performance group, Fighting Gravity. After being eliminated, Studio One was asked to remain an additional week, and close out the finale with one last performance. Then the winners were declared — singer Michael Grimm, and runner up, 10 year old opera singer, Jackie Evancho. It was their highest rated season, to date.
It was on that show that Marlee met legendary dancer/choreographer, Brian Friedman. "Artists like Marlee don't come along very often! She is far beyond her age in terms of ability, and the truth is, she can out-dance most adults! I can't wait for the opportunity to work with this young BEAST again!" – Brian Friedman, The Pulse creative director, former artistic director for America's Got Talent and X-Factor/X-Factor UK
After the AGT tour, Marlee decided to try her hand at choreography. With the help of her parents, she made her first YouTube dance video — a freestyle to Jesse J’s “Do It Like A Dude”. After the video received over 1 million views, promoters and studio owners began to take notice, requesting she come and teach class.
At age 11, Marlee began making solo appearances, on the World of Dance tour, as well as teaching workshops across the country.
Marlee took her first dance class at age 3. Fluent in all styles of hip hop, including popping, locking, waacking, and house, Marlee has been fortunate to train with some of the best, and most sought-after choreographers in the nation. Marlee has been awarded several scholarships, from local studios, as well as Monsters of Hip Hop, Broadway Dance Center NY, Young Lions Workshops, and The Pulse. Although she teaches, she continues to train, and evolve as a dancer.
In 2013, World of Dance nominated Marlee for, "Teen Choreographer of the Year", alongside Chachi Gonzales (IaMmE, ABDC 6) and powerhouse Kaelynn "Kay Kay" Gobert-Harris (8 Flavahz, ABDC 7, Usher).
2013 also marked the year Marlee signed with Bloc, a prestigious dance/talent agency in Los Angeles. Marlee has been blessed to work on several national commercials and videos for companies such as Samsung, Mattel, and Party City, and even landed a cameo in Pharrel William’s star-studded “Happy” video.
Based in Orlando, Marlee spends part of the year in Los Angeles, working on new projects, taking class, and pursuing her latest artistic endeavor — singing/songwriting. Coming from a family of singers and musicians, this is no surprise. Marlee is currently working with several producers, crafting her sound and brand, and hopes to release something later in the year.
In addition to singing and dancing, Marlee enjoys fashion, filmmaking, and photography — taking inspiration from all things art.
In 2015, Marlee was offered her own show on the popular World of Dance Network, entitled "Under The Influence". This weekly web series highlights how music and art inspires dancers, creatives…and Marlee!