When I was 16 and studying ballet in NYC, I was one of about 12 dancers cast in a TV commercial with music producer Quincy Jones. It was the perfect job: I got to fly to L.A., work with the celebrated choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett and dance on a soundstage—and I was paid, too! I even sat across from Patrick Dempsey in the airport as I waited for my connecting flight home. It was a storybook experience.
But the reality of working consistently in the City of Angels and earning a living as a full-time commercial dancer can be very different. You may land a featured spot in a movie, print ad, music video or tour, but when it’s over, you’re auditioning again.
For those who are up for the challenge, the rewards can be great. They’re being cast by the best choreographers in the business and strutting their stuff alongside the biggest personalities in Hollywood, and they’re often traveling the world, too.
This issue of Dance Spirit celebrates L.A.! First, in Tim O’Shei’s “Kickin’ It With KayCee” (p. 78) KayCee Stroh talks about landing her spot in High School Musical 3. She also opens up about what it’s like being a size 12 in a size 00 Hollywood. Then hear about her oh-so-famous cast mates and their dancing abilities in “Caps Off to High School Musical 3” (p. 82). In “Livin’ La Vida L.A.” (p. 88) Sarah Christine Smith writes about her first year in Hollywood. It wasn’t easy, but she’s since performed with Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Carrie Underwood. And in “My L.A. Day” (p. 94), glean advice from pro Sandra Colton. Her biggest tip for dancers who want to break out of the background? Acting classes.Plus, Sascha Radetsky writes a letter to his teenage self (p. 46). Remember when Sascha crossed over to Hollywood to play Charlie Sims in Center Stage? Now he’s a principal dancer with the Dutch National Ballet.
On page 64, plunge into “Calendar Girls,” DS’ annual costume preview. This year, style editor Lauren Levinson has packed our pages with charming looks for every month of the year.
Last but not least, November is election month, which means that those of us who are 18 and older get to grand jeté to the polls to cast our votes for President! In “Dancing to the Polls” (p. 104) DS contributing editor Kristin Lewis talks to a handful of pros to find out how politics impacts their lives. Plus, think performance pieces can’t be political? Not true! Some of the most compelling works in dance history were made in response to politics. DS’ list is just a taster menu, so if you don’t see your favorite there, please let us know. If we get enough responses, we’ll keep a running list on our website.
So begin prepping your resumé for that dream L.A. gig, keep practicing your tendues and for goodness’ sake, on November 4th, VOTE!