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  • Writer's pictureCorinne Baldwin

You're a Professional Dancer...What Is It That You're ACTUALLY Doing???

My Dance Journey in LA So Far

If you didn’t see the big neon sign in the room, I’M A DANCER!

Everyone’s shocked, right? Lol. But for those of you who may be new here, hi, I’m a dancer and have been dancing since I was three years old.

My dance journey started in pre-school ballet and tap classes and has evolved to me being a professional dancer in Los Angeles. However, the road in between those two points of my life has a LOT going on. 

A good friend of mine named Kristen, who I met on a dance job when I was living in Tennessee, asked me what my dance journey has looked like so far in Los Angeles. This blog could be miles long, so be prepared. It’s been a great journey, but a tough one at that, and I’m hopeful that the road continues on for many more miles than this blog could ever think about going on for!

When I first moved to LA, I immediately started training. I had to figure out which teachers I wanted to take class from, so I started by taking a whole lot of classes. I was also working out often and trying to stay in good shape to dance my best in class and at any open calls.

I then got a Backstage account and was self-submitting for as many dance jobs as I possibly could. I came across a submission for an immersive experience event called DiscOasis about a month after I moved to LA, and I got cast in the show as a dancer. This show was a contracted show, so it provided me with a long term dance job as I was trying to find my way through this city!

While I was working for DiscOasis, I also got cast in my first commercial! It was for Got Milk and the NFL starring various NFL players, including Juju Smith-Shuster. It was choreographed by the legendary Phil Wright, whom I had actually met before in a private dance class a few years back.

Soon after booking these jobs, I was signed by my first LA dance agency! Getting signed allowed me the opportunity for more dance auditions and gave me a direct contact for ways to develop my dance career. 

Over the course of the next year, I auditioned for tours, music videos, commercials, print work, and more. And in the midst of all of this, I also booked another immersive theatre show called Elf on the Shelf, based on the kids’ toy. I was a principal dancer in the show, and it was another contracted role. It was another great experience to add to the resume!

The next part of my LA dance journey is one of my favorites so far, and I get a little emotional thinking about it! 6 months after moving to LA, I heard from a friend that a contemporary dance program was auditioning new dancers to be a part of their collective. The directors of the program were two women whom I had seen out and about in the dance industry as teachers and choreographers, but I had never met them. I soon met the women who would become my mentors in Lume Dance Collective – MaryAnn Chavez and Monika Felice Smith. I made it into the program, and that was only the beginning of me finding my family away from home!

I’ve since done tons of projects with Lume, including several concept videos and two full length shows. Aside from that, I’ve made some of my best friends and gotten the chance to train and perform alongside them. 

Then, I took a big leap of faith in my LA dance journey and auditioned for the LA Clippers Spirit Dance Team of the NBA. I went to one of the audition workshops that the team hosted to feel more acclimated to the team’s style, and then went to the open call audition in July 2022. I made the team!

This felt like a huge accomplishment in my career. I had danced for another NBA team for years and always had admired Clippers Spirit, and now I was on the team that I had admired for so long. 

This job has been the hardest, but most rewarding job ever. Being the best dance team in the NBA has lots of high expectations, and I have consistently worked hard to rise to the occasion. I’ve learned nearly 50 routines, trained vigorously at least twice a week for two years, worked with renowned industry choreographers, and danced in front of 20,000 people multiple times each season. Between the last two seasons on the team, I’ve learned from Bam Martin, Delaney Glazer, Ysabelle Capitule, Gabe de Guzman, Marlee Hightower, Jared Jenkins, Hi-Hat, GRV, and soooo many more.

My rookie season, the team also got to dance for both Missy Elliott and Rico Nasty. I had always dreamed of dancing with artists in the industry, and Clippers Spirit gave me the opportunity to experience that. When we danced for Missy, we even performed alongside her original dancers. It was epic!

Shortly after I started dancing with the Clippers, I also signed to my current agency – Bloc Talent Agency. I’m now represented for both dance and musical theatre, and I’m auditioning and submitting for tons of jobs alongside the help from my agents! Some of my favorite auditions I’ve had so far include Mean Girls the Musical and Chicago.

My agents also landed me my first leading role in a commercial, which was such a cool experience! I got to film the commercial itself, social media content, and a voiceover. It gave me lots of experiences all wrapped into one job, which was super cool.

Another aspect of my dance life that I’ve taken on since moving to LA is that I judge for dance competitions! I was a competition kid growing up, and this is something I had always wanted to do. My roommate reached out to me one day and said that a competition that she was judging for needed a replacement judge in Las Vegas that weekend, and I jumped at the opportunity to take that job on. Since then, I’ve begun working for three dance competitions adjudicating dancers and giving them feedback on how to improve, and it’s truly the most inspiring job I’ve ever had. I love getting to travel across the country and see what different dancers have been learning, practicing, and performing throughout their seasons. 

Along with judging, I’ve also started teaching on one of my competition company’s convention circuits! I was one of the jazz teachers for Groove Dance Convention this past year, and I got to teach kids aged 5-18 in Boston and King of Prussia. This might be one of my favorite jobs I have ever had. It’s taught me that teaching is a mutual exchange – I hope to inspire the dancers with my movement and education, but they also actively inspire me to continue learning and developing myself as an educator. I strive to give them the best education that I possibly can in order to help form them into the next generation of dancers. The reality is that most of the kids that I teach won’t go on to lead professional dance careers, but I can only hope that by being a part of their dance journeys, I can inspire them to believe in themselves and work for what they are passionate towards.

Now, let’s be real. Yes, I just went through my accomplishments and what I have worked on in the dance world since moving to LA. But a career in dance is so much more than what goes on the resume. I audition and self-submit for soooo many jobs weekly. And most of these auditions give me the hard “no.” When people say that 99% of the auditions you go on will be rejections, they aren’t joking. Rejection is a natural part of being a professional dancer, and I have come to accept that.

I’ve been focused a lot on alignment this year, and when I’m auditioning and submitting things and get rejected from the job, I verbally tell myself, “That’s not the job for me.” And it feels really good knowing and reassuring myself that the right jobs will come and the wrong jobs will not.

My journey as a professional dancer still feels like it’s in the early stages. I’m so grateful for the opportunities, both in training and in work, that I’ve had so far. But I’m also so excited for what’s to come. Dance is all about evolution and growth and the journey, and I know my dance story will continue with new opportunities that will further shape the dancer that I am. 

So stay tuned for the rest of the journey ;)

What’s something that you’ve always wondered about being a professional dancer?

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