By Kristy Johnson.
Behind Britney’s Circus lies a team of incredible dancers and entertainers. Dancing for Britney Spears and esteemed choreographer Jamie King is the crème de la crème of the commercial dance scene. Hear what Britney’s dancers had to share with Dance Informa on their recent tour across Australia.
How do you find touring as a professional dancer?
Justin De Vera:
“It’s really like being on the job 24/7. You always have to be prepared for whatever may come up. It gets tiring at times with all the traveling, but it’s all worth it in the end. Not many people get to travel the world whilst doing something they love.”
“This is my first tour and all I can say is that it’s been the most amazing experience that I’ve had as a professional dancer. I think it’s something that every professional dancer should experience, if they have the opportunity. There’s so much excitement to it! It’s so crazy to perform every night in front of thousands of people. I love that feeling!”
What advice would you give to aspiring dancers who’d like to tour with recording artists?
“Work hard, learn as many styles as you can, and remember it’s the dancing part you love and not the final goal that you should always focus on. Honestly, you could be the best dancer at every audition and never get booked because you just never know what the artist or choreographer is looking for. Just keep doing what you love to do and eventually the right job at the right time will happen.”
“Never give up on your dream even if it seems like there’s no light in the tunnel. Don’t limit yourself to one dance style. The more versatile you are in this industry the better off you are. And lastly, networking is a must.”
What do you enjoy most about being a dancer for Britney?
Marc ‘Marvelous’ Inniss:
“This is definitely one of the biggest productions I’ve ever worked with! In this show I get to be a different character in every number. I love challenges and this show was a big one for me, mainly because of my background and style of dance. Being an underground dancer from Brooklyn, I would have never imagined dancing for the Princess of Pop. It is an amazing blessing to be here. I thank God and I thank her.”
Jozsef ‘Joe’ Krausz:
“I was hired halfway through the tour as a Swing and had to learn the whole show in a week. So far, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life but I’m thankful to be a part of such a great project and group of friends. Although I’m not on the road with them most of the time, I still have confidence and pride knowing I’m part of Britney’s show in some way. The rehearsals I had to go through and the one time on stage really changed my life as a dancer.”
“Wow, there’s so much. My favorite thing is feeding off her energy. I love that feeling! It’s amazing to perform next to her.”
Have all of the dancers in the Australian tour been featured in at least one of Britney’s film clips?
John Paul ‘JP’ San Pedro: “Yes, all of the dancers have at one point or another been featured in her clips. It’s great to see how each dancer is featured and utilized, because we are all so different and unique.”
How do you find film clip work, compared to dancing on the stage?
“I like to do videos. It’s obviously not the same adrenaline you feel from being on stage, but at least everyone you know can see your work. They both require a lot of stamina. When you do a concert, you’re dancing for ninety plus minutes with costume changes and all. When you do videos, you have to build your stamina. You have to do a dance sequence over and over again, and then again from a different camera angle. Therefore both are very specific.”
Tell us about your training. Did you attend a full-time course?
Luke Broadlick: “I started off doing Martial Arts and then got into tricks and flips
(my specialty) and from there got into Breaking and so on.”
Justin De Vera:
“I first started out my dance training with Tap and Hip Hop. I then progressed into studying Ballet, Jazz and Contemporary. I trained at a studio near my house for the most part and then after high school I went off to study in college at the University of Arizona. I think being able to do a variety of styles really helps you out in the end because it opens up doors to more opportunities.”
“Well, I first started learning choreography at the age of 12/13 at my junior high school and my instructor took a liking to me. I was privileged to meet and learn from the great Mr Wiggles. Living in Brooklyn and with my family being West Indian, I was into a lot of Dancehall Reggae music. I ended up being part of a show in Brooklyn called ‘Flex N Brooklyn’ that created another dance style we call Flexing, which evolved from a style called ‘The Bruk Up’ from Jamaica. I and a few others from Brooklyn continue to do Flexing. Many artists took notice of my style and loved it.”
“I’ve trained in Jazz, Hip Hop, Latin, Partnering, Jazz Funk and a few other styles. I never trained in Ballet. I do regret that sometimes. I think it’s very important as a dancer to have that base.”
“I first trained in Chinese cultural dance from a young age and then picked up Ballet and Jazz when I got older. I graduated from the University of California Irvine with a Bachelor degree in Dance. That is where I learned how to do Modern and Contemporary, and where I joined my crew Kaba Modern and learned how to do Hip Hop. Although Contemporary and Hip Hop were the styles I found last, they are the styles I love and are the most comfortable with.”
“Sad to say I’m not trained in Classical Ballet nor Jazz. I started training in Hip Hop at the age of 15 and from there I went to dance conventions such as Monsters of Hip Hop and Hollywood Connections. I got my full-time training with a crew known as Boogie Monstarz located in Northern California. The instructor of the crew is Phil Tyag and he is a former member/creator of the Jabbawockeez crew.”
JP San Pedro:
“I’ve learned the majority of my skills through watching and freestyling; a lot of my skills are self-taught. I think of dance as acting. Acting in a sense is being a character and that is how I’ve trained myself. I studied what I saw in music videos and award shows. That was the only exposure I had to the professional world of dance. After being scouted by Clear Talent Group, I decided to commit myself to train in the professional world. I moved to Los Angeles to train with top choreographers and learn some basic Jazz. All other forms of dancing I have self-adapted through choreography on jobs that call for those specific styles. I only started training professionally after my first gig in the motion picture You Got Served.”
What is next for you after the conclusion of the tour? Would you be keen to take more of an active role in teaching as opposed to solely performing?
“I enjoy teaching, but that’s not my calling. I love to perform. I will be going back to Los Angeles with a new agent and a new look, so I’m excited to see what happens.”
“Yes, I am actually considering teaching more now than before. It’s amazing to teach young people what I know. I’m still young myself but with nearly seven years in the industry I know I’ve been blessed with my own style and it can be inspirational to others, so why not help out? I might take maybe one more tour after this one and work on more workshops around the world.”
“I really love to teach and dance. Recently dance has been more in the works for me than teaching. Right now my focus is on dance to build my résumé and gain as much experience as I can. After that, teach when I have more time and have more knowledge about any kind of dance/style. The next thing after this is to try and spend a little more time with my family and friends. Also to look out for the next gig and keep it pushin’!”
“When this tour is over I will definitely continue to audition and perform but teaching dance has always been a big part of my love of dance. I will continue to do both for as long as my body allows me to.”
“After the tour I have to be back on the grind! Get back to business and find another tour or anything. Try my acting and dancing out. Why stop now? I can sleep in heaven.”
“In this industry you never know your next job. All you can do is stay on the grind and keep your face out in the open and wait for your agent to email you about the next audition. As far as teaching goes…well let’s just say I love to teach and give back to my community. I’m currently working on getting connected with other dance studios in different areas around the world so I can share my style with others and share about the industry and what it takes to survive as a professional dancer in Los Angeles.”
JP San Pedro:
“I will be touring the world holding workshops, teaching Hip Hop and spreading my knowledge of dance and the skills I have picked up through my personal journey as a professional dancer and choreographer. It’s going to be another amazing year! I currently juggle the two avenues. I’m constantly holding and instructing Hip Hop workshops, working on side choreography projects, and dancing on tour with Britney. I love doing both teaching and performing, what more could I ask for than to be able to have the opportunity to do so simultaneously? I love what I do… to entertain and create.”
Very top photo: Britney and her dancers just two hours before her Friday night show at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. Photo by Roderick Norman Trestail II, courtesy of www.britneyspears.com