Jordan Francis is sitting on air! That’s the illusion, at least, as he leaps from a trampoline, lifts his legs parallel to the ground and reaches out to touch his toes. When he lands softly on stage, Jordan shows off his classical training with a quick, precise turn. He follows that with one of his freestyle street stunts, a one-armed stall. These diverse moves are all front and center as Jordan plays Barron James in the 2008 Disney Channel movie Camp Rock, a role he’ll reprise in Camp Rock 2. With a big-screen hit and TV and theater work under his belt, this commercial chameleon is on the rise.
Jordan, 18, has been perfecting his impressive technique for most of his life. At age 3 he began taking ballet, jazz and tap lessons in his hometown of Toronto, Canada. Then, at age 7, he added hip hop. Around the same time he began working professionally as an actor but kept training and competing in dance. At age 11, he was able to put his passion for performance and dance to work. He earned his first two dance-heavy jobs in the ABC television movie The Music Man and in the feature film Honey. Regardless of genre, Jordan says, “I’m more interested in the performance and showmanship versus just technique.”
At 16, Jordan nabbed his breakout role in Camp Rock. He actually got the job based on his acting and singing skills because the audition didn’t involve much dancing. But when choreographer Kishaya Dudley saw what Jordan could do, “I choreographed everything around him,” she says. “He makes every simple move, even a touch-step-side-to-side, look like a backflip.”
The reason everything looks so dynamic, in part, is Jordan’s combination of height, quickness and precision. At 5’11″ he’s taller than most dancers, and combined with body control, his stature allows him to create especially graceful lines and inject extra energy into the simplest of moves. But it’s when he gets fancy that Jordan really stands out. In the Camp Rock song “We Rock,” Jordan climbs a lighting fixture on the side of the stage, then leaps to the floor. He launches into an aerial cartwheel, rotating 360 degrees in the air, and lands smoothly. Without missing a beat, he rejoins the rest of the cast to perform a jazz routine.
Since Camp Rock debuted, Jordan has focused on developing himself as a choreographer as well as an all-around entertainer. He even choreographed the music video for his own R&B song, “Girlz Trippin,” with tight, subtle shoulder, arm and hand movements.
Plus, Jordan is getting the chance to create dance numbers for some of his acting projects. He’s currently starring as Dave Whynot in the television show “Connor Undercover” on Canada’s Family Channel. Each episode features a music video that Jordan choreographs and performs! He’s even hoping a bit of his choreography ends up in Camp Rock 2. Regardless, this standout is one to watch, behind the scenes or front and center on the small screen.
Tim O’Shei is the author of 60 books and a frequent contributor to DS.
Photo by Kareem Ajani