Jakob Karr is Bad to the Bone

Photo by Tim Thornton. Jakob Karr performing in Australia.

When Jakob Karr stepped on the stage in New Orleans to audition for “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 6, audiences got their first glimpse of his exceptional talent: lofty leaps, flawless technique, a quiet confidence and flexibility that puts Gumby to shame. Jakob, who started dancing at the age of 12 at Shooting Stars School of Performing Arts in Clermont, FL, was an audience favorite throughout the season and nearly nabbed the title of America’s Favorite Dancer, finishing as first runner-up. But “SYTYCD” was just the beginning of his professional career. A few weeks before his 20th birthday, Jakob joined the Bad Boys of Dance, a company founded by Rasta Thomas that performs technique-based choreography to chart-topping rock and contemporary music. This summer, the Bad Boys set out on a six-month international tour, which started out in Australia. Jakob kept a diary of the first leg of the journey for DS —Katie Rolnick

Sunday, May 2
I just arrived in Maryland to begin rehearsals for the Bad Boys of Dance tour and we got started the second I walked into the studio. Robbie Nicholson, our talented dance captain, is leading rehearsals. Today I was turning and jumping all over the place with the other new boys: Franco Nieto, Brandt Martinez, James Boyd and Chase Madigan. I’m nervous about being one of the youngest members of the company, but day one was pretty incredible.

Tuesday, May 11
I quickly learned that age is only a number and we’re all here to put on a show together. Being around experienced performers has made me work harder and pay more attention to my body and how it moves.

We’re doing ROCK the Ballet, which is in its second season—and this show is hard. The choreography requires a lot of technique and stamina. Fortunately, I built up my endurance on “SYTYCD.”

As of today we have officially learned all of the show’s group choreography; all we have left to learn are some short duos and trios. Most of the movement is very sharp and compact, which is different from what I’ve been doing recently. I’m used to dancing contemporary and lyrical, styles that are more elongated and fluid. But change is always good—that’s how we grow.

I’m having a blast hanging out with the other new guys and the Bad Boys veterans (including Kameron Bink from “SYTYCD” Season 3). The vets already know the choreography and just recently joined us, so now the entire 17-member cast is present for final touch-ups before we blast off for Australia. I’m very excited because I’ve never been out of the country before.

Photo courtesy Jakob Karr. Jakob Karr in Gold Coast.

Friday, May 28
Touch down! After three full days of traveling, we’ve finally landed in Melbourne. We have a few days to adjust to the 14-hour time difference and I plan on being a fantastic tourist. First stop: the Melbourne Aquarium!

Tuesday, June 1
Tonight was opening night. We performed at The Arts Centre, which has more than 2,000 seats (and our week-long run is already almost sold out!). The audience was amazing. I have such a wonderful feeling inside during this show because it’s so positive and uplifting. There isn’t a dull moment. My favorite number is a duet that I dance with Chase Madigan called “Let’s Go Crazy” (to the Prince song). It’s like a quick cardio workout with nonstop flips, jumps and turns—and it’s so much fun!

Thursday, June 10
A few days ago we landed in Gold Coast, our second stop in Australia. It’s gorgeous: giant palm trees, white sand beaches and buildings that seem to touch the sky.

Tonight’s show was great! I feel like we’re all starting to blend into a company now. And as the choreography becomes more familiar, I’m finding that I’m more relaxed when I perform.

Monday, June 14
Getting to travel internationally and go sightseeing makes the Bad Boys tour even more fulfilling. Today we’re in Sydney and a group of us just went to the Taronga Zoo. There was a section dedicated to native Australian animals and we got to walk through an interactive kangaroo exhibit. Aside from the amazing animals, the zoo has a beautiful view of Sydney Harbor. You can see the stunning Opera House in all its glory.

Monday, June 21
Today is my 20th birthday! We’ve arrived in Brisbane (our fifth stop) and have the night off, so the whole company is going out with me to celebrate.

The venue here is beautiful. We’ll be dancing at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre Concert Hall. The ceilings are so high I can’t even see them and the audience seating area is massive. It’s a little intimidating, but the theater’s grandeur adds excitement to our performances.

Sunday, June 27
We arrived in Darwin a couple days ago. From here, we’ll head to Perth, our last stop in Australia. Then we fly to Europe, where we’ll travel through Germany and make stops in Madrid and Paris. The tour will continue until the end of December. We’ll take a break for the holidays and regroup after New Year’s for more performances throughout Europe.

This has already become the best experience of my life and I can only imagine it will get better as the tour progresses. The Bad Boys show is a message to the world that dance doesn’t always have to be serious or intimidating. It shows that dance can simply be fun!

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