Jakob Karr is Bad to the Bone
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.
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!
Well, this brings class videos to a whole new level! Choreographer Phil Wright and dancer Ashley Liai have been together eight-plus years, but she was still in total shock when he proposed to her mid-dance at Millennium Dance Complex earlier this week. Why? Well, the whole thing was unbelievably perfect.
In the dance industry, dancers don't always have a say in what they wear on their bodies. This can get tricky if you're asked to wear something that compromises your own personal values. So what should you do if you find yourself in this sticky situation? We sat down for a Q&A with "Dancing with the Stars" alumn Ashly Costa to answer that very question. Here's what she had to say about the options dancers have surrounding questionable costumes.
The groundwork for Erin Carpenter's company, Nude Barre, began when she was a teenager. At 16, she earned a spot in the residency program at The Kennedy Center in partnership with Dance Theatre of Harlem. "We were required to wear nude—as in, our actual skin tone—tights and shoes," she remembers. Carpenter brought her "sun tan" tights and a pair of pink ballet shoes with her, because that was all she could find. But she wasn't allowed in class because her dancewear didn't match her skin. "I was so embarrassed," she says. "I looked unprepared. I just didn't have the right nudes." Her teacher explained that the dancers dyed their tights and pancaked their shoes.
There are dancers and then there are DANCERS! Whitney Jensen, soloist at Norwegian National Ballet, is the latter. The former Boston Ballet principal can do it all. From contemporary to the classics this prima has the technical talent most bunheads dream about. Need proof? Look no further.
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's dance inducing hit, "Despacito," is so catchy it should probably come with a disclaimer that warns people of an uncontrollable itch to tap your feet or bob your head. Some might even feel inclined to go all out and break it down. Niana Guerrero is a prime example of "Despacito's" uncanny ability to unleash the red dressed emoji dancer within. 💃🏽 💃🏽