The Dirt with Kelli Berglund
by Keith Munyan
You may know Kelli Berglund as lightning-fast bionic teenager Bree on Disney XD’s “Lab Rats.” But did you know she’s also a star on the competition scene? Kelli started dancing at age 4 and has trained in jazz, ballet, hip hop, acrobatics, tap and contemporary (her favorite) at the Camarillo Academy of Performing Arts in Camarillo, CA, and The Dance Company in Moorpark, CA. Her performance skills scored her early roles on TLC’s “Hip Hop Harry” and in various commercials. A fierce competitor, Kelli has won many awards, including first overall solo at MOVE Regionals when she was 14.
Now 16, she’s on the “Lab Rats” set all day, every day, but whenever she has time off from filming, she’ll take classes at Millennium Dance Complex or EDGE Performing Arts Center in L.A. And her dance training comes in handy on set as well. “My character on ‘Lab Rats’ is very athletic. She gets into fights—which include high kicks and jumps—and even has a few dance scenes,” Kelli says. “Plus, having to remember tons of choreography over the years has helped me when it comes to remembering lines.”
Kelli’s already working on her next big thing—a show in the works (which will feature both her dance and singing talent) called “My Dance Turn.” Want to learn more about this triple threat? Read on for The Dirt.
If you could dance with any performer, past or present, who would it be?
Biggest guilty pleasure:
Candle-lit bubble baths
Swiss cheese fondue
One thing most people don’t know about you:
I have a huge phobia of bugs.
If you weren’t a dancer/actress, what would you be?
A graphic designer or director
Favorite city in the world:
What are your pet peeves?
People who never want to work hard and chipped nail polish
What’s the strangest thing in your dance bag?
My audition number from a convention two years ago
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
On the big screen!
Much of Janelle Ginestra's career has been about helping others shine. She's dedicated herself to supporting and cheerleading her partner, WilldaBeast Adams; the emerging talents in their dance company, ImmaBEAST; and the countless dancers she inspires at master classes and conventions. Her YouTube channel has become a launching pad for young talents like "Fraternal Twins" Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala, thanks to viral videos featuring Ginestra's creative vision.
But Ginestra's a skyrocketing success in her own right—an in-demand choreographer, a social media influencer, and a dance entrepreneur, building a legacy one eight-count at a time. It's time for her turn in the spotlight. And she's more than ready. "I want to be a legend in whatever I do," she says. We'd argue that she already is.
When a choreographer finds a composer whose music truly inspires her, it can feel like a match made in dance heaven. Some choreographers work with the same composers so frequently that they become known for their partnerships. New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck, for example, has tapped composer Sufjan Stevens numerous times (last spring, the two premiered The Decalogue at NYCB, to rave reviews); L.A. Dance Project's Benjamin Millepied's working relationship with composer Nico Muhly has spanned a decade and two continents; and when tap dancer Michelle Dorrance premiered the first-ever Works & Process Rotunda Project, a site-specific work for New York City's Guggenheim Museum, last year, percussionist Nicholas Van Young was by her side as an equal partner. Successful collaborations require compatibility between artists, direct and honest communication, and flexible, open minds. But when the stars align, working with a composer can be extremely rewarding.
For ballerinas, it's the dream role to end all dream roles: Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, the type of part dancers spend years preparing for and whole careers perfecting. And it's a role that New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck never thought she'd dance. Though Peck is one of the world's preeminent ballerinas, her short stature made Odette/Odile, typically performed by longer, leggier dancers, seem (almost literally) out of reach.
Then—surprise!—her name popped up on the cast list for NYCB's fall season run of Swan Lake.
Lani Dickinson's power, grace, and raw presence make her a standout with AXIS Dance Company, whose mission is to change the face of dance and disability by featuring a mix of disabled and non-disabled performers. Born in China, Dickinson was adopted by an American couple and started dancing at 8 in Towson, MD. She attended the Boston Ballet School for two summers, studied at the Idyllwild Arts Academy for the last two years of high school, and graduated with a dance degree from Alonzo King LINES Ballet's BFA program with Dominican University of California. In 2015, she joined AXIS and won a Princess Grace Award. Catch her this month during AXIS Dance Company's 30th-anniversary season—and read on for The Dirt!
Week five of "Dancing with the Stars" proved to be one of the best weeks of the season so far. (And we're not just saying that because Mickey made a cameo debut on the piano during one of the routines—although that certainly didn't hurt!) Everyone brought their A-game, and with such a fun theme the contestants were able to really let their guards down. There was true sincerity in their dancing that we hadn't seen before. But not all Disney stories end with a "happily ever after," and one couple still had to hang up their dancing shoes.
If there's one week you should watch all the routines of it's undoubtedly this one... But, ICYMI, scroll below for our highlights of the night.