Jake Tribus has been a household name in the dance world since he first showed up on the competition and convention scene, where he was a judge favorite. He trained at CC & Co. Dance Complex in Raleigh, NC, and was named New York City Dance Alliance's Teen Male Outstanding Dancer and 24 Seven's National Teen Male Non-Stop Dancer before going on to become an apprentice with the Next Generation Ballet program at the Patel Conservatory. He's the co-founder of the all-inclusive, über-empowering Artists Giving Hope organization, and was the star of our reality series "The Road to Nationals" a few years back.
These days, Tribus is a student at University of Southern California Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. And when he's not in the USC studios, he's hitting up Millennium Dance Complex for a different kind of class: He's become a featured standout in Yanis Marshall's class videos. We caught up with Tribus to get the scoop on his morning routine, what he can't live with out, and the moment that made all his dance dreams come true.
1. What's the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning, and what's the last thing you do before bed every night?
The first thing I do in the morning is stumble around my room a little until I put my contacts in. Then I decide what I'm going to wear for the day. The last thing I do before going to bed at night is listen to my favorite music to help me go to sleep.
2. What are three things you eat every day?
I always start my morning with yogurt and granola. It's light on my stomach but provides me with enough energy to get through my morning classes. With lunch, I like to have grilled chicken for protein, with vegetables on the side. My dinner varies with each day, but I never fail to have some chocolate to satisfy my sweet tooth!
3. What are three things you can't dance without?
Good music, comfortable dance clothes, and a positive attitude. One of my favorite things about dance is discovering new music, whether on my own or through recommendations from friends. I'm constantly finding new music and getting inspired to dance all the time. I also love comfortable, trendy, and functional dancewear. When I'm in between classes, I enjoy having something on that keeps my body warm, and I love wearing something light and breathable underneath. And my dad is constantly reminding me to stay "positive and purposeful," and I try to bring that into the dance studio. I believe that going into class with a positive attitude allows you to absorb the most information from the experience, and give 100 percent of your effort. Knowing how to support and learn from others is important for both challenging yourself and staying true to what dance is meant to be: a way for us all to express ourselves and develop together.
4. In your very expert opinion, what's the best dance movie of all time?
Oh that's easy: Dirty Dancing! I love that movie! I'm also a little biased because I was lucky enough to be a part of the remake with Abigail Breslin and Nicole Scherzinger.
5. If you were given one hour to take class from any instructor, who would you choose?
No question: Martha Nichols. Martha is an alum of my hometown studio, so I grew up taking her class, performing her choreography and occasionally assisting her on conventions. You never quite know what you're going to get when you take her class. She could whip out a technical contemporary combo that moves at the speed of light, or a groovy hip-hop combo that gets the whole roomed hyped up.
6. What's the coolest place you've ever performed?
New York City Center. I love the aesthetic and beauty of NYC in general, and this theater is stunning. I was performing at Capezio's 125th anniversary celebration, so it was an amazing night full of all kinds of dance styles and unforgettable performances.
7. What songs are in heavy rotation on your playlist right now?
If I gave you a list of all the songs I jam out to, it would take up two pages! Some current favorites are "Mama Say" by Betty Who, "Another Sad Love Song" by Khalid, "Girlfriend" by NAO, "Crowded Places" by Banks, and "Radio" by Sylvan Esso.
8. Other than dance, what's your favorite way to break a sweat?
When I'm not dancing but want to get some physical activity in, I'll hit up the pool on campus. I love swimming and being out in the sun—it's the perfect way to soak up some rays while getting nice workout in.
9. What's your favorite way to spend a Sunday?
When I find myself faced with a free Sunday, I take full advantage of it. I enjoy finding cute places in L.A. to grab brunch with my friends. Then we'll head over to the beach to relax. Sometimes my classmates and I will find an empty studio at the dance building on campus and have an improv jam where we just turn on music and dance together. At the end of the day, once I get all my homework and laundry done, I'll pop on a face mask and turn on a great movie to relax and reset for the next week.
10. What has been the single greatest moment in your dance career so far?
Performing in Travis Wall's show, Hollow Suit, which he created last summer for DancerPalooza. He put so much of himself into the show, recreating a personal story. I was beyond honored when he asked me to portray his 18-year-old self for the show. And I was thrilled to perform alongside some of my best friends, and even mentors I'd been taking class from for years.