Los Angeles is known in the dance world for its commercially driven and highly competitive dance market. The city is saturated with beautiful, talented, versatile dancers all vying for the same gigs. So what does it take to make it in Hollywood? The details of Sandra Colton’s daily grind show that it’s more about persistence, determination and hard work than about the glamour of being a star.
Sandra Colton, who is in her 20s, is living the Hollywood dream. She has a packed resumé that boasts stints as a Lakers Girl and a backup dancer for Mary J. Blige. She even won a spot on the first season of “So You Think You Can Dance,” which recently landed her photo on billboards and coffee holders everywhere.
But the success has not gone to her head. These days, when she’s not on tour dancing with Rihanna, judging the Clippers Spirit Dance Team finals or shooting her first music video for her single “I Can’t Dance,” you can still find her running around L.A. searching for the perfect audition outfits, keeping herself in tip-top shape and broadening her dance horizons.
“My job,” Sandra says, “is going to class and getting ready for more and more auditions.”
Mornings are slightly laid back. “I stay up late—I’m from Las Vegas,” says Sandra, who moved to L.A. from Sin City for her appearance on “SYTYCD.” (She’d moved to L.A. for the first time in 2002, after landing her job as a Lakers Girl.) “I wake up around 11 a.m. Then I call my agent at MSA [McDonald/Selznick Associates]. The more I call them, the more they remember to call me.”
During the day, Sandra does anything and everything for the many auditions that pack her schedule, from driving to Utah for a recent High School Musical call to scouring the racks at Ross for the perfect outfit to cut and dye into exactly what she wants.
“Audition notices always just say, ‘Hot, sexy and ready to dance!’” she says. “A lot of times, they don’t know the look they want until it walks in the door.”
Sandra pays particular attention to her high-heeled shoes, hitting up Melrose Avenue boutiques for new ones. “You need cute heels that are dance-able,” says Sandra, who got her favorite pair while dancing on Katharine McPhee’s tour.
Then, “I try to take three to four dance classes a week, like Doug Caldwell’s strenuous class at the EDGE,” Sandra says. Growing up, she took voice, tap, jazz, hip-hop and gymnastics classes. She and her older sister, Christine, were even the Star Search Teen Dance Champions in 1992. They called themselves Colton & Colton. Now, Sandra wants to start break-dancing classes in an effort to be as versatile a dancer as possible. She’s also studying acting.
“I just started taking acting classes,” says Sandra. Her teachers are Craig Colvin, Carolyne Barry and Tasha Smith, who work at various studios and theaters throughout L.A. “When you get called to audition for a dance role in a movie or commercial, there’s often dialogue. You want to be more than just a background dancer.”
So where can you see this triple threat next? She’s currently recording an album that’s scheduled to come out early next year, and she’s up for at least one big-time TV gig. Thanks to her wide range of performing skills, the sky’s the limit!
Abby Tegnelia is West Coast News Director at In Touch Weekly magazine.
Photo: Joe Toreno