The L.A. dance scene is bursting with talent. Here are 16 movers and shakers you absolutely need to know.
Get to their classes, learn their styles and figure out what they like. These dancemakers are the ones who will be teaching you choreography at auditions and on set.
Jamaica Craft: Jamaica’s choreography—whether it’s for Ciara, Eve or Justin Bieber—is fresh, funky and hard-hitting. She’s got swagger and she knows how to bring it out in the artists she works with.
Jennifer Hamilton: After growing up on the convention circuit, Jennifer Hamilton worked her way up the industry ladder by assisting major dancemakers like Marguerite Derricks. She’s worked on more than 30 films, including the 2009 Fame remake, the Austin Powers franchise and Step Brothers.
Flii Stylz: Everyone knows Chris Brown has stellar dance moves—and he gets his choreography from Flii. The dancemaker also choreographed Ke$ha’s “We R Who We R” music video, and has worked with Jennifer Lopez, the Backstreet Boys and Jesse McCartney.
Jeri Slaughter: If you’re a diva-in-the-making, Jeri Slaughter is the guy to call for sassy, take-no-prisoners moves. He’s choreographed performances for Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Cher, Christina Aguilera and Leona Lewis.
Aakomon “AJ” Jones: In addition to choreographing Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet tour and Center Stage: Turn It Up, AJ is also Usher’s main dance man. He was the creative director for Usher’s “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love,” “OMG” and “Lil’ Freak” music videos.
Michael Rooney: Michael Rooney’s five-page resumé reads like a Who’s Who of Hollywood. It boasts such names as Fatboy Slim, Kylie Minogue and Paula Abdul, and it includes 16 choreography award nominations. Plus, Rooney has choreographed more than 80 commercials for companies such as Target, Old Navy, Cadillac, Cover Girl and Starbucks.
Headed for the big screen, small screen or music video land? Make sure these people know your name.
Hype Williams: Has directed videos for Missy Elliott, Kanye West and Jay-Z
Joseph Kahn: Works with Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys and U2
Sophie Muller: Want to be a Harajuku girl? Muller is Gwen Stefani’s video go-to.
These dancers are referred to as “bookies” because they’re working hard, auditioning like crazy and booking every job in sight. But don’t think of them as your competition—use them as inspiration. They’re doing something very right.
Nick DeMoura: He’s got Bieber fever! DeMoura is one of the few dancers getting his groove on behind Justin Bieber on tour and in the Never Say Never feature film.
Devin Jamieson: He’s best known for booking a coveted spot on Michael Jackson’s This Is It tour.
Ivan “Flipz” Velez: Name any recent dance movie and it’s likely Flipz is in it. Choreographers are dying to hire him for his versatility and impressive acrobatics.
Jeremy Hudson: This charming, Ken Doll–esque dancer has appeared in the Fame remake and on “Glee.” He’s also landed one of the hottest gigs in Hollywood: dancing backup for Lady Gaga.
Mallauri Esquibel: This fiery redhead was a featured dancer in the 2009 Fame film and in High School Musical 3: Senior Year. Now she’s taking her talents to Broadway, where she’s the dance captain for the Marguerite Derricks–choreographed musical Wonderland.
Shaun Evaristo: He’s using his talents to reach beyond the dance realm and create a short film called Unthinkable.
The big ones for dancers and choreographers are McDonald-Selznick Associates, Clear Talent Group and Bloc.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?