Cover Story

How Charlize Glass Morphed From Baby to Beast On the Dance Floor

Photo by Joe Toreno

Some might say Charlize Glass' fame kicked off with a single three-letter word. In 2014, Beyoncé shared a video of the then–12-year-old dancer performing to "Yoncé" on Instagram, along with a simple caption: "WOW!"

But by that point, the hip-hop mini had already performed at the MTV Video Music Awards and on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," and won first runner-up with her crew, 8 Flavahz, on "America's Best Dance Crew." And her Queen Bey Insta shout-out wasn't even the pinnacle of her tween career: She earned a spot on The PULSE On Tour as an Elite Protégé for the 2014–2015 season, and performed with Missy Elliott at the Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show in 2015.

These days, the 16-year-old spends her time touring the country as Brian Friedman's assistant at Radix Dance Convention and blowing up YouTube and Instagram with her class-video cameos. And while the Char Char we fell in love with was a hip-hop cutie pie, the more mature artist we see today is sure to rock the dance world for years to come.


Becoming a Beast

Perhaps the biggest challenge that comes with early success is finding a way to keep growing. For Charlize, that's meant getting to know as many different artists and styles as possible. While she follows a handful of choreographers faithfully—Brian Friedman, Kyle Hanagami, and Tessandra Chavez, to name a few—the L.A. native takes class all over La La Land, and always keeps her eye out for up-and-coming choreographers on social media. "Anytime I see a new name come up on the schedule at Movement Lifestyle, The Playground, or Millennium Dance Complex, I'm like, 'I have to go!' " she says. The choreographers who have been working with her from the start see the difference. "She has grown so much over the past six years that I've known her," Hanagami says. "The amount of texture she has in her movement is far beyond her years."

Photo by Toreno

"When Charlize was younger, she would be so nervous around me that she'd sometimes mess herself up," says Friedman. (He hired Charlize the first time he saw her, when she was just 8 years old.) "She had a breakthrough a couple of years ago, at the end of her season with The PULSE On Tour. At one of the last cities, I had to put her in with the older kids, because I didn't have enough dancers. She out-danced everyone on that stage, and I knew that she had overcome her phobia. From that point forward, she was untouchable."

The Radix Effect

Charlize owes much of her recent growth to her job assisting Friedman on tour with Radix Dance Convention. The gig includes everything from dancing alongside Friedman in classes to putting on a headset during performances to manage things backstage. "Radix has helped me mature as a dancer and a person," she says. "The first time I put on that headset, I was so nervous, but now I'm not."

Photo by Toreno

Increased exposure to ballet and contemporary classes at Radix has also helped Charlize polish her technique and become a more well-rounded dancer. She's found that contemporary classes have actually taken her hip hop to another level. "I hear different aspects of the music, and it's made me smoother in between the hits," she says. "It's helped me develop my own signature groove, flowing from one beat to the next."

Young Fame

Getting discovered as a preteen certainly has its perks—like being on texting terms with many of the industry's top artists. "I'm lucky, because now I tend to get texts about job opportunities from choreographers," Charlize says. "Every audition is basically a direct book."

Photo by Toreno

Early fame does have its drawbacks, of course. Since Charlize can hold her own among much older dancers, choreographers sometimes forget that she's a high-schooler, with high school responsibilities. "Adults don't have homework!" she says, laughing. But Charlize admits that recognition from industry insiders helps her feel confident about the future. "I know I have a definite path for my career," she says. And she's careful not to let her success go to her head—because that's not her. "A lot of dancers will do well in this industry," she says, "but when they let it change their personality, people don't want to work with them anymore."



A version of this story appeared in the January 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "A Char Char-med Life."

Show Comments ()
How To
Thinkstock

Picture this: You're in rehearsal, and you finally get a move the way the choreographer wants it—except that it makes your back twinge each time. Should you say you're in pain, or should you suck it up and keep going? You don't want to injure yourself, but you also don't want to jeopardize your role.

The dance world often teaches students to be quiet and obedient around authority figures. That said, there are definitely instances when you need to speak your mind. Try these tips to navigate sticky situations.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

Rigorous program, check. Well-rounded technical training, check. Purposeful liberal arts curriculum, check. Study your craft abroad, check! If you are looking for all the above, the Joan Phelps Palladino School of Dance at Dean College truly has it all.

Keep reading... Show less
Victoria Caban brought the heat with her flamenco routine. (via YouTube)

I never thought we'd make it here, you guys, but after 11 grueling weeks of competition and five rounds of Duels, "World of Dance" will enter The Cuts phase of the show next week. The talent is unreal this season, which makes the goodbyes that much harder. Last night, during the last round of The Duels, we witnessed a mass exodus, as only six acts advanced to the final round. My heart still hurts a little, and I've got no more tears left to cry, but I'll pull it together to recap the evening for you.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

Showstopper is the nation's leading dance competition. It provides the perfect platform for dancers, teachers, and choreographers to showcase their talents and hard work. Showstopper's environment is inviting, motivating, and above all, inspiring. If you haven't experienced it, now is the time!

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
He's been appearing on/choreographing for the show since 2006. (Adam Rose/FOX)

"Mister Travis Wall," as Cat Deeley would say, has had one heck of an epic "So You Think You Can Dance" journey. Since first appearing on the show as a contestant during Season 2 (back when he had frosted tips!), he's become one of the series' most respected choreographers and mentors. In fact, his work for "SYTYCD" has earned him Emmy nominations every year since 2011. EVERY. YEAR.

To celebrate his latest Emmy noms—for "SYT" Season 14's "Change is Everything" and "Strange Fruit"—The Wrap magazine talked to T.Wall about what the show has meant to his life. And as always, Travis was full of dancy wisdom.

Keep reading... Show less
Cover Story
Class at the University of Southern California Glorya Kaufman School of Dance (photo by Ema Peter, courtesy USC)

If you closed your eyes and pictured dance paradise, what would it look like? Maybe you'd start your morning in rehearsal with a renowned contemporary choreographer, and then work on a dance driven by computer programming, and then run to a music video audition, and end the day discussing the impact of African dance styles on American pop culture.

Guess what? That dance paradise isn't just a dream. It's the University of Southern California Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, a young program that's already attracting some of the most talented dancers around—for good reason.

Click here to meet Alyssa Allen, Simrin Player, and Jake Tribus, three of USC's standout students.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Jo Rowan (front) teaching ballet class at Oklahoma City University (photo by Shane Bevel, courtesy OCU)

Let's say this right up front: Everyone agrees that a talented dancer can move to NYC or L.A., start auditioning, and get booked without a dance degree. And graduating from a program doesn't guarantee that you'll have a successful dance career. So, what weight does a degree carry in the industry? "The reality today is that if you don't get a degree, you will be at a disadvantage," says Dr. Sally R. Sommer, director of the Florida State University dance department's semester-long immersion program in NYC. Proactive and engaged college students become more adaptable, thoughtful, and resilient dancers. Combine these qualities with a deeper understanding of dance history, practical experience with the professional expectations of choreographers, and access to a growing community of peers, guest artists, faculty, and alumni, and it's easy to see why a degree could mean more doors are open to you.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for Fun

In case you missed it, our favorite actress/dance fangirl Jennifer Garner hit the studio this weekend to brush up on her technique (stars, they really are just like us). And the end result might be even better than Garner's #TutuTuesday posts. At the request of American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, Garner took to her Instagram story to participate in Lil Buck's #GoinInCirclesChallenge.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Jo Rowan (front) teaching ballet class at Oklahoma City University (photo by Shane Bevel, courtesy OCU)

Let's say this right up front: Everyone agrees that a talented dancer can move to NYC or L.A., start auditioning, and get booked without a dance degree. And graduating from a program doesn't guarantee that you'll have a successful dance career. So, what weight does a degree carry in the industry? "The reality today is that if you don't get a degree, you will be at a disadvantage," says Dr. Sally R. Sommer, director of the Florida State University dance department's semester-long immersion program in NYC. Proactive and engaged college students become more adaptable, thoughtful, and resilient dancers. Combine these qualities with a deeper understanding of dance history, practical experience with the professional expectations of choreographers, and access to a growing community of peers, guest artists, faculty, and alumni, and it's easy to see why a degree could mean more doors are open to you.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
The Top 10, sporting some EYEBROWS, in the opening number (Michael Becker/FOX)

And then there were eight. Just as we were starting to get attached to the Top 10, those pesky "So You Think You Can Dance" rules came into play and forced us (er, the judges) to slash two of the finalists from the competition. How rude! (But, Nigel announced ever-so-proudly, the entire Top 10 will be going on tour together once the season wraps.) Before the eliminations, each couple performed twice—and never in any dancer's own style. "So anything could happen," explained Cat Deeley, clad in a splashy, sequined floral minidress and a massive hair bow. And oh boy, a LOT of things did.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

Rigorous program, check. Well-rounded technical training, check. Purposeful liberal arts curriculum, check. Study your craft abroad, check! If you are looking for all the above, the Joan Phelps Palladino School of Dance at Dean College truly has it all.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
Soooo gorgeous. (via Instagram)

Edgar Degas' famous sculpture Little Dancer Aged Fourteen has been getting a lot of love recently—and by "love," we mean everything from a tutu upgrade to a full-on musical telling her story. But artist Doyle V. Trankina's reimagining of the sculpture, with none other than Misty Copeland taking the place of the young Paris Opéra Ballet School student who inspired the original? It might be our favorite Little Dancer tribute yet.

Keep reading... Show less
Giveaways

Tired of uncomfortable tights that dig into your waist and create unflattering bulges? Body Wrappers' knitted wide-waisted tights will keep you comfortable and give you the confidence you need to perform your very best during dance class. Enter below for your chance to win a pair!

Keep reading... Show less
How To
Thinkstock

Because they're the one part of college applications you don't do yourself, teacher recommendations can feel like big, scary question marks. As Sarah Langford, college counselor at The Chicago Academy for the Arts, says, "When admissions chooses between equally talented candidates, a memorable letter can put you in the 'yes' pile." But take heart: You have more control over what ends up in these letters than you might realize. Here, Langford and Sarah Lovely, director of college counseling at Walnut Hill School for the Arts, spill the secrets to ensuring you'll get letters that'll help launch you into the dance department of your dreams.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
The P-rouette shoe is made from 3D-printed fabrics—and our minds are seriously blown. (via Dezeen)

Pointe shoes printed on a 3D printer may sound like something only possible in the future. But imagine our surprise when we found out these high-tech shoes actually exist! Yes, you read that correctly...you can PRINT pointe shoes—and the end result offers less pain and way more durability than traditional methods.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for Fun
Giphy

Although we watch "So You Think You Can Dance" for the killer choreography and fantabulous dancing, sometimes the show is downright hilarious, too. Here are seven laugh-out-loud "SYT" moments that still have us giggling.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
The Top 10, sporting some EYEBROWS, in the opening number (Michael Becker/FOX)

And then there were eight. Just as we were starting to get attached to the Top 10, those pesky "So You Think You Can Dance" rules came into play and forced us (er, the judges) to slash two of the finalists from the competition. How rude! (But, Nigel announced ever-so-proudly, the entire Top 10 will be going on tour together once the season wraps.) Before the eliminations, each couple performed twice—and never in any dancer's own style. "So anything could happen," explained Cat Deeley, clad in a splashy, sequined floral minidress and a massive hair bow. And oh boy, a LOT of things did.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Giveaways