Inside the Lives of J. Lo's Dancers

There's nothing quite like the life of a backup dancer—and nobody knows that better than Jennifer Lopez. You've heard about her kicking off her career as a Fly Girl on "In Living Color," but did you know she also danced backup for New Kids on the Block in 1991? Furthermore, did you know that there is video evidence of said backup dancing? (If that clip doesn't make your day, you are a very sad person.)

Next Thursday, October 3, NUVOtv will premiere "A Step Away," which follows the crew of dancers performing with J. Lo on her first world tour. The supervising choreographer and co-creative director of the series is one Casper Smart, aka Mr. Lopez (C. Lo?), who, of course, has backup dancer roots himself. So the show should give a pretty accurate look at what actually goes on behind the scenes.

Take a look at this preview video, which is, promisingly, very dance-y indeed—and be sure to tune in to NUVOtv next Thursday at 10/9 central!

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Project 21 dancers (from left) Selena Hamilton, Gracyn French, and Dyllan Blackburn (Photo by Quinn Wharton; hair and makeup throughout by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.)

How Project 21 Is Shaping the Next Generation of Competition-Dance Standouts

"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

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