What It's Really Like to Dance with J.Lo in Vegas
Las Vegas has been home to some of the most fabulous shows of all time—including, these days, the dance-filled Jennifer Lopez showcase All I Have. What's it like to perform on The Strip with a world-class artist? We asked J.Lo dancer Natalie Romero for the inside scoop.
Booking with Jenny from the Block
Since J.Lo has real dance chops and works with big-name choreographers like Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo and Kyle Hanagami, spots in her dance crew are especially coveted. Romero's All I Have journey began in an unusual place. "Tabitha and Napoleon held a very exclusive, invite-only audition for Jennifer Lopez—at her house!" Romero remembers. "The room was filled with talented dancers. When Jennifer came in to watch us in small groups, I swallowed my nerves and danced my heart out for her." Romero was first booked as Lopez's stand-in for a one-time performance, and that role helped her secure a spot in All I Have.
Romero working that fringe onstage in "All I Have" (courtesy Romero)
Lopez's packed schedule leaves her with limited time to rehearse. That means she works hard and picks up choreography fast—and she expects the same of everyone around her. "When she walks into the room, there's an elevated energy that follows her," Romero says. "Working with her is like working with a whole team of masters. She sees, she hears, and she feels it all."
Onstage on The Strip
Every All I Have show is a bit of a whirlwind. Each performance begins with a prayer circle to focus the group. Once the dancers hit the stage, you'll hear them hooting and hollering to pump each other up. Wardrobe techs are stationed in the wings to help with the crazy quick changes, which involve everything from ballroom-style dresses to sexy unitards.
A backstage selfie (courtesy Romero)
All I Have opened three years ago. "We do our show about three times a week, and sometimes we have breaks for over a month between our runs," Romero says. To keep things lively night after night, the dancers might challenge themselves to perfect an especially tricky section in one performance, or choose a new character to play in another. "The show also gets repolished by the creative team each time it returns," Romero says. "That's really kept it interesting and fresh."
Viva-ing in Las Vegas
Typically, dancing with J.Lo would mean touring the world. But while touring is an incredible experience, Lopez's residency in Las Vegas definitely has its perks. "The residency provides stability," Romero says. "On tour, you're changing time zones and traveling on your down time. Being in one city allows you more time to rest and reset your body before every show. Plus, we're able to take other work between show runs." Romero is also a Vegas native, which means she gets to hang out with her family and friends when she's off. (Talk about work/life balance.)
How does Romero stay grounded during All I Have's intense runs? "I like to start my day with meditation and some yoga, followed by a veggie-filled smoothie," she says. "Before heading to the theater, I'll spend time working on the furniture company I run with my fiancé, Mattalie Design, and tend to my large garden." After lunch, she'll take it easy to make sure she has plenty of energy for the night ahead. "We have a rehearsal onstage at 5 pm to smooth out any issues from the previous show," she says. "Then we do hair and makeup and BOOM—it's show time!"
Want to follow in Romero's footsteps? If you dream of dancing with an artist of J.Lo's caliber, Romero suggests sharpening your dance skills—all of them—and taking really, really good care of your instrument. "We do every style in our show, including salsa, hip hop, and vogue, and we learned from multiple choreographers," Romero says. "And dancing in a show like this means thinking and training like a professional athlete, especially in terms of nutrition and physical therapy."