Strike a Pose: Meet Model and Dancer, Lisa Byrnes

Ever sat by the phone waiting for word on that big audition? Well, what if you couldn’t get the phone to stop ringing? Welcome to Lisa Byrnes’ world. With a marketable modeling look and dance skills to match, Lisa often finds herself in high demand for gigs on both ends of the spectrum. Case in point—last year’s Grammy Awards. “I got a call to dance for Katy Perry, but I was already modeling as one of the ‘trophy girls,’” recalls Lisa, who got the chance to share the stage with Whitney Houston and Kanye West while handing out awards to winners. “Sometimes opportunities can collide, but it’s great to be in that position.”

It’s a familiar situation for Lisa, whose worlds collide more often than not. Some jobs require both dancing and modeling, like the Fall 2008 Pussycat Dolls Fashion Week show—where she worked it in dance numbers and on the catwalk. Other times, it’s about making a swift transition from one job to another, as in 2004, a mega-busy year in which Lisa finished Paul McCartney’s world tour and then started a denim campaign with designer Adriano Goldschmied. On the heels of those gigs, Lisa had a recurring dance job on NBC’s “The Singing Bee,” plus a featured role on VH1’s “America’s Most Smartest Model.” Says Lisa of her dual life, “I’m like a juggling clown. I never get bored!”

Of course, the juggling act can get complicated. Recently, a Citizens of Humanity billboard shoot landed on the same day as a TV shoot for Fox’s “Glee.” The same situation arose when Lisa was tapped to dance alongside Catherine Zeta-Jones at the AFI Lifetime Achievement Awards but already had a modeling shoot scheduled. She ended up getting to do both. “It’s about balance and weighing which job will help move your career forward,” says Lisa.

Tiny Dancer

Lisa’s been dancing and modeling since she was old enough to utter the words, “Sashay, shantay!” At 3, she started taking dance classes, and at 5, she signed with Elite Model Management. Soon Lisa was modeling for brands like Esprit, JCPenney and Macy’s. But it was important to Lisa to keep up her dance training, so she continued to take ballet, jazz and tap classes several times a week. At 18, her love of dance inspired her to make a major leap—a move to L.A., where she snagged a scholarship at EDGE Performing Arts Center.

Making it Happen

Today Lisa continues to work as both a dancer and a model in L.A., where she is represented by McDonald Selznick Associates and often goes on as many as 10 auditions and go-sees (a tryout for models) in a week. As for earning a living? Print work for catalogs can pay around $150 to $250 per hour, while magazine editorial work offers higher prestige but lower pay, averaging just $150 per day. Pay for runway work can be as much as $500 per hour!

Landing an Agent

For Lisa, finding an agency that reps both models and dancers was the perfect path after arriving in L.A. “It’s good to be with an agency that has print, on-camera and dance departments, as you’ll be sent on an array of jobs,” she advises. So how do you get the coveted agency signing? According to Lisa, open calls are few and far between, but agencies have submission sites online where aspiring models can send photos and info.

“There are a lot of models out there,” Lisa says. “Make sure your agency has a place for you so you don’t end up in an unattended file. Edgy, All-American, California Girl—if your agency has 60 girls just like you, keep searching. There’s a place for everyone.” Simply ask what types of people the agency is currently representing. Adds Lisa: “That’s not a common question for people who don’t know the business, so agents will respect someone who asks that.”

Blessings & Curses

“I was always a beanpole, towering over all the boys in class pictures,” says 5' 9" Lisa. And while her height is certainly good for modeling, it sometimes presents a challenge on the dance front: “Most dancers are between 5' 3" and 5' 7", and I often find myself too tall to dance with a partner or tour with shorter artists.”

In some ways, Lisa’s dance experience is both a help and a hindrance: “Dance definitely provided my body with a certain type of movement language and confidence, but it has also developed a more athletic look as opposed to a waif look, which at times can typecast me.” Yet her body type has also been instrumental in landing certain jobs. For the Rush Hour 3 audition, director Brett Ratner requested 10 athletic-looking dancers—and Lisa made the cut.

To maintain the long, lean look required of models, Lisa is strategic about her workouts. She keeps her body from becoming too athletic by using dance as her main means of exercise. “I can’t lift weights or do kickboxing. Even cardio barre is hard because I tend to bulk up really fast,” Lisa says.

But for the most part, dancing has furthered Lisa’s modeling career by adding style to her runway walk and improving her ability to take direction. “As a model, you don’t just walk or pose for the camera. You exude style, emotion and versatility,” Lisa says. “Dance has taught me to be aware of my body and connect to the audience. I’m able to express myself to my full potential.”

Ready For Your Close-Up?

Wondering if you have what it takes to rock the runway? Clear Talent Agents Brooklyn Lavin and Wendy Bogdan have all the A's to your Q's.

Q: On “America’s Next Top Model,” Tyra Banks criticizes girls who look too much like dancers. Is this accurate in the industry?

A: According to Wendy, Clear Talent’s print/model booker, this can often be true in the world of high fashion, but a dance background can benefit a model who does commercial print work. Lisa adds that certain jobs do require you to put on your model face and put away your dancin’ shoes. “Sometimes you have to turn it off and just model,” Lisa says. “Some models give dancer poses and balletic movement, instead of making it more natural or couture-style.”

Q: Do I need super-expensive headshots to get started?

A: Not necessarily, Wendy says: “A snapshot will work when you’re starting out. Once you find an agent, you’ll have to get new shots that are marketable.”

Q: How tall do I need to be?

A: “It’s a myth that you have to be six feet tall to be a model,” says Brooklyn, an agent with Clear Talent’s Dance Division. “For runway modeling, being at least 5'9" is a must, but for print work, you can book a job based off your look, ethnicity or body frame.” Wendy adds, “Some of my top booking models are under 5'6"! Clients look for beautiful faces, toned bodies and great personalities.”

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What’s in Your Dance Bag—Based on Your Zodiac Sign

Sometimes our dance bags feel like portals to another dimension—we have no idea what half the stuff buried in our bags even is. (Note to self: Clean out dance bag.)

But have you ever wondered if there's a method to the madness? We're pretty sure there is, and as always, we're pretty sure it's something to do with astrology. That's right, your resident Dance Spirit astrologers are back with our best guess at what you keep in your dance bag—based on your zodiac sign.


You're always going 100 mph Aries (or maybe even more), so it's pretty much a guarantee that your dance bag is fully stocked with snacks to power you through the day. Granola bars, trail mix, yogurt, fruit. It's like a Whole Foods in there.

You've also usually got about six different pairs of shoes in your bag. As an Aries, you love adventure, trying new things and, most of all, a challenge. So when it comes to classes, you're all over the map. Tap, jazz, ballet, character, modern—you'll try them all.

Something else you won't go without? Your signature red lipstick, obv. How else are you going to show off your fiery personality? (And look amazing while doing it, TYSM.)


As a child of Venus, you always want to look your best, Taurus. So your dance bag is a hair salon/makeup station, all in one. If your dance besties need to borrow a hair tie, or are looking for a fun accessory to spice up their bun, they know you're the one to go to.

Also important to you? Smelling your best. Taureans love comforting, luxurious scents, so your dance bag is typically equipped with a favorite perfume or deodorant. (Or both.)

But what's most important is the bag itself—admit it, you've been using the same dance bag for years. We get it, Taurus, nobody likes change, and least of all the stubborn bull of the zodiac. But if your dance bag is really starting to smell like feet (or if your bobby pins are starting to slip through the holes in the bottom), you might want to consider investing in a new bag.


Gemini, you love to switch it up. So you're pretty much guaranteed to have at least three different dance fits in your bag at any given time. And your dancewear is always on point. You love to keep up with trends and try edgy, new looks.

Ever the intellect, you usually have a book in your bag, as well. You're always making book recs to your fellow dancers, and you refuse to be bored between rehearsals or backstage.

Though you might act carefree, Gemini, we know that at heart, you're ruled by Mercury—and you have more in common with your sister sign Virgo than you'd like to admit. That's why you always have a toothbrush, toothpaste, and some floss in your dance bag. No way you're getting caught with food between your teeth (or bad breath during partnering class).


Not to be obvious, but as a water sign, the first and foremost thing a Cancerian keeps in their dance bag? A water bottle, of course. (Preferably a Hydroflask, S'well or any bottle that comes in a fun color.) No dehydration here, please and thank you.

Your dance bag also functions as a de facto vending machine for your dance besties, since you always come prepared with the best snacks, and you're always willing to share. As a bonus, your snacks are almost always homemade, since you're practically a five-star chef.

And while we're wary of zodiac stereotypes, there is a pretty good chance your dance bag is stocked with tissues. And there's no shame in that—because, really, who can get through a performance of Romeo and Juliet without shedding some tears? Props to you for being in touch with your emotions, Cancer.


We'll state the obvious, Leo. You love to look at yourself, and sometimes the studio mirrors just aren't enough. So, naturally, you always keep a compact mirror in your dance bag, just in case your makeup or your bun needs an extra touch-up.

You also love bright colors, and you're not afraid to wear more daring dancewear than any of your besties. You've usually got a couple of leotards packed in your bag, just in case you need to make a fashion statement, and they're always fun. Bright colors, loud prints, stylish necklines—you'll try anything.

But something not everyone knows about you? You're an amazing friend, and incredibly loyal, Leo. That's why you've usually got something in your bag for your dance bestie, be it her favorite brand of granola bar, a fun sparkly pin for her hair, or a note reminding her she's a star, on and off the stage.


You're incredibly hardworking, Virgo, so you've always got the tools for success in your dance bag. TheraBands, foam rollers, tennis balls—you're the one dancer your teacher can always count on to be stretching between classes.

You also love to be prepared, so you've usually got a makeshift first-aid kit in your bag. The thought of suffering a blister or floor burn without the appropriate salves or bandages makes you shudder, and, hey, it's always better to be overprepared, right?

What's most noticeable about your dance bag, though, isn't what's inside of it. It's what it looks like—your bag is pristine. It never smells like feet, and you've got a hard-core system for what you keep in each little zip pocket or compartment. And TBH, all of your dance friends are jealous, though they'd never admit it.


Like your sister sign Taurus, appearances are important to you, Libra. You like to look good (no shame in that), so your dance bag is always stocked with the essentials: extra hair spray, lip gloss, concealer, bobby pins and a spare leotard, in case you get just a bit too sweaty.

You also love to socialize, so if this were the 1950s, we would say that you always keep your date book in your dance bag. As it is, you always have your phone with you, and it's usually blowing up with texts from your dance besties asking to make plans.

Your dance bag wouldn't be complete without your secret supply of chocolate. But to be clear: This isn't your average Hershey's bar. Libras aren't afraid to indulge, so you keep a bar of luxury dark chocolate tucked away for when the cravings hit.


You can't fool us, Scorpio—the contents of your dance bag aren't some big mystery, like you'd like us all to believe. In fact, they're pretty basic: For starters, you always have a black leotard or two in your bag. After all, black is your signature color.

One thing that isn't in Scorpio's dance bag? Toe pads. You love to look tough, so you'd never be caught dead wearing toe pads with your pointe shoes. However, this does mean you need a hefty supply of Band-Aids for the inevitable blisters.

You also love all things mystical and, dare we say, witchy. You're the Halloween queen of the zodiac, after all! So it's no surprise you always have a crystal or two in the front pocket of your dance bag. Let us guess…moldavite?


You're an explorer, Sagittarius, and that applies to your dancing. You're always trying new dance styles, and that's reflected in your dance bag. You always have the trappings of your latest obsession in your bag: heeled shoes for ballroom, kneepads for contact improv, sneakers for breaking, the list goes on and on.

But on all of your adventures, there's one consistency: You love making memories. And that means literally—you document everything. At each performance or recital, you're bound to be the one with a Polaroid or disposable camera in your bag, and you can usually be found snapping backstage candids of your dance besties.

Your other favorite form of documenting? Writing it down. You love to learn, so you're always taking notes. You can usually be found after class scribbling down your dance teacher's latest piece of wisdom. Your dance bag is crammed with half-filled notebooks, and you wouldn't have it any other way.


You like to be prepared, Capricorn. And we mean prepared—for every bad scenario imaginable. That's why your dance bag is a mini survival kit. The first Capricorn dance bag guarantee? A stitch kit, of course. Losing a ribbon on your pointe shoe mid-rehearsal is your worst nightmare.

You also always have at least three spare leotards handy. After all, what if you spill something, or get too sweaty or, worst of all, show up to an audition in the same leotard as your dance rival? No, thank you. As a Capricorn, you're expecting the best and preparing for the worst.

Another key to your survival kit? Headphones, so you can drown out the noise around you and focus on your dancing. And before anyone asks, the answer is yes, you have the perfect playlist—for each and every occasion.


Aquarius, you love helping others. That's why it sometimes seems like your dance bag isn't even for you—it's filled with stuff you bring for your friends. Snacks for one dance bestie, Band-Aids for another, and tampons, of course, just in case anyone needs one.

But when it comes to you, you're all about originality. That's why you always have tons of fun accessories in your bag: striped legwarmers, colorful socks, tie-dyed sweats and more than a couple of fun additions to your ballet bun, just to make it a little more interesting.

You're also a rebel at heart, Aquarius, which is why there's usually something in your dance bag that just borders on breaking the rules. Maybe your studio is strictly black leotards only—and yours is gray. Or phones are completely banned—and you just put yours on vibrate. We see you.


Like your fellow water sign Cancer, you're big on hydrating during dance class. But as a Pisces, you're a little more imaginative (and a little less practical), meaning you're usually carrying your water in something aesthetically pleasing, like a mason jar, a tumbler, or one of those fancy water bottles with a crystal in the base.

Unlike Cancer, you're a mutable sign, meaning you can adapt to just about any situation. Counterintuitively, this actually means your dance bag is pretty sparse. Unlike other zodiac signs who feel the need to overprepare in case of disaster, you're comfortable in most situations, and your dance bag reflects it. You like the basics, nothing else.

Something most people might not know about you, though, is that you get cold easily. We're not sure why, but it's a Pisces staple. That's why if you keep anything in your dance bag, it's the coziest of warm-ups.

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