Where There's A Will...

When Lauren Gottlieb was 7 years old, she started taking jazz and tap classes at Dance Action in Scottsdale, AZ—and she hated it. She tried to quit, but her mom convinced her to finish the year. At her first recital, her mom walked her on stage, fearful that Lauren would run off. But by the time the music ended, everything had changed. Lauren had fallen in love with performing. “From that moment on, I never looked back,” she says.

The spark ignited on that stage has kept Lauren motivated ever since. Today, the 22-year-old has become an in-demand commercial dancer. But Lauren’s not stopping there. She wants to conquer the entire entertainment industry, one genre at a time.

After her first recital, Lauren added ballet and hip hop to her schedule, joined Dance Action’s competition team and spent all her free time at the studio.

But before long, Lauren’s abilities had outgrown Dance Action. When she was 12, she began taking classes at the Bender Performing Arts school in Phoenix, AZ, where she focused on her ballet technique. “Lauren was driven to keep getting better,” says Kevin Bender, who co-owns the school with his wife, Meri. “Every year, we would see improvement in her technique and style.”

Although Lauren was progressing, the shift in intensity took a toll on her body: Soon after switching studios she pulled both her hamstrings. “It was frustrating, but I didn’t dwell on it,” Lauren says. She eventually recovered, but says she still struggles with her flexibility because of the injuries.

At Bender, Lauren continued attending competitions and conventions. Though her technique was still developing, her enthusiasm helped her stand out in the crowd. In 8th grade, she began assisting faculty members with West Coast Dance Explosion and traveled almost every weekend to demonstrate at conventions. A few years later, she won an assistantship with Co. Dance. “Lauren wanted success so badly, and it’s so much fun to work with a kid like that,” says Judy Rice, who’s been on the Co. Dance faculty for eight years. In 2005, Lauren was named Co. Dance’s “Performer of the Year.”

The following year, Lauren graduated from high school. She moved to L.A. just a few days later and began taking classes at the city’s leading studios. She also started auditioning—a daunting task for the new girl on the scene.

But the friendships she had built on the convention circuit eased the transition. As an assistant for Co. Dance, Lauren had developed a close relationship with faculty member Tyce Diorio. Almost immediately upon arriving in L.A., Diorio asked Lauren to assist him with his work as a choreographer for “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 2. Inspired by her experience behind the scenes, Lauren decided to audition for Season 3. Her vibrant personality, tireless commitment and versatility helped her become one of the final three girls that season.

Lauren says that appearing on the show was transformational. “It shaped me as a person,” she says. “My dancing felt more passionate.” On the show, she performed with the same fire that made her a standout at competitions. When she danced the tango, Lauren was precise yet powerful. In her final solo, between explosive jumps and controlled turns, Lauren relaxed into the music, letting her body roll and sway with each lyric. She filled the stage with her movement.

Lauren also used her time on the show to school herself on other aspects of TV production. “I studied Cat Deeley and the way the show was directed,” she says. “I would see why they would pick certain camera angles.” These skills have helped Lauren build a multi-faceted career. She hosted an online show called “Leave It On The Floor,” appeared as a dancer on “Glee” and has been recording music (“pop with a 1970s flair,” she says).

But she’s not leaving dance behind—only adding to her ever-expanding resumé. Last year, Lauren helped choreographers Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo revamp the Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil show Viva ELVIS. “We were redoing entire pieces, from lighting to costuming,” Napoleon says. Tabitha and Napoleon often sent Lauren off on her own to teach the choreography to the performers. She had to be able to think on her feet, adapting the choreography to suit the performers’ skills. “You need someone who understands that it’s not about having the dopest dance step—it’s about finding a clever way to make a formation change or to make someone look good,” Tabitha says. “Lauren’s really good at that.”

Lauren also continues to perform. In addition to dancing with Shakira and Mariah Carey, she has appeared as a dancer in several films, including Disaster Movie and Hannah Montana: The Movie. And she has returned to her dance convention roots as a faculty member with Co. Dance.

With her career blossoming, Lauren says she didn’t expect everything to happen so fast. “I just thought I was going to be a dancer. Now I’m going in all these different directions,” she says. But those who knew the young, ambitious girl from Arizona never doubted her success. Says Rice, “Lauren’s a prime example of, ‘If you want it, you can achieve it.’ "


Fast Facts

Birthday: June 8, 1988

Most played on her iPod: Rihanna and Ben Harper

Favorite movie: My Best Friend’s Wedding

Favorite dance movie: The original Fame

Must-see TV show: “Chelsea Lately”

Favorite food: Sushi

Favorite teacher: Brian Friedman. “His style always changes, so you have to be on your toes and you can’t slack off.”

Dance bag must-have: “Fifty changes of clothes! My entire wardrobe is in my dance bag because you never know what you’re going to need at an audition. There have been times when I’ve run out to the car to change after I’ve seen what other people are wearing.”

Dance idol: Tyce Diorio. “He’s taught me so much.”

Who would play you in a movie? Jennifer Love Hewitt

Dance crush: Wade Robson

Dream co-star: Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp

Advice for DS readers: “Stay in convention classes, because all those teachers and choreographers are people you’ll be auditioning for someday. And never be fearful. Never let go of who you are.”

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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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