In August 2021, I set out with a mission to learn what it’s like to be a dancer in Los Angeles. In the past 8 years of living in this city, I’ve fortunately met five amazing, aspirational performers — Asante Parker, CJ Erasme, Danyel Moulton, Maya Kell-Abrams, and Natalie Klinge.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live this life? Adjacent to many but not quite a dancer myself, I set out to explore their dance origins, amazing performances, how they experienced March 2020, their inspirations and favorite choreographers, new aspirations, and so much more! It’s essentially a documentary.
Watch these incredibly creative and talented performers share their stories and teach me some dances! And at the end, I reveal a skill that’s only known by the people I’ve danced with in real life…
Asante Parker first danced at the age of 3, but really committed to dance at age 12. She recently was featured in Curology’s “Amplify Black Creators” campaign, and toured with Lil Baby. After Covid-19 hit, she moved couches around her apartment in order to teach early morning Zoom classes. Asante discusses anti-blackness within the black community in the dance industry, the influence of one of her early teachers Brooklyn Jai, and her plans to stay booked and busy.
CJ Erasme’s dance journey began with Hip Hop Kids in Florida. He followed his passion all the way to the Superbowl stage, and even manifested performing with Rosalia. The onset of the pandemic brought a brief depression, and even questions of whether it was worth it or not to pursue this professional industry, but it did not keep him down for long. CJ talks about how commercial dance is inspired by African American culture, his mentor Charm La’Donna, and his dreams of being a creative director.
Danyel Moulton was introduced to dance after her mom encouraged her to go to an art school audition. She learned how to dance within the commercial dance conservatory, but really found her groove once she discovered hip hop her junior year. From placing nearly dead last in her first competition to being invited to the prestigious Vibe* competition with her team V Mo, there’s no doubt that she is what younger dancers aspire to be. Danyel thought she was at the peak of her career during the start of 2020. She talks about how dance is a universal language, how she uses art to discuss the things people don’t want to say out loud, her inspiration Paris Goebel, and what’s on her horizon.
“The two weeks after George Floyd, I didn’t dance at all. I couldn’t. And that was the first time where I felt in my body that I was able to be okay if I didn’t dance all the time, which was scary for me. But that kind of solidified that dance is what I choose to do. I could survive without it, but I don’t want to.”Danyel Moulton
Maya Kell-Abrams loved the fierceness of Taekwondo and the physicality of basketball, but wanted something with more creativity and personal style. This led her to modern dance, and eventually the opportunity to be in one of Billie Eilish’s music videos. During the pandemic her brother cleared off his balcony to make room for her to dance, and she choreographed over Zoom with her friend every Tuesday. In fact, collaborating with her friends is not unusual for Maya, as they are also the people who inspire her the most. Maya hopes for a potential residency or long-term projects that allow the funding and creative freedom to do the work that she believes in.
Natalie Klinge did ballet as a kid before branching out to jazz, jazz funk, contemporary, and modern dance. When she went to UCLA she learned even more styles of dance, such as West African and Tai chi. She’s since been in music videos for Jackson Wang, Gryffin, and more. Natalie talks about dancing at home when studios closed, her favorite street jazz teachers Brian and Scott, and her ultimate goal: booking tours.
Each of them taught me a different dance routine in a different dance style! In the end we find out… does Elliott have what it takes???
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