Dance Your Way to More Auditions

January 22, 2016

As important as it is for actors to diligently hone their acting skills, sometimes their special skills are what initially propels them through the industry doors. For instance, many actors kick off their Thespian careers thanks to their love of dancing. And why not? Dancing is an awe-inspiring form of art that is irresistible for people to watch and take part in across the globe, and it’s often in demand from a marketing point of view. But beyond that, dancing requires tremendous focus and discipline over years which builds both skill and character; it prepares its students to perform before an audience; it adds grace and strength to everyday movements; it comes in super handy when a character in a scene needs to dance or even do stunts–not to mention that dancing comes with the benefits of having a remarkably healthy glow, and a physically fit condition. In other words, any level of dance in an actor’s arsenal is a step–if not a leap–in the right direction.

The following acting talents started off as dancers before broadening their opportunities in the entertainment industry.

Julianne Hough started dancing competitively at the age of nine in the UK as well as the US. She attributes her fighting spirit and self-discipline to her dancing–both of which she said have come in handy when experiencing rejection as is custom in the industry. Her first acting role was in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as an uncredited role as a “Hogwarts schoolgirl.” Years later, she played a dancer named Georgia in the musical Burlesque, and her first leading role came a year later in the remake of Footloose when she played Ariel Moore. Here she is cutting up a rug as a child with her brother Derek, and Mark Ballas.

Some actors started as backup dancers in music videos. Michael K. Williams is known for playing Omar on The Wire, but was first a background dancer for Madonna and George Michael. Similarly, Debi Mazar appeared in music videos including Madonna’s Justify My Love; she eventually landed a role in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas even though she had no acting credits. Also, Tupac Shakur was a backup dancer for Digital Underground before branching out to acting and rapping. And then there’s Rosie Perez who started as a dancer on Soul Train, and was spotted by Spike Lee while at a dance club. Lee hired Perez in her first major acting role in his movie Do the Right Thing. Later Perez went on to choreograph In Living Color‘s Fly Girls which featured another dancing newbie, Jennifer Lopez. Here’s Jennifer as a Fly Girl.

Glee‘s Heather Morris started forging her career at the age of nine by studying dancing. Eventually, she tried out for So You Think You Can Dance; when she failed to make the top 20, she didn’t let it stop her. Instead, she forged on and became a backup dancer for Beyonce. Her breakthrough into Glee occurred when she was hired to teach the Glee cast members Single Ladies choreography. From there, Morris was invited to play the cheerleader Brittany. Here is Morris getting rejected from So You Think You Can Dance.

Many actors have their performance roots in ballet. For example, Michael DeLorenzo is known for the role of Detective Eddie Torres on New York Undercover, and he has ballet in large part to thank. He started dance performances at seven years of age, and came to gain scholarships from prestigious schools such as the School of American Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet. He was so skilled he even danced with legends like Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rudolph Nureyev. But as fate would have it, DeLorenzo tore the cartilage in his knee which prompted him to take on acting. He played a member of the Sharks in the Broadway revival of West Side Story, and later landed a recurring role in the television show Fame. Can you spot him as one of the dancers in Michael Jackson’s Beat It video?

Other students of ballet include Charlize Theron, Zoe Saldana, Patrick Swayze, Mia Wasikowska, Diane Kruger, Jamie Bell, Neve Campbell, Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn, Michelle Yeoh, and Penelope Cruz.

So what do you think? Does all this talk about dance make you want to get up and groove, or what? Remember to list and consistently update each and every one of your special skills on your Casting Frontier profile–no matter what your level of expertise–so that casting directors can quickly find you in their talent searches!