Trending

Each of These "WOD" Contestants Have Amazing Teachers Helping Them Achieve Their Dreams

Andrés Peñate and Charity Anderson, photo courtesy NBC

NBC's second season of "World of Dance" is in full swing, and we are obsessed. The dancing is incredible, and the stories are crazy inspiring—what more could we want? Tonight marks Episode 3 in the race toward a million dollars. To get you pumped and refresh your memories of the past two weeks, we caught up with three standout acts: Andrés Peñate and Charity Anderson; Jaxon Willard; and Sean Lew and Kaycee Rice. We've loved hearing their experiences so far and are happy to say that each act had the support of teachers and mentors behind them. Check it out!


Andrés and Charity

Dance Teacher: Where did you train?

Andrés Peñate: Legacy Dance Studio and Center Stage Performing Arts Studio.

Charity Anderson: Charisma Dance Studio and Center Stage Performing Arts Studio.

DT: Who choreographed this number?

AP: We did. We went to different teachers who gave us perspective on what they thought looked good, but ultimately we were the ones who choreographed and cleaned it.

DT: How did you feel when you were told you made it through qualifiers?

CA: Amazing! When I was on that stage for the first time, I had chills running through my whole body. Then when I saw the judges on their feet, I was like, "What just happened?!"

AP: Before we went onstage, we told each other we had no expectations and that we were going to do it for the experience. When we found out we got through, it was one of the best moments of our lives.

DT: What do you hope this experience does for your career?

AP: I hope this gives us the exposure we need to plant ourselves in the industry. It was important for me to leave my mark and be remembered.

CA: I am basically a nobody, so coming into this completion was so intimidating and was such a dream for me. Nobody knows who I am, and I hope I get my name out there and get some jobs, because I love to perform.

DT: What pre-show rituals did you do before going onstage?

AP: We always say a prayer, because we recognize the reason we are there is because of God. We couldn't make it that far without him. With all of the miracles we have witnessed and all of the strength we had, we wanted to show that we appreciate all we have given and hope we can give it our best.


Sean and Kaycee

Sean Lew and Kaycee Rice, courtesy of NBC


Dance Teacher: Where do you two train?

Sean Lew: Our training is all over the place. We train with a lot of amazing choreographers who have molded us into the dancers we are today. They all carry different types of knowledge, styles and backgrounds that we get to learn from. There is never a point when we will stop learning from them and growing.

DT: Sean, you mentioned you choreographed the blindfold piece you two performed on Week 1; can you tell me a bit about your process and the inspiration for it?

SL: In modern society, it's very difficult to surround yourself with people you can truly trust and love, so the blindfold represented our limitations and the fear that stops us from saying how we feel about each other. We tend to hide from truth and honesty. We don't always realize how crucial honesty is to having the people you love stick around forever. At the end of the piece, we demonstrated that the truth will bring you closer together.

DT: Could you see through those blindfolds at all?

Kaycee Rice: We could barely see anything. It was thin material, but we couldn't see through it. That added extra risk and really helped the piece.

DT: You both have been social-media stars for quite some time, and now that you're on "World of Dance" your influence will only grow. How do you manage the fame at such a young age?

KR: I think people let fame get to their head these days. For us, we just try to stay kids. We love sharing our passion with the world, and it's amazing to get the kind of response we have. It's humbling, and we are staying thankful and true to ourselves.

DT: What has it meant to you to be on "WOD" together?

SL: We didn't expect to be on such a big show together, and to have gotten the response we got in the first round is amazing. We are so grateful for all of the support we have gotten so far and are so excited to share what we have in the next round.


Jaxon Willard

Jaxon Willard, courtesy of NBC

Dance Teacher: What kind of response have you gotten since the show aired?

Jaxon Willard: So far people have been really supportive. I've been sent messages about photo-shoot collaborations, Bloch has messaged me about joining their agency and I've done lots of interviews with local TV stations.

DT: What was your mind-set when you stepped onto the "WOD" stage?

JW: I was terrified, and trying not to have a panic attack. It was scary for me to put something so personal to me out there. I was worried people would judge it, but as soon as the music started, I forgot everything and was living in the moment.

DT: You choreographed this piece. Can you take me through your process?

JW: I have to get in the zone when I choreograph. I find that showering in the dark and listening to music really helps. You naturally start moving and find what might work for you. Its a cool way to start choreographing. I got this song first and then started working out my story and how it all connected. Then I added the movement.

DT: Where did you train, and what kind of response did you get from your dance teachers?

JW: Center Stage Performing Arts Studio. They all just messaged me and said they were so proud of me. They thanked me for being one of their students and let me know they were really happy for me.

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

Keep reading... Show less
Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.