Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dancer in the Spotlight: Carlena Britch

Happy Canada Day everyone!

In celebration of Canadian talent, this month's Dancer in the Spotlight is featuring a BC-raised dancer who is making her face -- and moves -- known in the entertainment industry. You may recognize her from season 4 of So You Think You Can Dance Canada, but since then, 21-year-old Carlena Britch made the move out to LA to pursue her passion and has already landed gigs in music videos alongside artists such as Michael Buble and Victoria Duffield and in movies such as Disney's Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam and Nickelodeon's Rags. Most recently, she performed back here on Canadian soil at the MuchMusic Video Awards as a backup dancer for the one and only Justin Bieber.

Here's a clip from STYTCD Canada:

She started out under the main training of Kim Sato and her Vancouver-based company SOULdiers, where she learned about all the forms of hip hop dance and the four elements: DJing, emceeing, graffiti art, and breaking. Taking off from there, she has been affiliated with Vancouver's dance crews Diamonds In The Rough and StoneFoxx, as well as RAW Dance Crew in Toronto (I featured RAW dance crew member Gregory Villarico in a previous Dancer in the Spotlight - check it out here).

Carlena took the time to answer some questions about her dance life, so here's a great Q&A:

How long have you been dancing for?

Carlena Britch: I've been dancing since I was nine years old. So, almost 13 years!

Being from Vancouver, how has that influenced you as a dancer?

CB: Vancouver is a passionate city that contains many outlets for training and growth within dance and hip hop culture, both underground in the industry. It truly shaped the individual I am, and gave me the confidence to take what I do and use it successfully in other parts of the world. It gave me the direction I needed to utilize my talents and knowledge to the best of my ability.

You must also get to travel a lot -- could you tell me about some of your favourite places dance has taken you?

CB: Europe was incredible! I fell in love with each city I travelled to (Oslo, Norway; Vienna, Austria; Switzerland; Slovenia & Hannover; Germany) and was so inspired by the dancers and their unconditional love for what they do. It was a very humbling experience.

What has been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome to get to where you are today?

CB: The biggest challenge is one I deal with everyday -- believing in myself enough to make my biggest dreams, realities. Regardless of what you come from, you create your own life. It is a choice. Every morning I wake up and try to be better than I was yesterday, and remind myself that I deserve everything I work so hard for.

Who do you look up to in the dance world?

CB: I'm inspired by so many people in the dance world - we all have such unique strengths and I try to take bits and pieces from everyone I get to meet or work with. However, some of my favourite inspirations are Toni Basil from The Lockers, Shotyme from New York, and Toronto's very own Moon Runners. I do look up to some of the biggest names in the industry, but even some of the most humble class-takers inspire me to push harder at perfecting my craft and experiencing new and uncomfortable styles.

You've gotten to perform alongside Canadian superstar Justin Bieber on both The Voice and this year's MMVA's - how was that experience?

CB: It was incredible! Justin's someone I've wanted to dance for since the start, and the whole experience has been very surreal. I learnt a lot from the opportunity and feel like I've grown a lot as a dancer and performer. He's an extremely talented guy - and I love that he's Canadian!

What are some of the other projects you've been working on?

CB: Before the MMVA's, I was working on a new music video with the R&B singer Ne-Yo, and was blessed to perform alongside Jason Derulo at the American Idol finale. I'm currently training and focusing on some goals I'd like to tackle this summer!

How was that transition from living in Canada to the States?

CB: I made the move mid-March of this year; it was exciting, scary, and very overwhelming! But, this has been something I've wanted for as long as I can remember. My first visit to LA was in March of 2008, and i remember telling myself, "I want to live here by the time I am 21." So, in March of 2012, at 21, I made it my reality.

What was the best advice you've ever been given?

CB: To believe in myself, and not worry about the "how." By focusing on what we want most, the "how" will take care of itself, and everything else will fall into place as it's supposed it. I believe out minds are out most powerful instrument, and we can take on anything we desire as long as we truly believe so. 

So what's up next for you?

CB: My current dream is to go on tour with an artist, so right now I'm training, perfecting my craft, and staying focused. I am also enjoying the transition between dance and acting; since Rags came out last month I've been quite curious about developing my acting skills. It's been challenging but extremely exciting!

And as a dancer myself, I love hearing success stories like hers. An inspiration to many aspiring dancers out there, Carlena is continuing to make her dreams a reality and is showing that hard work does pay off.

Be sure to 'like' Carlena's Facebook page and follow her on Twitter @CarlenaBritch

- Christina
Follow my adventures on Twitter: @christinaaa28

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