Professional dancer Justin Jackson shared his fancy foot work with us this season in our Fall/13 campaign. Now Justin sits down for a little chat to tells us a little about his life, many passions and love of carbs (ah, to be a dancer!).
Full Name: Justin Jackson
Nickname: Never seemed to get one. Suggestions are welcome!
Age: 23 Hometown: Montreal Currently Residing in>: Montreal
Most overused phrase/s: Do you know what I’m talking about? and - Alright! Got chu.
Favourite Shoes: I have a serious crush on high tops, sneakers, moccasins, boat shoes and patent leather tap shoes.
Guilty of: Gaming, late night meals (I wake up at least once a night!) and long showers.
Occupation: Professional Dance Artist
Full-time Passion: Life, motivation and dance.
Part Time Passion: SINGING! I may not be the best singer but it’s something I catch myself doing a lot.
What is your first memory of danc(ing)? As a toddler, my parents made the weekends very musical. Motown, soul and reggae music were always playing. I remember us all getting up and dancing around the living room.
When did you know it would become a central part of your life: I really never had a clue! There was a time when I couldn’t help but bust a move from waiting at the bus stop and hearing someone blasting music from their car stereo to someone’s cell phone ringing rhythmically. I was never forced or pushed into it; it came naturally. I figured it would always be a part of my life.
What styles of dance do you do and what is your signature move? I am a professionally trained versatile dancer in tap, jazz, hip hop and ballet with tap dancing, body rhythms and musical theatre being my strongest genres. Audiences are always amazed with a step I do that makes my knees appear to be dislocated. It gets them every time!
Can you tell us a little about your So You Think You Can Dance – Canada experience?
I auditioned 3 times (season 1-3) in Montreal. The Saint Denis theatre was bursting at the seams with talented dancers, tricksters and personalities. Taking a spot in line, it was evident that there were hardly any tap dancers. Throughout the three seasons, I never had to face Blake’s boot camp. Instead, I was given a ticket to go straight to the next round in Toronto. It was intense with very early mornings and late nights and cameras everywhere filming our every move. I liked it! During the audition process, I went through many styles with the choreographers from hip hop, contemporary and musical theatre through to ballroom. Once I reached the final round, contestants had one last chance to perform a solo routine in their desired genre to prove why they deserved a spot in the TOP 20. Unfortunately the TOP 40 was the furthest I made it out of 10,000 contestants. After my solo piece, celebrity judge Mary Murphy gave me the title of being one of the Greatest Tap Dancers she’d ever seen. I was contacted later that season and invited to perform as a guest on the Season 3 Finale! I never looked back! Everything that happened was beautiful; I have the best memories.
What has been the craziest thing that ever happened during a live performance?
Wow! Where do I even start?! From auditorium lights going completely off to having the music that I’m performing to stop or the metal plates under my tap shoes flying into audience, there’s been some crazy fun moments over the years. The most shocking and surprising experience was having a huge screen projector (close to 10 meters in length/ 25 meters in height) silently decide to scroll down during a performance of mine. It missed me by a few inches. I continued to perform and began to improvise as if the screen was programmed to descend just for me. I received a standing O!
To date, what has been the most exciting opportunity you’ve gotten to perform?
There’s been some cool stuff. But being invited and flown to New York City to perform on the Wendy Williams Show takes the cake. It was more than an honor to be interviewed and given the chance to dance live nation wide. The whole experience was priceless!
Who is your greatest inspiration and why?
My parents Jacqueline Jackson & Amos Jackson, Grandmother Beryl Simon and former tap teacher Ethel Bruneau. They’ve given me strength, courage and wisdom. I know they will always have my back near or far.
What’s a typical work day like for you? Give us the run down.
My work days are usually never the same. Mornings can start as early as 4:30 am if I’m flying for business or 1:00 pm if working locally. I typically spend the first 2 hours after waking up responding to business inquires. Meetings, teaching, conducting, performing and rehearsals take anywhere from 3 to 10 hours of each day. During my quick breaks I continue to keep up to date with business inquires. By 10:00 pm I’m exhausted as I return back home.
Dancers are famous for their fantastically fit bodies. When you do indulge, what is your foodie guilty pleasure?
I’m definitely no stranger when it comes to carbs and comfort food! I love pasta, potatoes, garlic bread, pizza, Jamaican patties, Quebec’s infamous poutine and cheesecake! There is no specific time to indulge for me but more often than not it’s after a long days work.
What advice can you give to those budding dance talents out there?
1. Do the job because you like it.
2. Continue to surround yourself with people who share the same love, enthusiasm and passion as you in your profession.
3. Remain hungry.
4. Differentiate yourself as an artist.
5. Be the best you.
What is the next big fish for Justin Jackson?
My ultimate dream is to be invited on all the international talk shows. In a few months, I will be touring with five different dance companies throughout Canadian cities and U.S, as a dance competition faculty member, personal instructor and judge, providing critiques and commentary to future dancing stars. There’s more but I cannot give you the full scoop yet!