NBC Dance - Nick Bloxsom-Carter

Ballroom Chat: Episode #23September 23, 2020

Nick discusses his dance experience from Cotillion to SYTYCD. Nick breaks down the behind the scenes differences between the production of the different commercial dance TV shows he has been a part of, his experience dancing for UVU, why cross-training has been so important to his dance education and why the ballroom team wasn't for him.

Nick Bloxsom-Carter has been dancing and teaching for over 15 years. He is a graduate of Utah Valley University with a bachelor's in dance and business, and has performed with many local dance companies including The Vibe Touring Company and Utah Metropolitan Ballet. He is most well know for his performances on Dancing with the Stars, making the finals on Live To Dance and making the top 20 on So You Think You Can Dance Season 9.

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Show Notes

Episode Transcript

Our transcripts are automatically generated from our audio podcast with only small modifications for readability. Since the transcripts are automatically generated from our podcast conversation, they will contain errors.

Samantha: Welcome back to another episode of Ballroom Chat. I'm your host, Samantha, with Love Live Dance. Before I introduce this week's guest, I'd like to give a thank you to Ballroom Box for once again, partnering with us for this episode. They are a subscription service box made by dancers for dancers. More on that to come later.

Today, I'm joined by Nick Bloxsom-Carter. He has been dancing and teaching for over 15 years. He's a graduate of Utah Valley University in Business and Dance. You'll also recognize him from performances on Dancing with the Stars. He was a finalist in Live to Dance and made the top 20 on So You Can Think You Can Dance Season Nine.

He's also performed with The Vibe Touring Company and the Utah Metropolitan Ballet. And as if that was not enough, he is also trained in ballet, musical theater, contemporary, jazz, lyrical, modern, hip hop, and of course ballroom. Thank you, Nick so much for being a guest on today's podcast.

Nick: Yeah. Nope, no problem. I'm happy to be here. Very happy to be here.

Samantha: So how are you doing these days? How, what, what is new in the life of Nick?

Nick: what's new, safely doing hobbies. I don't know. I was like, I was dying inside, you know, like, I totally want to stay safe and I want to like help the community. I'm doing zoom lessons.

I'm trying to only go in once a day, rather than. Ex, you know, trying to go out every single day. if I did have to teach, in person, but I've been trying to do, little the wins. I like to call them little wins. So, like, do you, you, you make a really great meal. That's a little win, right? It's a little boost of happiness.

You do a, a little workout every day. That's a little win. I, played tennis, you know, like definitely social distancing. That's a little win, you know, it gets you out at, I don't know, little wins kind of helped me survive.

Samantha: I like it. I like it. so, I like to ask all of my guests that are new on the podcast, kind of what your background is.

I went through a bunch of stuff that you have on your CV. but kind of how, how in the world did you find yourself in the dance industry? How did it all get started?

Nick: Sure. Yeah. it all started pretty much when my mom, I'm I grew up in the LA area. and there there's what they have a it's called Cotillion.

So, my mom wanted to actually, she put my brother in cotillion and my brother hated it. Oh, for those of you who don't know, what could tell you, and it's Cotillion is like a kind of basic ballroom dancing manners for little children, like I'd say 8 to 18. Right. and so all the guys wear these suits and all the little girls wear the dresses and you stand outside and then you, you know, you, you properly enter a building, you dance, you, Learn how to talk.

Like it's, it's basically just kind of manners and basic ballroom dancing, what you would do at kind of a social event. so, my brother took it and he absolutely hated it and refused to go again. So, my mom kind of, my mom said, I'm going to have a son in this family who can dance with me and if it's not your brother, then it's going to be you.

So I was, I was then forced out of my sports to do, to do dancing. And the first year I won, I won, Mr. Gentlemen. So, I was like, Oh, you can win stuff. Oh, that's, that's kind of cool. So then, so then I was like, yeah, I guess I'll do the next year. Like, I guess I'll do the next year. And then I won it again, I was like, well, I got to do the third year.

I got to see if I get like the triple threat, right. The one, two, three. And so, I just kept doing it. And then sadly, I didn't get the award the next year, but I got it the fall, the following year. So, I eventually got it. and then, and then, so, that was basically just one night a month. That was just like an hour and a half, one night a month.

and then I was doing so well, the, the. Mrs. Smith, she runs a she's amazing. She's absolutely amazing. she invited me to be on her kind of performing dance company and it's very low key. It's re it's like one rehearsal. I don’t know. It was, it was really fun. Very social. We performed at old folks’ homes.

We performed, just like any chance we could. it was such a fun team and there was an A-Team and a B-team, and I was on the B team and then worked my way up to the A-Team. And then at the Cotillion that I used to go to. she uses a lot of the better people on the teams to be like assistance on, in Cotillion.

And so, I eventually was an assistant in the Cotillion that I went to and then kind of. I didn't run the last year when I was a senior in high school. I didn't run the last year, but I, I definitely helped teach a good, good portion of it. Yeah. So, it was basically one of like, kind of social, one of like a, a very social learn how to do a basic Waltz.

And then before you get any further, you're going to do a Merengue and then you're going to do like a tennis ball challenge where you have like, Tennis ball sticking on your forehead with your partner, and then you want to try and dance and play games. You know, it was really fun. It was really fun.

Samantha: That's awesome. So you did cotillion, kind of more structured dance, but still with that fun atmosphere in high school, did you apply to UVU thinking that you were going into dance or did you go to it with the mindset of getting a bachelor's degree in business and then the ballroom dance kind of fell into place because of your previous dance experience?

Nick: Right. Okay. Wow. That's another. Yeah. some somewhere in like late in middle school, I saw Mad Hot Ballroom documentary. Super amazing, inspired me to want to compete, instead of just doing social and like a team, but I wanted to actually compete. so pretty much late in middle school and all throughout high school, I found my teachers.

Tomas and Isabella Lewandowski. Absolutely beautiful, wonderful people. Amazing, amazing. And I trained with them. I trained with Yuri in standard. I trained, I trained actually. I had a couple of different teachers, but I went all through high school training and training and training and competing the kind of LA circuit, a bunch of different comps.

and then my last year, my senior year. I got super burnt out on dance. And this was the first time I quit ballroom. I got super burnt out and I just quit my partner and I were going to a practice session. I was driving her into LA to the, the Westmore and I, we got to the PA, which was like an hour away at the time.

And we got like right on the street or like in the parking garage and we just looked at each other, like, I don't want to, do you want to do this? She's like, no, I don't want to, do you want to do this? I was like, no, we were talking about like fun things we're doing at school and my friends and everything and we both just like, don't want to do this anymore. Let's just like, I'll literally drive you home. I don't necessarily want to do this. So, I, I, I, throughout high school, I was focusing my acting and singing and plays and musical theaters. So, no, that was totally fine. So, the last, like the good portion of my senior year was not dance. So, when I was applying for schools, I already researched a lot of like different ballroom dance programs, scholarships versus clubs, and kind of what, what was there and kind of the best choice for me was UVU. and I applied for a scholarship and I, I did receive a four-year full tuition out of state scholarship, which was awesome, which was great.

And, so I definitely knew that when I was going to UVU, I was studying dance right, I was studying ballroom dance, but I didn't just want to do that. I also really like business. I'm an entrepreneur myself. So, like I love to, help businesses grow, make new businesses. You know, I love business. So, it just kind of worked, just kind of worked and they, they had a, I don't, they don't have these, those two, sorry, what was it?

It was integrated studies. So, I, I technically did a bachelor's of science in integrated studies, integrating business, dance and business management and ballroom dance. So, I don't think they offer those two anymore, sadly, but it was great. It was great. And I loved it. And honestly, it was enough work for like a double major, to be honest, but I almost minored in philosophy as well.

Samantha: I almost did as well in college. I was like two credits short, I think, of officially qualifying for a minor in philosophy. And,

Nick: that's crazy.

Samantha: Yeah. Yeah. Well, it's those. I'm going to use a term and I'm going to get ridiculed for saying it it's the fun classes. Right. And it's not necessarily that they're, I'm not saying that they're easy.

I'm saying like something that's

Nick: not easy.

Samantha: Yeah. It's something separate from your major and it, it works your brain in a different way than. What you have to do with, you know, your, your required classes. so yeah, for me, like, arguing about Descartes was like, yes, this, this is, this is a fun, hour long session.

I can enjoy this because I was an education major. So, talking about, you know, scaffolding and. Curriculum development,

Nick: not super joyous. Passionate. I don't know. I followed a philosophy teacher. I had like intro to philosophy was like a general I could take. So, I took it and I had this amazing, amazing teacher and the such a fun class to write.

And I, I just like looked him up and what he was teaching, and I would just follow him for like a, a year and a half. And I was like, Oh, as well, like almost two credits from getting a minor.

Samantha: Yes. Yeah. so, So You Can Think You Can Dance happened while you were at UVU, did Dancing with the Stars and Live to Dance, were those also tied into your UVU experience or were those separate from?

Nick: Yeah, I tend to, no. I tend to joke that like, when I was living in the LA area, I had like zero opportunity. And then when I moved to Utah, that's when I went back to LA multiple times a year. Commercial dancing basically am.

Yeah. All of that happened when I was in Utah going to school with 18 to 25 credits, of work and then teaching part time as well. Yeah, it was a lot, it was a lot, the first year and a half, I was kind of. Well, I was not kind of Nick, come on. I was unhealthy. yeah, it was, it was hard. It was, I was on like three different companies.

I was part time, teaching, full time student. and, and then later that freshman year I went, I was the, I went on Dancing with the Stars. I guess technically three times. But it was two different occasions. Yeah.

Samantha: And that was part of the UVU touring team or was that part, was that as a solo dancer as part of like an ensemble or a different performing cast?

Nick: Yeah. So, the, the, I believe the first time was. With the Vibe, the Vibe Dance Studio, and Rick, we knew Mark Ballas and we were able to be like kids of the future, show or like kind of insert. And so, Mark taught us a routine. We, we practiced it literally 5,000 bajillion times. And. And we performed it. And that was the first time I was on Dancing with the Stars.

That was a really fun, it was really a fun show. And then sadly that number haunted the rest of our Vibe life as we performed it, literally any chance we got and we were so tired of that number, that was funny. but then the second and third time was UVU, when it was like the collegiate championship, that was pretty fun, man.

I'm, I'm kind of surprised they didn't do that. Probably kind of expensive for them, but they do have a budget. So, I don't know. That was a great idea. It was a really great idea to showcase, colleges or different colleges, the, the dancers too, and kind of the rising talent and the collegiate world.

and like you. Oh, Oh, this is a hot take. but like ballroom dance and the collegiate, like competitive ballroom dance and the collegiate world actually don't, they don't really match like whatsoever. And if you're like, number one on your collegiate team in Ohio, that means almost nothing if you're competing in open amateur in Ohio, right.

Or like under 21, it's like that doesn't really mean anything, but it's kind of a cool, it's still kind of a cool thing they could showcase on Dancing with the Stars

Samantha: well and hope Jackson on. And she was, I guess, part of that same, same year, same touring company. and we were talking at the time, when she was on the, the fact that you guys were on and they did that collegiate like mini comp, inspired my little collegiate team at the time to go ahead and put a formation routine together for Ohio, the following fall.

Yeah,

Nick: that's awesome.

Samantha: Yeah. At the time we were doing, I was in college, we were doing collegiate competitions, Ohio and DC did C D C, D I think was DCDI. So, yeah, I, I completely understand, like, it doesn't matter if you survive the, you know, 250 couples in bronze at Ohio star ball, it, it doesn't equate at all to the amateur world.

Nick: yeah, but it's still like a great little, you know, it is still really fun. And it's a lot of team building and communication, and I don't know, there's so many great things to it. Not everything is about solo dancing with your partner, you know.

Samantha: Absolutely, absolutely. Well, and yeah, I feel like the, the experience at least that I had in Ohio in bronze and silver, competing syllabus really now informs how I put together routines in Pro-Am.

Because I'm used to being on a floor with 20 other couples in a, you know, round one of, if you make it to the finals, you're going to be dancing that same routine 10 times yeah. To get to the finals. So, like, okay. How do you position yourself in a way to be seen by the judges?

Nick: I just want to also say Hope. She's so amazing. She's a pot-stir goddess. I remember training for the UVU thing and we're doing pot-stirs and she's like, oh yeah, how do you do this? Okay. I was just like, perfect. It was insane. She's a champ.

Samantha: She is. She's amazing. She's absolutely amazing. the other thing that I talked with hope about, and I want to get your opinion as well is season nine of, So You Can Think You Can Dance, what was that experience like?

what, what were your kind of main takeaways from that experience?

Nick: whew. Yeah, season nine. So You Can Think You Can Dance. It was, eye-opening. the, I was used to, Oh boy. I was used to, Dancing with the Stars and, so my commercial trend went Dancing with the Stars three times and then live to dance was the next year.

and then after that it was, so, So You Can Think You Can Dance. On dancing with stars, I think they're a really great show. They have a really, really big budget and they have a lot of experience just with like, knowing what to do and taking care of people and like they know how to do it care people. So, like they, it's a really awesome show to be on period. Live to dance was its brand new show. So, there's going to be some hiccups, right. which. Honestly was all kind of expected though. It's a brand-new show. I think they did a really amazing, if you don't know, Live to Dance, it was like the original World of Dance. that's now on like Live to Dance was Paula Abdul's try at kind of the World of Dance.

It didn't end up working out. I don't think there was a second season, but, World of Dance just does it a lot better. And, it was a new show and people kind of expected hiccups and they are honestly so many people, they had a wrangle, like that's, it's a lot. And then, So You Can Think You Can Dance, I did not expect as many the hiccups from a well-experienced show.

and you think they, I didn't. I thought they'd have all this, honestly, like a bigger budget to help try to take care of people too. Like I felt, I felt, I felt like I was taken care of most parts, but then other times it's like, we were treated like cattle almost like we were treated just like the talent.

And sure, we'll serve them like a like a, like a huge, like Mexican, like burritos lunch while we're doing a 16-hour day. And we've, hadn't like, like nothing. And there's like, no, there's no like healthy options, there's no salad options. There's no like good protein bars. It's just like, it's like pizza. It's like, wait, what, what are you doing, why? This is.

Thanks. Thanks for the food, but it's actually like harming us in our training right now, especially because we did have 16 hour days of straight dancing, 14 hour days of straight dancing. Like it was kind of surprising. but the, I really loved. yeah. So, So You Can Think You Can Dance? I still believe to this day that like the hardest thing I've ever done was Vegas week on So You Can Think You Can Dance. That by far was the most challenging, the most, stress and adrenaline, like everything I've ever done, it was insane. And people who kind of survive it, I think can do almost any dance job. I was, I was saying this for a while. I still kind of believe in this too. Like if, if you actually make it to the end of Vegas week and you're on the top 40 of, So You Can Think You Can Dance you've won. You've already won. you can get like any dance job just based saying I've, I've done. I made it to the top 40. Okay, you're hired. that's, it's so hard. for those of you who don't know, what, what the top four, making it to the top 40 um making through all the way of a Vegas week.

You, you go, you check in to your hotel in Vegas, you get ready. And then the, the nighttime is when you like check in to the So You Can Think You Can Dance and that's your first, it's like you check-in and then like 30 minutes later, you're learning hip hop from Twitch and, Comfort. And it's in like the lobby. It's literally, there's so many people there too, there's like 400 people. Half are on onstage learning it. And then the other half are in the theater lobby. So, like you're in the big Vegas hotel and then there's like the theater where all the shows are. Right. So, so you think rented it out for a week.

So, some of you are learning it in the lobby where there's. I don’t know, it's like not an equal space. It's not like it's a rectangle or like a giant space. There's like the bathroom door opening next to you and like 5,000 people beside you. You can't see. It's like, it's insane. It's you there's like no prep to there's no, like speech there's no, like you can do it. It's check-in, what are your songs? You can't have these songs. You need a new solo. Okay. This works, go to the back of the line. Get ready to dance in five minutes. So, then you learn. Yeah, you, you basically learn one dance at night, half and then like half are gone. Maybe a third are gone and then you basically learn two to three dances from these amazing pioneers of dance.

These choreographers, these dancers, and you have to learn it in a, in about 45 minutes to an hour. You have to learn perfectly. Sometimes you can't see the teacher at all. You have to learn from other people dancing it, which is also very not, that's not good. That's scary. And then when they say switch lines, you know, like half the people don't switch because they have a good spot to learn. Funny enough, they provided really great food in Vegas week, but no one could really eat. Because the stress levels were so high, so no one was eating. You literally, I couldn't eat. You had to like force the littlest of food in your body. So, you can have the energy, but you're so stressed out, you can't eat.

and I actually almost passed out. This was really great. So, on when it was the ballroom section, I was so excited. I was so excited. I was like, I made it to the ballroom section by now a lot of the ballroom guys and girls were cut from like hip hop. I don't know, may have been jazz. I don't, I don't remember ballroom was somewhere in the middle.

And so, I think it was just Hope, Trey, myself, and like, Oh, Lindsey, Whitney. And I think like one other girl and. I think Trey was there. Trey got cut before Hope did. which was sad. The, the ballroom. Yeah. So, I went so hard, so full out in ballroom. Like if I get, I like, I want to at least make it, the ballroom goes full out as I can.

And just show them what I can do. And I absolutely killed it. I did so well, and the choreographer was like, you, like pointed me out, everything. Like it was amazing. And then I made it through, sat down, watching everyone else. I'm just like, Oh God, I'm kind of thirsty. I need something, I need some water or something.

Or like, everyone's eating bananas. Like I should eat a banana. I get up. Go to where there are bananas. Cause you're eating 50 bananas a day. That's actually all you're eating. You're not eating real like meals. You're just, people are throwing bananas at you saying, eat the banana, eat the banana. So, I get the bananas and I start to get lightheaded.

I'm like kind of need to sit down and there was a kind of a medic around and she put me on like oxygen and as I'm breathing the oxygen I even like get, I get a more woozy and like it was bad. almost. I almost went home. I feel like if I actually passed out and like maybe, maybe if I hadn't danced, they would have sent me home.

Cause there was people hiding injuries all the time, because if you were injured, they'd send you home.

Samantha: Well, so here's a question for you. and then, and then I do want to talk about the experience post Vegas week. but comparing what you're talking about with being feeling like you were being taken care of really well at Dancing with the Stars and then feeling maybe not the same level at, So You Can Think You Can Dance.

I wonder if part of that is the structure of the show, but also who the advocates are on the show because with Dancing with the Stars, you have professional dancers. That know what their bodies need, know what, rest, know how to take care of injuries and prevent injuries, you're dealing with celebrities and athlete that also like their job is to stay healthy. Right. So I feel like, like the team with Dancing with the Stars is probably coming from a place of, yeah, we're doing a dance show and yes, we want dance to be the highlight of it, but we also need to protect the people on, on the show, whereas from an outsider perspective, So You Can Think You Can Dance always kind of seemed more like reality TV. And I feel like, and Hope kind of, we talked a little bit around it I'll say, it felt almost like the worst, the worse the conditions were for the dancers, the more interesting the TV was going to be and that was the main driver in, in some instances.

Nick: Right. yeah, so, so I think you're totally spot on, on Dancing with the Stars. let's be real though. It's still a reality show and there's drama where there doesn't have to be. And I think a lot of the pros could even push their students more like, like. I don't know, like I stopped when I was little and doing cotillion.

I loved watching Dancing with the Stars, but after the second or third season, I'm like, this is trash. Like, are you kidding me? I can do like my, you can push these people way harder. But I think, I think, and I think the pros are just kind of resting and then what's made Dancing with the Stars, have a real comeback somewhere like.

In the, I don’t know, nine, eight seasons up until like the 15, 20 season was young pros started caring. That's basically what it was like young pros started pushing and carrying and that's, what's really put Dancing with the Stars back on the map. That's why I'd love to love to do that. But I think you're also right in the sense that do you have the pros that can say, Hey, we're actually done.

And that the crew says, no, we need to go for another hour. The pro goes, bye, like, see ya, my celebrity and I are leaving. You can film us driving away. How about that? You know what I mean? Like, yeah, you definitely don't have that on, so you think. So you think is, way more way more about the, the dire situation.

Sure, sure. how, you know, after hour 13 of dancing with only a 30-minute break, I wonder let's interview them now and then feed them lines. Yeah. I don't know. People really know this, but like, you got fed lines. You, you, you they'll tell you to say something to like push a narrative that the producer thinks.

You know, will be, will be good. Will be, relatable or readable on TV. so the experience, you know, post Vegas week after completing that and making it to the top 40, you feel like you can do anything. And then you're in the Green Mile. You go like two weeks later and that's when they cast just based on, you know, looks appearances, personalities and like a rounded out show like, Oh, they need a token ballroom guy. He's the only one left. They need, they need at least three ballet. They need at least two ballet dancers and eight jazz dancers. They got to have a tap person. And then like, are you, are you native American? Are you of African American?

Are you white? And then like, are you bubbly? Do we want some angsty guy, you know, it's like, it's like they have to like cast their show and then yeah. And then comes the pain and then comes like the terribleness of like cliques. I think the worst part for me was a lot of the friends you make. They're not actually, like, they're not actually friends.

You keep or necessarily the friends you want. It's just like the friends you're forced to have

Samantha: it's friendship for survival sake.

Nick: Yeah. And actually, a lot of the good friends I made in Vegas, none of them got through. And that's like a big thing that happens to a lot of people is that the, the people you end up, like we, as humans are communal people.

And so, you know, everyone's traveling from all over the nation to Vegas. It's like, I guess, Hey, you look kind of fun. And you're a really good dancer and Oh my gosh, we clicked. And then in five hours they're gone, and you never see them again. Or, you know, in, in three days at the very end they didn't make it.

And so, all the friends I made in Vegas, only one stayed at Green Mile, but then I don't think, I don't think they, they didn't make it to the show. So, I, I was 20 at the time and I was a lot, there was like an older group. People who are like 26, 28 um 27, 24. I was way more friends with those people than the 18, 19, 21, 22s,18.

Like it was, it was a real big difference, I think just because I was, I didn't want, I didn't want drama. I just wanted to dance. I just want to dance and show like other styles of dance that I've been working on for years and years. I still think like w well, I still know I was one of the best all-around dancers on the show.

I was like top two guys, but I just did ballroom every week. Like I think, I think the way that they set up the show, the way they treat their contestants, the way, they take care of people, it's not actually conducive to good, talented showcasing. They showcase it in like their way. I don't know.

That's weird. My favorite part on being on the show was the hair and makeup and the producers. Okay. I gave some, like, I gave some flack to the producers earlier, but they're like genuinely, really good people and they always try to make you like show in good light. And like I've had producers sometimes like stick up for me when I was dancing, you know, 50 bajillion hours. And like, I even, I even had some producers say like, Hey, like, are you okay? And like, try to stop or like, they actually talk to you. Like, you're a human being rather than, rather than the executive producers, the, those guys were just in it for the drama. And then, the hair and makeup were like, look, we have no part in this show.

We just come and like, make you look good, so you can talk to us about anything. And that was, that was really nice. So yeah, hair and makeup and some of the producers were really good. but yeah, it's interesting. Like if you're not, if you're not on that show, if you're not, you know, what they deem as popular or going to go far or.

You know, something, whatever. if you don't have enough drama, they just kind of forget about you. Like, I was really happy for the experience. I wanted to dance really hard. I wanted to dance and showcase what I could do, but that's not what the show wanted. You know what I mean? I was like, that's not the, sadly, that's not the show you go on for that type of thing.

And I didn't know that.

Samantha: Gotcha. Well, let's take a quick pause here before we jump into life post, performing on TV. I want to give a quick thank you to Ballroom Box once again, for partnering with us for this episode, if you are not familiar with ballroom box, it is a quarterly subscription service made by dancers for dancers.

Their goal is to equip and inspire dancers of all levels and skill sets. Their fall box is about to launch, If you follow them on social media, or if you are subscribed to their newsletter, you got a sneak peek of the gold drink tumbler and the Chella cosmetics, lip and eye pencils that are included in this box along with a bunch of other goodies that have yet to be announced.

So, if you are interested in subscribing for your first Ballroom Box, please go to ballroombox.me. There's a link in the description box below and use the code BallroomChat at checkout. Again, that's BallroomChat, 5% off your subscription, and part of the proceeds go to supporting this podcast.

So, thank you again, Ballroom Box for partnering with us.

Nick: I wonder if there's a shoe brush in there, there probably is,

Samantha: I know there was not one in the summer box. I don't know if there's one in the fall box. the summer box was really great. There was a journal from, the girl with the tree tattoo. There was a USB drive, some shoe socks for converting your tennis shoes into danceable shoes and a bunch of other stuff.

So, yeah.

Nick: Cool.

Samantha: Very cool company. and I think they were originally. I'm not going to try and remember the brand name, because I know I'm going to get it wrong in the moment, but they were a dance dress company or a dance dress consignment company, pre pandemic. And they have pivoted their business to now doing the subscription box service. So, yeah

Nick: nice.

Samantha: Yeah. so, you have all of these experiences in college with performing for commercial TV. Graduate UVU. what comes next? Did you jump right into teaching and coaching or continuing to teach and coach, or was there a thought or intention of, of pushing more the performance end of the world?

Nick: Yeah, so I finished UVU in four and a half years. The last year and a half. I did like 22 to 25 credits. Just to make it four and a half. The last semester I taught, I was teaching, moved up to Salt Lake because at the time I was in Orem with or Provo at UVU, and then teaching at DF Dance. and I was T it was so weird.

Like I was teaching privately all throughout this, with students maybe like seven to 15 hours a week. and then I think the last, I just the last year or so my, so, I guess I was teaching throughout the whole time, but then I started working at DF Dance, which is a studio in Salt Lake. And, I was nervous.

I was, so I was weird. I was so nervous. just cause I, I think it was a new experience and I was so young, I was like 20, 21 and I wanted to make a good impression. And I start, I started my first lesson. They're so cool. I hope they're still around. it was a couple from Park City, and he was a judge.

He's a judge and I don't know what she does. And they would have like a couple of beers before they'd like go to a bar, have a couple of beers before. So, they would, they would be all loose and like, Oh, man, I could have joined you for this. I could have been loose too. but it was so fun and, I taught a lot of, social couples first.

but I think I really thrived with competitive, whether they're key kids, teens, pro-am like, middle aged women or even older women, anyone. I even started to teach some well not social couples, like of course I didn't do that, but I was, I was strict. Like I, my, my training on my like really hardcore Polish and Russian training from LA, like came out of me and I was like making people do workouts and across the floors for like, 45 minutes out of a 55 minute lesson.

And it was like, just was like, no, that's actually what it is. And you're going to do that. And I don't care what you thought you'd get. That's not what it is. And if you're going to, like, if you want to do well, you're going to listen to me and that's, and then like in, in people saw that. And I think people really love that. I think people really love the idea that someone was so passionate that dance can really be a sport, not just a hobby that, that you can take something so seriously and see like immediate gains, like you can really see and feel immediate, pros just from, just from having a really intense session.

And, and that, that kind of, that kind of skyrocketed me in that studio space. and then I left that studio space, maybe like eight months later, I left that studio just because of internal stuff. And, I went solo. I went private. So, I just had, students, I have people contact me. I started to become the, this is, this is going to sound.

I don't want to say this. I'm like a. in like a braggy way, but that was like one of the more top people in like the top competitive Latin coach in Salt Lake for a while. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. Other competitive will in Salt Lake. I don't know. The Salt Lake scene has died down a lot. It's now it's now like North Salt Lake is pumping out.

they're going hard at it. And then Utah County is always just like this nuclear explosion of like, kids, and talent and like training and like, there's this, there's a ballroom studio. Like I literally hear of a ballroom studio opening up every like two months in Utah County. I don't understand how there's so many, but there are so many kids that would make sense.

Samantha: Yeah. I think the difference, Krista, who we had on the show earlier is now the director for it was Davis County ballroom, but she's renamed it don't remember the rename, but, I, I feel like with Davis County and with Utah County, you do, I have this explosion and a support network for youth competitive dance sport.

There's a real push for youth and teen amateur dance sport in those two counties. In salt Lake County, at least in my experience, it's more adult focused like the, the pro-am or the social couples or the wedding couples. Like the adult scene in Salt Lake County is pretty strong, but the youth program is either nonexistent or it's very, very quiet.

Nick: Yeah. No, I, I hear you. I know of. Well, what am I saying in, I would just agree with that 100% and salt Lake? There's not a huge youth scene. Yeah. it's way bigger in Davis and Utah County, for sure. I don't know that. I don't know why it's not supported. It's all like, it's all just one stretch of long North to South land and salt lakes in the middle of that.

But yeah, it's, it's, it's strangely, not as, it's not the same. I think, I think the reality is people in Salt Lake County don't or let's say um the youth, the youth in salt Lake County. Either don't hear of anything or don't know of anything in Salt Lake. And they all take the 40-minute drive to Orem. You know, they all take the drive to BYU and their teams and their coaches, BYU, and the amateur coaches they take it to, or, whether it's center stage and strictly ballroom and, and peak and.

Literally like name a studio. Like it's just like, they just take the drive there. Cause they're like, Oh, that's where everyone goes. That's where I needed to go. Yeah. And then the people in Davis County go, well, we're definitely not driving an hour down to an hour, hour 10, right. Through Salt Lake to Utah County.

So, we're just going to have a huge hub here. So, salt lakes, like, I guess I can train in Davis, or I can train in Utah. I don't think they realized that there's really great teachers like yourself and myself and some other people I know that that are here and can train really great dancers in Salt Lake County.

Samantha: Yeah. It'll be interesting to see. The next kind of five years of Salt Lake County. cause I've only been here for five years now. And just in the last five years, I've kind of seen a turnover as far as who's staying in the County versus who's either heading North or heading South or heading to California.

so, it'll be interesting to see if, if there's ever a foothold in salt Lake for that youth amateur program, it would be nice to see. I think I like you said we have the talent.

Nick: I laugh because it's like an actor saying I'm going to New York. It's like, a dancer goes. I'm going to LA you can't stop me.

It's like, okay.

Samantha: Yeah. Yeah. I want to talk a little bit about your cross training or not really your cross training, just your training. yeah, so, so do you see yourself as a ballroom, a ballroom dancer first and the others are other styles that you have trained in and that you were interested in, or do you see yourself as just an all-around dancer?

You kind of mentioned when we were talking about, So You Can Think You Can Dance that you, you were an all-around dancer. Do you see yourself that way? As far as, either coach or just your own personal dancing is just kind of an all around. I can dance, whatever style you.

Nick: Yeah, that's a good question.

I think if I were to say I'm not a ballroom dancer first. That would be a disservice to my, like the training I put in. Cause I, I, I will, I was about to say, we have to remember. I never said this to anyone. So the, we is like just the me. I have to remember that. I only started doing other dance training, my first year or actually, no, my, my.

Second year of college. That's insane. Is that for real? No, I think, I think that's accurate. Oh my gosh. That's insane. Okay. Yeah. Wow. so I just soaked that right up. that's a really short amount of time. The, I did acting and singing. I was in a church choir when I was really, really young, for like years and years and years.

And then when I went into eighth grade, they kick all the, the, all the guys out, cause they want a very nice high pitch choir. and then let's see. And then I did acting all throughout high school and musical theater and I did more singing in high school. And so like, I really loved that aspect of it.

And I still believe that's cross training that everyone should do. I constantly say this to my students. If, now I'm going to forget. Of course, no, I constantly say this to my students. A good performance will turn bad dancing into good dancing and a bad performance will turn good dancing into bad dancing.

Right? So, so if you don't perform your good dancing is going to look meh. It's going to look worse than what it actually is versus, you know, a mediocre dancer or a bad dancer who performs the heck out of it right. They're, they're actually going to look pretty good. They're going to look up there. There's going to, that's going to be a re questionable when the result, right?

It's like, it's not just, Oh, you're clearly last. It's like, actually you may actually get a couple points. You may actually take the place. You know? So I think acting is sanely important, which, which is why I teach so much of musical theater, and acting in my lessons. But I started cross training my second year of college.

I did ballet and I loved ballet so much. I soaked it up. And then I started guesting with URB, which is now, Utah med. And, I did so much ballet. I did some modern, I'm not a, if you're one of my students, you know what I think of modern, but I just, I'm not a fan of it. I'm not a fan of just the hands. No, no modern has its, modern is I totally respect it. 100%. It's a great style. It has great teachings. It's not for my body. Ballet is more for my body than modern is. So, I even did like a summer in New York at white mountain, white mountain summer dance festival. Believe that's what it's called. It was an amazing experience.

Three weeks of like hardcore, modern ballet. Structure. It was really fun. modern's great, just not for me. ballet, hip hop. I'm very much. I started. Oh, this is interesting. So I did ballet. I started in men's class. I didn't even start in like a ballet technique class. I didn't even know what bar was. I just like, Oh man's class, sure. My friends are in it. I'll do it. that was, that was a happy mistake. I don't recommend anyone doing that. but I had fun. I was able to pick it up a bit. and then, and then I started actually dabbling more in hip hop and contemporary because I was really, I was this, I was this angsty college artists.

I was this, I was this choreographer. You know, I was, I was just like such a little brat. I was so probably terrible to be around. But I was like, I was watching all these videos of choreography. And so you think, and like, this is, this is what I want. Like I can do this. So, so, I still love choreo. I think I'm fairly good at choreography.

And I think after being on, so you think, and like, I actually wanted to be the choreographer. I didn't necessarily want to be the dancer in all of this. I just want to be the choreographer. I, I w I was like, I want to be on, so you think you could dance? What do I need to do? I probably need to learn different styles of dance.

So I did the UVU like contemporary club, or I was like on the board of, and like, I, I, I went every week and I, I tried to train just by clubs and I did hip hop club and I went every week and then eventually, like my friends and I, we all kind of. I didn't make any of these clubs, but I was, my friends did, and we were all there while it was going on.

And, I like performed a hip hop piece, the club when we did it. And, and, I did like a duo hip hop with a really awesome friend, Molly. And. I don’t know, it's so fun. Like I started to get better just through, just through clubs. I will say though, I did take lessons in jazz. my teacher was really awesome and yeah, so I was, I was doing club.

I was like ballet was through school. It was hip hop club, contemporary club, jazz was through just like studio lessons. And at the time I was also trying to learn contemporary through the studio, I was kind of teaching from and, and taking classes at, but it was a kind of a negative environment for learning.

Actually, I really, really struck can't stress this enough, the environment and atmosphere and which you learn will dictate how you learn. That was, that was well said. I was in a really, I was like trying to learn and I'd like, look to my friends and they'd laugh at me or like they would, they would just treat me so poorly.

I don’t know. It was, it was really hard. It was really hard. And like, if the teacher doesn't notice that or stand up for you or like you say something, but they don't do anything. It's like, is that the studio you really want to go to? And so I, I kind of, I quit that studio and I, I, I just went all in at school.

And the training at school and the friends I have were supportive and the teachers I have are the supportive, I had a really great ballet teacher. He was like a mentor to me, Mark. And he, he really trained me very well. And he grew up with an acting background as well. So, He knew how to teach me.

He really knew like how. How to talk to me how like every, every, as a teacher yourself, like every student has their own way of learning has their own way of listening. You can't talk to everyone the same. So like he, his language was my language and I think that's why I was able to learn so quickly. And so well at UVU, I can't thank him enough.

It was great.

Samantha: Well, and I think that's an important point. and I'm going to kind of hit on two things that you mentioned in there. The first is, the studio environment and your instructor, and how it all needs to come together to create a positive learning experience. you were, yeah, you were your, the tone that is set in the studio, I think is going to reflect whether or not you take your instruction seriously.

Nick: Sure

Samantha: because it's, it's setting whether this is going to be a fun atmosphere, which is great. This is going to be a stressful environment, which some people subscribe to that model. So, you know, there, you have it, or this is going to be a structured learning environment. I tend to try and put myself in the structured learning environment setting as much as I possibly can.

because I feel like for me, that was the best conduit to learn in my own dancing. And then as the instructor, you need to be both the advocate for the student and a student of your student, because you are learning based on their feedback, what works really well and what doesn't work really well. So you can tailor your teaching style to that individual and not every individual that's come beforehand.

which means that as a student, you will walk into environments and say, okay, this doesn't work for me. And you should be empowered to leave or, yeah. Okay. I've done, you know, three lessons, five lessons, 10 lessons with this instructor. They're still not hearing me or getting me or reflecting back what I need in a supportive way.

Let me go find somebody else. But if you walk into that environment and you're like, yes, the studio works and yes, this instructor works. Oh my gosh. That's like the best experience ever. And those are the lessons that you're going to take with you wherever you go. With that, you mentioned that modern just doesn't fit within your body. Cross train in a bunch of different styles because what you think really works well or what feels good or what you're good at. You may go somewhere else and try ballet or hip hop and be like, Oh no, this feels good. Or I can get this or you may try something else and be like, you know what? Nope. I look flaily and awkward if I try tap dancing. So maybe I won't tap, you know, you got it, you got to see what's out there and you got to try everything. You should if you are a student of dance and dance inspires you and is a passion for you, like try a bunch of different things, try a bunch of different instructors and studios and styles and see what clicks

Nick: absolutely. Yeah. I, I, I will always be the biggest proponent of cross training. always, always, I stopped taking private lessons for a year and a half, and just did ballroom team dancing. And if you know anything about team dancing, I got worse, right? Like, like you just kind of get worse when you, when you team dance. Well, I shouldn't say that

Samantha: it works really well for some people.

Nick: It didn't work for me, if you want to really, if you're on a good team with a good director, your team dancing, you won't get necessarily worse.

I just didn't have that wonderful experience on a team.

Samantha: let me ask you this. What motivates you? As a, as, as a student, as a performer. Yeah. Yeah, no. As, as a student, as a performer, as a dancer, what, where do you find your motivation? Because it sounds like from everything that we've talked about and just kind of knowing you, personally, outside of this interview, I would say that you are motivated by accomplishment.

Nick: Oh shit.

Samantha: No, but I mean that, but I mean that in a good

Nick: no, I I'd say you're right. Yeah. so, wow. That's a really, deep in there question. Let me just finish the one thought I had. So the. I didn't take any lessons for like a year and a half. And then I was better at dance just from cross training.

And like, sorry, like, as you were saying, like, you might, you might fail as tap. But when you fail this tap, you learned about weight placement about where your weight is and where your weight on your feet is and where your body weight is. And how do you accurately do this? So when you go back to dance, you'll you take what you learn and you add it.

It's not like a subtraction or replacement. It's an addition. And I think people need to realize that, anyways, what motivates me to, teach dance perform. What, what specifically? Any of it? I like it when, yeah, accomplishment. So I do like the accomplishment, so much so that I, I sometimes get depressed when I feel like I'm not doing anything, which is, is not okay. That's not healthy. I place a lot of value on work. I place a lot of value on, success, work, events, stuff like that. Like I'm doing things and boy oh boy, has that been fun during COVID-19. So I've been trying to relearn kind of what. What, what's important. What's healthy, I guess at the end of the day, what's healthy. I also, it would also be a disservice to myself as to say that I wasn't motivated by students.

Like, this isn't just me trying to like, stay on, just plug myself, but at the end of the day I'm a, I'm an extremely. I'm not, I wouldn't call myself like a teacher. I'm more of a coach. I will coach you. I'm not just going to teach you stuff and like peace out. I'm going to be there for you. And I invest a lot into my students, actually so much so, when I first started teaching at DF, I was like, so hyper focused in my students that like when they were upset, like. Like I would be so disheartened or like my emotions were way too in tune with my students. I like, I had to actually step back and go like, okay, they didn't take a lesson with you this week and they're just doing next week.

That's not a personal take on you, Nick. I was like, I would, I would get so, hyper focused cause I was so invested. But I think, I think what motivates me a lot too, is, is to see the, the, the, the potential and the rise in talent in my students, especially, Sam, you know, this, but the audience doesn't, I teach a lot of kids, teens and college students.

and they're, they're, they're already like, you know, as a human being they're growing and learning. And um learning their muscles, their, their eye, hand coordination there. They're dancing, you know how they work at school, how they work at their job, you know, and I, I will train. I will train you to like, not just be a good dancer and have good technique and good work ethic, but I'll teach you how to have good work ethic at your job.

I'll teach you how to get good grades in your school. How to be like a. I hate to say this, but like a proper person, like what does that mean? It just means being a good person, getting your work, done, making your dreams come true. Like a lot of people I'll train to, like, what do you want in life? I'll help you get it.

I'm a coach. I'm not just a teacher. Like you want to, you want to get that? Do you want to be like a performer on a cruise ship? Okay, let's go. I can teach you ballet, jazz hip hop. I can teach you ballroom. I can teach you how to act and perform. I'll tell you what it takes to like get there. How many hours you need to train.

Like I can literally take it every step. You want to be an accountant? Sure. Yeah. I can help you with your work ethic. I can help you with time management and I can help you with all that type of stuff. So. I really do love to life coach as well. I don't have like a degree on it or like that may be a little dangerous to say, but I've had like 15 years of teaching experience.

So I guess that's something. Yeah.

Samantha: Well, the reason why I wanted to kind of get your, your take and your opinion on what motivates you, circling back to your less than ideal experience the year that you just did team. I feel like, I feel like they're intertwined and they're linked because if, if you are a person that is goal oriented and you are motivated by being able to check off the box or see the progress or, or, you know, know that you have done something at the highest level possible, a team is only as good as its weakest member.

Right. A community is only as strong as its weakest member. So depending on where you are, whether you are the higher end, the middle of the pack or the lower end of a team, you're going to have very, very different experience in that team environment. And it's, you know, a rising tide lifts all ships, but if you're the ship that's already floating, it can be very difficult sometimes to say, Okay.

How, how, how do we make it so that everything can come up? So I think a team environment

Nick: and when, and when you're a freshman in college, do you care about everyone else? No. Kidding me. Like, my, I, I was coming off of like super high placements and in the competition scene, I was training hard or like, Before I quit that senior year.

Like I was, I was still a really great dancer. They asked me to come after I got the scholarship and I was about to start school in the fall. They asked me to come in the summer to like compete in Ohio. You can kind of get a feeling for the team. And, the, the, the team, the summer team, it was kind of a joke.

Like it was, it was fun and I made good friends and some of the dancing was good. But I don't think people did it for the hardcore dancing, people did it more for like, so I can dance and have fun and go to LA and Embassy and compete in it. And like BYU competed at an Embassy, but they always win. I wonder why that is like, they actually take it seriously.

So then starting in the fall, and I was on tour team. I had such an ego, like, I'm not afraid to say, like, ask anyone. I had such an ego and. I w I wanted to continue training. I think that was the main thing. Like I came in thinking that I was not going to be the best and I was going to learn and college would propel me, but I quickly learned that I was, I'm not going to say I was the best, but I was one of the top people on the team.

And all of a sudden I was put in, I was like thrust in the position of, I now have to lead this team and like bring everyone up. And I have to like look and act a certain way. And I have to be like a team leader. It's like, I didn't sign up for that. Not, not this freshman year. I just wanted to, like, I just wanted to learn.

I just want to get inspired by other people and dance and have a good director that would push me and push everyone. And our director couldn't do that. Our team members were selfish like I was and it was a terror. Like the team was, was good. I like, we all kind of had fun, but at the end of the day, what did we didn't really, we didn't really do much.

And I think a lot of, I learned a lot that it stems from leadership at the end of the day. Like it totally stems from leadership, that I lacked that that lasted for like a solid two, two and a half years before I had a mental shift. And I was like, you know what? I need to learn something on his team.

And I was like, if I can't learn dance and technique, cause I'm still not learning that I might as well learn leadership. Like I might as well learn how to manage people. So I changed my mindset and that was really, really helpful. And then I was, I was a, I was made the captain of the team. I mean, for the, for like a fall, the third year in the fall.

And I did a really terrible job cause I thought I was ready and I wasn't. So I totally. I did a shit job. Sorry. Am I allowed to cuss? Sorry. and then, the, the spring, I was like, you know what I learned from my mistakes. Let's go. Nick's in town and I was doing it. I was like, I got, I got this. And everyone's like, dude, you just, you didn't even and care about us in the fall.

Now you do, how are we supposed to believe you? So I was like, lesson, that was another lesson. Number one is like, okay, like I understand. I'm really sorry. Like. If you put your faith in me one more time, like I please, please trust me. Trust me. And then I was finally able to get people to trust me again, and team was looking good.

And that was when I did So You Can Think You Can Dance and literally left. I left the team again and I missed the show. The spring show. They had to put me out of every number and I spent so much more time to like, to like, make the show happen. I felt so bad, so awful. Anyone on that spring team, I am sorry. I truly am sorry. I did not mean for that to happen. I didn't know that dates. Oh, man. That was so bad. It was so bad, but, but, the entire time the director was leaderless. Like we didn't really have a really solid director and leader. Who would, who would. You know, lead from the front, dance. Literally, I mean, literally do anything.

He didn't do anything. So when I started my own team, after I graduated, I was teaching at a school, AISU. I started the program literally from scratch with like four guys and like five girls, six girls. And it grew up to like 25 people. And I, I knew that like, look, if I'm going to be a director, I can't be, I can't do what, what was done to me in college.

So I was like dancing. I was working out with, with the students. I was choreographing. I was up every day and like, It really inspired people. And again, it was like, Oh, dance can be social, but it can also be this amazing passionate sport like environment. and, and I totally am a firm believer too, like right before I'm going to end the spiel.

But like when I teach private lessons, when I teach on a team, when I teach group classes, I've always, always, always believe that, like, you have to have fun. Like you have to create an environment that is fun so that learning can happen easier and faster, right? Like you ha you have to have some sort of fun, whether that fun is making jokes and goofing off and learning, and that's how they learn or whether the fun is look, I can like, we can work, workout, and treat this as like, you know, Tennis and you're, you're running around the thing and I'm going to make you do exercises or basketball and you're doing suicides, right?

It's like we can treat it like that. We can treat it as fun if you want. Like, if you need it, if you want it like a. An engineer, like, yeah, I can tell you what foot by foot, on what angle and toe heel. And like, we can get super technical and that's really great. Like as long as everyone's having fun, then the learning will, will always be easier to, easier to learn and faster to learn for sure.

Samantha: I love it. I love it. Well, you and I could talk genuinely for hours about just dance.

I know it goes by so quick. I'm going to keep you around for just a few more minutes. but we're going to go off stream because I want to, Talk a little bit more about Latin dancing specifically, but we're going to save that conversation for our patron only a video for a Patreon.

I want to think Nick so much for being a guest today on the podcast.

Nick: Woo. Thank you. Thank you. It was so much fun. I got to come back. I've got so much to talk about,

Samantha: yes, we will definitely have you back. if you want to follow uh Nick's journey, if you're interested in lessons or just learning more about him, you can find that at. NBCdance.com. Again, that link will be in the description box below.

Thank you again to Ballroom Box for partnering with us for this episode, use the affiliate code BallroomChat at checkout to save 5% and to support the podcast. I've been Samantha, I'm your host with Love Live Dance. You can find all of the podcast versions of this episode at ballroomchat.com or you can find us across social media at Ballroom Chat on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

As always stay safe, stay positive, and we hope to see you dancing very soon.