Q&A with Janet Jackson dancer Alexandra Carson
After years of sweat, hard work, and a whole lot of determination, Canberra hip-hop dancer Alexandra Carson last year booked herself a spot as one of Janet Jackson’s back-up dancers in her Unbreakable World Tour.
The 24-year-old, who grew up listening to Janet Jackson’s music, was selected as one of ten dancers from around the globe following numerous callbacks and challenging auditions.
Prior to this, Alexandra moved to New Zealand in 2013 to dance for three-time hip hop dance world champion winner The Royal Family, as well as the all-girl hip hop crew ReQuest.
Not only is Alexandra an inspiration to aspiring professional dancers and people in the creative industry alike, she is shining proof that dreams really do come true.
We spoke to her to find out about her dance journey and what it’s like to work for her idol.
When and why did you first start dancing?
I started taking dance class when I was 11. I would watch my sister practice for things like Dance Fest and Rock Eisteddfod and always wanted to be apart of it. Then movies like Save The Last Dance, You Got Served and Honey came out and it was game over.
Where did you learn to dance in Canberra?
I started at a school in Gorman House called Rapid Moves, then as I got older I moved on to Dance Central.
How did the opportunity to dance for Janet Jackson come about?
I was in New Zealand working for one of her choreographers Parris Goebel who blessed me with the opportunity to submit for Janet. From there it was a process of two trips to LA, multiple cuts and hours of non-stop dancing.
What was the audition process like?
It was intense! Auditions are always stressful and draining, let alone when you’re standing in front of Janet Jackson. As I said I had to travel twice to LA. The trip advancing through two rounds of auditions. We then waited a gruelling seven weeks to find out about the next round of auditions – by this time I had given up all hope. I then received word of the callback, jumped straight on a plane and danced my way through about another three or four cuts before booking the tour… crazy!
How happy were you when you found out you got a spot as a back-up dancer on the world tour?
There are no words to describe the happiness I felt knowing I was about to dance for a legend like Janet. To know that she had faith in my talent and wanted me to be apart of her team, that was the most rewarding moment of my life and I was definitely overwhelmed with emotion.
What is your favourite part about working with Janet Jackson?
My favourite part of working for Janet was being able to work with such an amazing team. This was my first official job as a dancer and the caliber of talent involved exceeded all expectations. We became a family and it made the hard work that much more enjoyable.
Your job involves a lot of travelling across many parts of the world. Do you ever miss home?
I mean of course you’re always going to miss home, but honestly I love travelling and whenever I miss home I just have to remind myself to live in the moment. There were many places we went to that I never would’ve even thought about visiting and often they were the places we created the best memories. So I guess to answer your question, yes I miss home. I just try not to let it affect me on the road.
Canberra obviously doesn’t have the most opportunities for people wishing to break into the creative/performing arts industry. What advice would you give to an aspiring professional dancer from Canberra?
Do your research. Follow what it is you want to do, learn from the people you want to learn from. Work hard and take the steps you see necessary to be who you want to be as an artist. There is no formula. Just be patient, consistent and I truly believe your time will come. Just trust your journey.