Almost every dancer has dreamed of dancing for a music artist or group at one time or another. Who wouldn’t want to groove and perform to your favorite song on stage? JJGirl Hailee Payne landed the job of a lifetime…dancing with the Backstreet Boys! Check out what Hailee told us about her journey:
“As a kid I loved watching music videos. I would try to imitate every move as if I was the artist. Some of my favorites were Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, N*SYNC, and The Backstreet Boys. It would be a dream for any dancer to be able to perform with such icons, so when I received an email from my agent saying that The Backstreet Boys were holding auditions for their Las Vegas residency, Larger Than Life, I knew I had to be there no matter what!
On the day of the audition I was amped and ready to go. I had been watching old music videos and listening to the BSB’s music since I had heard about the audition. It was a quick trip down memory lane for me. I could not wait to see what we would be learning. I got to Debbie Reynold’s at 11:00AM, signed in, and got right to it. Chuck Maldonado was the choreographer for the audition. He did the first step and I knew instantly we were learning “Backstreet’s Back”! We were learning the iconic dance steps from the music video I had watched since I was a kid! It had a couple of new twists in there but I was over the moon. Once we had learned all the choreo it was time to audition. I received a callback for the next day! Yay!
The same drill happened the next day. We arrived at 11:00AM and went straight into new choreo. I knew I was in for a long day. The producers, choreographer, and assistants made cut after cut and the number of dancers dwindled from about 300 to 50. Then it was time to put us on camera and revisit the choreo we learned the previous day. On top of all that, AJ Mclean, one of the members of BSB walked in to help decide. Talk about a brain overload. I just had to keep reminding myself to stay calm and above all enjoy the experience. We danced and danced and danced, group after group, mixing and matching people. I felt stronger with each run and was soaking it all in. Everyone there was so amazing. I had no idea who they were going to pick. Finally at 4:00PM the audition was over. The producers said that we would know that night who would be doing the job since rehearsal started the next day. I did not know if I would book the job but I walked away from the audition knowing I gave it my 120% and had a blast so when my phone rang later that night and the caller ID read, Movement Talent Agency, I could not even wrap my brain around it. Was this actually happening? My agent had to keep saying, “No really Hailee! You booked the job! You are going to be dancing with The Backstreet Boys!” I was humbled. My dream since I was young was to dance for an artist, but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be for one of my childhood inspirations, The Backstreet Boys.
We are in our second leg of the residency, and I am still in awe. Working with an artist, or in our case artists, is an honor. It is an incredible experience being able to share and create with someone of that caliber. Not to mention the BSB are probably the hardest working and most humble team out there. They have still go it going on! They respect one another and respect our whole crew from dancers, wardrobe, sound, audience, and everyone who has a hand in the show. I look forward to each performance with my new family. It truly brings me pure happiness every time I get to step on that stage and dance my heart out with some incredible human beings.
Hailee’s advice to you:
If your dream is to dance for an artist, be studious. You need to know their music, what their vibe is, how they move, and most importantly how their dancers look and move. It’s like showing up to a Beyonce audition in sweats and a baggy shirt when you know that she is very feminine and loves a good leo. The best kind of dancer is a smart dancer. Also be persistent in your training. Continue to take class and be as well rounded as you possibly can. On my breaks from BSB shows, I come back to LA and get back in class to keep my body and brain sharp. Remain positive. This goes for any audition. Everyone has something unique and special that they can bring to the table but at times, it is not even about dance moves. It is about having a certain look so don’t become melodramatic and think you can’t do something because you can. It will happen and know that everything happens for a reason. Easier said than done, I know, but if you want something and give your entire heart and soul into it, you can make it happen!”