Welcome to the JJGirl Spotlight, a series featuring the smart, talented, fearless young faces of Jo+Jax.
Today, meet 21-year-old Hailee Payne! You probably recognize her from her turn on So You Think You Can Dance Season 12, or as a familiar face on the L.A. dance circuit, where she’s a regular at Millennium Dance Complex. (And fun fact: The Roy, UT-native lives with fellow JJGirl Alexia Meyer!) Hailee grew up training at Infinity Dance, and now she lives in L.A. where she’s pursuing her dance dreams of going pro. “The most exciting part of my dance career has been working with Richy Jackson, who is Lady Gaga’s choreographer,” says Hailee. “He held an intimate workshop — there were only 38 people in class — and taught us original moves from Gaga’s choreography. It helped prepare us all for the professional world, and he was super honest and open with us. He gave us critiques and praise, and during our last session he held a mock audition for Gaga’s tour. He told me that he would’ve kept me for the call, and hearing that confirmation made my night. As a professional dancer, it’s hard not to doubt yourself. But having that belief and support from someone like Richy really tickled me.” Want to learn more about this rising star? Read on!
Favorite dance style: Jazz
Favorite teacher: “Ray Leeper. I love that he continues to keep genuine, classic jazz alive. As a kid, I always looked forward to his classes — I definitely still remember some moves from back in the day!”
Dance idols: “I live by the phrase ‘inspire to be inspired,’ and I look up to so many dancers and choreographers because everyone has something to offer. Living in L.A., where everyone is so talented and dedicated, it’s hard not to be intimidated. Instead of letting it get to me, though, I’m even more motivated. One of my biggest inspirations is my dance teacher, Mandy Shaw. She is such an incredible woman who tackles life with a smile and a quote.
Dream role: “Dancing backup for Lady Gaga. She’s so honest and open with her work.”
Favorite ice cream flavor: “I love ice cream, but my new obsession is Yogurtland! My favorite flavor is the salted caramel and the coconut. Add your own toppings and it’s heaven.”
If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? “Cereal! Give me a bowl, some milk, and Honey Nut Cheerios, and I’m happy.”
Favorite book: The Harry Potter series
If you could perform a duet with anyone, who would it be? “My roomie and fellow JJGirl Alexia Meyer. We always wished for a duet when we were on So You Think You Can Dance, but were never given the opportunity. If we had the chance, I think that we would choreograph it. Our styles are very similar, and I think it would just be great vibes.”
Hey everyone I'm excited to announce that I have joined forces with @joandjax and am a JJgirl! What an honor! To me, a JJgirl is someone who isn't afraid to be themselves! They spread positivity and create an atmosphere that everyone can be apart of. CONGRATS to @raeganmcneal on being chosen as the winner of this contest! Go spend those dollars! Be on the lookout for more contests with @joandjax! Love and light! #makeitnasty #letitgo #jjgirl
What’s the weirdest thing in your dance bag? “My stash of instant oatmeal for when I travel on the weekends. When you’re assisting and teaching, you don’t have a lot of time to eat, so you eat when you can, and oatmeal is easy.”
Favorite way to hit the stage: “I love performing group routines. It’s a time where you get to work together as a team or as a company and feed off each others’ energy. My favorite thing about group routines is the eye contact you get to make with your fellow company members.”
Favorite Jo+Jax: “Everything! All the clothing is a dancer’s dream. I still have a pair of Jo+Jax shorts that I bought when I was a freshman, and they look like new.”
I can't believe it's almost Thanksgiving! In the spirit of things @joandjax and I are hosting a contest. CONGRATS to @anna.grace.anderson and her friend @averydriver for sharing the love and winning! I have many things to be thankful for but to keep it short I am thankful for happiness. Just happy to be alive, doing what I am doing, and having amazing friends and family surrounding me. #warriortop #warriorleggings #JJgirl #joandjax #jjgetthankful
Meet the rest of the JJGirls!