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Celeb Scoop: Lauren Gottlieb

By It's My Life on August 11, 2010 10:37 AM | No TrackBacks

Tonight! Will it be Lauren, or Kent, or Robert? Will there be stunning performances? Will Adam accidentally swear again? Will Mia be nice, or mean? Are you wondering what the heck we're talking about?

If you've been watching Season 7 of "So You Think You Can Dance" on Fox, then we don't sound so insane (hopefully). Tonight the final 3 dancers will compete for audience votes, and tomorrow we'll get to see the season's best routines performed again before the winner is announced. It's been a great season, in our opinion, with the addition of the "all-stars" (popular contestants from past seasons)...even though we still miss Alex Wong and found it a little strange that most of the girls got voted off first. If we had to bet, we'd put money on Kent Boyd as the champ, the "is he for real?" teen from Ohio; we would say, "Oh, he's just getting votes because all the young girls are crushing on him" but he's actually a fab dancer too.

lauren1.jpgFor us, the show has never been so much a competition as just a really great place to watch dancing, dancing, dancing. That's why we were extra-thrilled for the chance to chat with Lauren Gottlieb, an "all-star" who came back from Season 3 and who's gone on to develop a blooming career as a dancer, teacher, choreographer, and actor.

IML: What's it been like to come back to SYTYCD as an "all-star"?

Lauren: It's been so much more fun this time around than it was last time, as a contestant. We know the ropes now, we know what's happening. There's the fact that we're not getting judged or voted off, which is huge. With that weight off you, you can just perform and have fun. I'm also a teacher, so when you're with your contestant and you know what they need to work on from the week before, it's really exciting to try to pull that out of them, for the judges to look at them a completely different way.

IML: What kind of advice have you been giving to the contestants?

Lauren: Each person is totally different. For instance, when I did the Tyce Diorio jazz routine with Robert, we had lots of talks during the week we were partners. We talked about how his experience is, and how he feels, and it is very similar to how I felt on my season so I felt like I really knew who he was and what he's going through. I just really wanted him to forget about the judges when he went on stage and forget about the choreographers. It's really intimidating. You have some of the best choreographers in there watching you, and then you think about the millions of people who are also watching. It's overwhelming, but if you can get to a place where you can completely forget about that and just stay in the moment and have it be just you and your partner, you'll feel something completely different and magical and let yourself go. I would just talk to him and say, "When you stand up on stage, know you're a star, and when you give that aura off, people can't help but watch you." I was so happy because I saw Robert's eyes just light up and these walls sort of break down, and he went out and had his best week.

IML: As a teacher and a dance partner, that must have been a double experience for you.

Lauren: Yes...I love it. I feel like I've been there with each of one my partners. With Adechike, he had been so emotional in all his dances and when he got hip-hop with me, it was great to be goofy. I got to pull out the fun side in him. And Jose had never done contemporary and is not really a trained dancer, and to be like that and try to be intimate onstage, that was all something completely new to him. And fun to teach him.

IML: Do you have a favorite routine that you've done, and a fave that others have done?

Lauren: This season I think my favorite was that jazz routine with Robert because I just felt like we were really dancing. It wasn't about a story, it wasn't about gimmicks or anything. It was just true jazz, and it was fun to do that. Every one of them has been so memorable, though, in their own ways. The Stacey Tookey routine that Billy and Ade did was great, because their characters were so opposite and the contrast was great to watch. That was one of my favorites.

IML: How did you first get started dancing? When did you know you wanted to pursue it professionally?

lauren2.jpgLauren: I was seven when I started dancing. My mom put me in classes because I had two brothers, and I would run around and do the tomboy thing. Play baseball and karate and all that. She put me in dance and I really, really didn't like it. It was so closed up. I had a body like a gymnast so it was hard to move in certain ways. It took a long time. Actually, during my first recital I ran into the audience and my mom went to get me. She walked me out onstage and told me I had to finish it. She said when I came offstage I was completely different, I had a different look in my eyes. It never stopped from there. I jumped right into it. That moment, I'll never forget it and I still see it. I just knew it was what I was going to do.

IML: Was dance something you had to juggle with other things in your life?

Lauren: I felt like I needed to play catch-up and that's one of the reasons why I didn't like it at first, because everyone had been dancing since they were 3. Even though you can't really learn too much from age 3 to 7, I felt really behind. So I jumped right into being in a competition group, and I remember I would stay after all my classes and rehearsals and watch all the older girls and just kind of let everything soak in. And that was a big part of my training too, just to watch and be around it and study that way.

IML: Did you feel like you had to sacrifice other things as you got older?

Lauren: I sacrificed a lot at times, like when I got to high school. All throughout high school, I was traveling and assisting this dance convention. So I'd be gone almost every weekend. I'd come back on a Monday and everyone had inside jokes that I wasn't a part of and whatnot. I just kind of learned to accept that and know what I really loved to do. When I was dancing, the feeling that I got was so much more powerful than that. I had to let go of all the other stuff. As far as cheerleading and other things like that, I wasn't too interested. I don't feel like I gave up too much, and in the end it was totally worth it.

IML: What else did it add to your life back then?

Lauren: I felt like it was an outlet to let all of my hyper-ness and goofiness out in the beginning. It brought out a lot and taught me a lot about moving your body, knowing how your body moves to music, to really connect with yourself. And I was kind of fearless. As a dancer, you're throwing your body around so much, and when you walk around with bruises and battle feel fearless. Most people growing up don't put up with that. Dancers are tough. It gives you this edge.

IML: Tell us a little bit about playing a member of rival show choir Vocal Adrenaline on "Glee." That must have been a really cool experience!

Lauren: It was really cool because we came in for the pilot. We had never seen the show before, and it was amazing to have Ryan Murphy (the show's creator) standing in front of you talking about how big this show's going to be. No ego involved, just true statement of fact. We just knew right away that the idea was brilliant, the choreography was great, and the characters were awesome. We just knew what it was going to be like. So to be on set and to work closely with all the actors and everyone, and see how generous everyone is after the take, when we're wrapped. Everyone is just friends. It was just a dream to be a part of it.

IML: Was it kind of like being in a real show choir? As a group you guys had to really come together to give off that energy.

Lauren: Totally. A couple episodes into it, we started being more and more into the Vocal Adrenaline part. We ended up having these cars with the license plates. We got our characters a little bit more and more, and then we did that great finale piece. We are like this big show choir!

IML: You've also been doing a lot of choreography. How does the process work, when you have to choreograph a certain style of dance for certain dancers?

Lauren: It's totally different for everyone, but the way I work, I get inspired by music. I think it's because I have to see the whole overall experience. When I was young, I always thought dance was just about the steps. But I'm realizing more and more how much of dance is about the moment and everything else comes into play. I kind of look at it more as a director, even the hair and the makeup and wardrobe...the right music and the right lighting. I'll start with a piece of music and kind of feel the vibe of it, and let it move me. I always want to be the instrument of the song and let it move me. That's how I work, but I know a lot of people who do steps first and then find the music.

IML: What else do you do to stay fit and healthy?

laurengottlieb_yoga.jpgLauren: I do yoga. It reminds me of some of my training when I was young. Because when you're in a dance studio and your teachers see you a few times a week, they really, really know you and watch over you. When I get into a yoga class, I feel like it's like that, plus yoga is as hard as you want to make it. It's completely up to you when you get in the zone and push yourself a lot more.

IML: We heard you're involved with an arts education foundation. What can you tell us about that?

Lauren: I'm involved with the Life Through Art Foundation, which helps hundreds of underprivileged kids per year. Kids who have the drive and the passion, but not the facilities or the right teachers. I've been doing a couple of things with them lately, teaching them and giving them dance classes. I put together this Michael Jackson medley number that we did at a charity event. I knew I wanted to make it extra fun and special for them, and to see their faces afterwards was amazing. They're so talented and it's so nice to go over there and give them something they're so worthy of.

IML: What is your advice for kids who want to get involved with dance but don't feel they have the talent?

Lauren: I've talked to a lot of people like that, and it's not necessarily that they don't feel they have the talent, but almost that it's too late for them to start dancing. So many people have the passion for it and can't stop talking about it, then they say, "I'm too old, I can't do it." You can start anywhere, and some of the most amazing people and successful dancers that I've met have actually started really late. I think it gives you a lot more of a commercial -- Mia Michaels would say "pedestrian" -- quality instead of being a trained technical dancer. I think if you want it, you take classes and let it sink in. It'll happen. Just enjoy it for what it is.

IML: If you're not clicking with a certain style, do you try to find another? How do you know what style of dance is right for you?

Lauren: You'll feel it. When I put heels on and do some ballroom, it's fun but it's not something that I feel like I would do every day. On the other hand, I love hip-hop. I love my tennis shoes, and dancing like a dude sometimes. I love that. Then you feel the soft contemporary and if you can connect to that, you'll feel it. I suggest trying every type of dance, because they're all totally different.

IML: What's next for you, after SYTYCD?

Lauren: I want to fulfill a couple of teaching arrangements that I have, maybe put together a few more. And then I'm getting a little bit more and more into acting. Hopefully I'll go further in that direction. I always say that the best dancers are the best actors. And being on the show this year has been a totally different experience than a couple of years ago. I feel like diving more and more into the characters. That's becoming the fun part of me. I'm looking forward to that!

IML: We're sure you'll continue to have a lot of interesting and exciting experiences doing that! Good luck with everything!

Lauren: Thank you!

Lauren answers advice and other questions from dancers and young people on her website,

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