Dallas — The remarkably talented dancer, choreographer and fitness instructor Chris Vo returns home to Dallas to headline this year’s Dance Planet 17, April 6-7, 2013, at the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in the Arts District.
Vo is no stranger to Dance Planet, the oldest and largest free dance festival in U.S., according to the Dance Council of North Texas. “Growing up I had been an attendee of Dance Planet since my 4th grade year,” Vo says. “I remember the arts district, Annette Strauss Square, coming alive with dancers and supporters of dance.”
Dance Planet 17 offers 30 different kinds of dance and fitness classes from Circus Aerial Silks and Hip-Hop Smash to Flamenco and Folklorico taught by professionals from around the region. The event also includes a performance showcase featuring a wide range of styles presented by local dance studios and performance companies. Vo will be teaching Zumba, musical theater and modern dance as well as participating in a Q&A session over the two-day dance event.
Vo’s resume includes performing with the renowned Lar Lubovitch Dance Company and with the national tour of Twyla Tharp’s Come Fly with Me. Vo recently made the transition from concert to commercial dance landing a role on Season 2 of the NBC hit show SMASH, which premiered in February. Vo was also part of the Bruce Wood Dance Project’s extended version of My Brother’s Keeper this March at the Montgomery Arts Theater in Dallas.
TheaterJones asks Chris Vo about growing up in the Dallas dance scene, his first dance job and what he is most looking forward to at this year’s Dance Planet 17 event.
TheaterJones: How did you get involved with Dance Planet 17?
Chris Vo: Gayle Halperin reached out to me to headline it.
As the headliner of this year’s Dance Planet event what are you most looking forward to?
I’m most looking forward to sharing my passion and enthusiasm for dance. I will be teaching a wide range of classes: Zumba, musical theater and modern dance.
As a Dallas native you grew up attending Dance Planet events. What are some of your fondest memories?
I loved being a part of a greater arts community. We spend so much time in our own studios working day in and day out that we forget there is a dynamic and diverse dance community around us. I don’t use the word community lightly. Everyone was always supportive of one another. It really felt like for one weekend we were reminded of our tribal beginnings, gathering to celebrate life through dance.
How did growing up in the Dallas dance community prepare you for your professional career?
I am a proud graduate of all of the public arts schools in Dallas, including Sidney Lanier, Greiner and Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. In addition to being a true product of the Dallas Independent School District’s arts programs, I also had the pleasure and opportunity to take classes all around the Metroplex, including Dallas Ballet Center, City Ballet, Kitty Carter’s Dance Factory, Academy of Dance Arts and Diane Clough West Dance Studio, just to name a few.
Many thanks to the generous studio owners who have opened their doors to me and to my colleagues who allowed me to tagalong for a class or two. The culmination of all the previously mentioned experiences has shaped me into the artist that I am today.
How has the dance scene in Dallas changed since you left?
Well, for starters, Artist’s Square is nothing like it used to be. Who would have thought that in the 10 years that I’ve been gone Dallas would gain multiple state-of-the-art facilities in the heart of downtown! So much of what the Dallas audience gets exposed to is contingent on what TITAS brings to the city, and TITAS always brings the best of the best so that hasn’t changed. It is nice to see that Texas Ballet Theater comes to Dallas to use the Winspear Opera House. It’s a treat that the Bruce Wood Dance Project is working out of Dallas. I think there is a charge and bright energy surrounding the dance scene in Dallas.
Can you tell me about your first job as a professional dancer?
My first job as a professional dancer was through TITAS. I’m forever grateful for the incredible experience. To share the stage with the crème de la crème of the dance world at the Command Performance during my senior year of high school was beyond my wildest dreams. I performed two solos: And Some Look Back by Jessica Lang and Growth by Dwight Rhoden.
Did you find the transition from concert dance to television challenging?
Not particularly, dance is dance. But I did find that working on TV is very stop-and-start. Sometimes those production numbers that last only minutes long can take many many hours to film.
What was the audition process for the television show Smash like?
It was just like any other audition except the best dancers in the Broadway/commercial circuit were there. We learned a combo then they made a cut. Then we did the combo again with our shirts off. Ha!
What lessons have you learned about dancing for television?
I’ve learned that it requires a lot of patience to be on set. There’s an aspect of instant gratification with live theater that you don’t get with TV work. But I have to say once the finished product airs it is so exciting.
What advice do you have for young aspiring dancers in Dallas?
My advice is to follow your dreams, work hard for the results you want and to keep an open mind when it comes to shaping your career.
This Q&A was originally posted on TheaterJones.com.