In May, adidas put out a global call for dancers to show what they’ve got for the chance to win an once-in-a-lifetime trip to LA. After hundreds of entrants whittled down by public voting and final selections made by Katy Perry’s choreographer’s Nick and RJ, the winners were chosen.
adidas invited Y&Y along to share the LA experience with the winning dancers, so on 6th September I jetted to the Sunshine State to become a VIP along with global winner Kayla Janssen (hailing from Belgium) and Argentina’s local winners Belen Esposito, Tini Barceló, Magdalena Schefer and Defina Salas.
Arriving in the sun-kissed city on Thursday, we were whisked to the adidas store in Santa Monica to pick out kit for Friday’s dance session, before bonding over a 4-course pan-Asian meal. “Yesterday this time I was nursing my 10 month old, today I’m here,” Magdalena sighed in awe as we rode in our chauffeured Cadillac Escalade from Santa Monica back to our West Hollywood hotel.
On Friday we headed to Studio City, where we were greeted by internationally renowned choreographers Nick and RJ, and adidas dancers Tyne and Leah. Leah, who had just the night before performed with Rihanna at the MTV Video Music Awards, is one of Katy Perry’s tour dancers, and helped lead us through Nick and RJ’s tightly choreographed steps.
“Wait, we’re going to dance, too?!” BNTL’s Hanne Christensen and I exclaimed with nervous giggles, while staring down at our four left feet. Yet, while we clearly weren’t on the calibre of the winning girls, we still had a blast attempting to crack the choreography.
“Learning a new routine is like a race,” implored Nick, “even when it gets hard, even when it hurts, even when you want to give up, you gotta keep reaching for the finish line.” This, along with other antidotes of perseverance and determination, inspired me and reminded me of the discipline that goes into the art form.
After the real dancers perfected the routine and were filmed throwing it down, we were privileged to witness Katy Perry’s tour dancers rehearse for her upcoming shows. The group candidly answered questions about dance, breaking into the industry, and what it’s like on the road with Katy Perry.
Saturday brought us to Universal Studios, where we experienced the full VIP treatment as we toured many famous film sets. I’m far from a film buff (our film critic Amon would have loved this) but I couldn’t help geek out a little walking through scenes from Back To The Future and driving down Desperate Housewive‘s Wisteria Lane. We walked around the set of new sitcom Parenthood, walking around the faux home while trying not to touch anything – the set was hot, meaning that the programme is in production and any unplanned changes could lead to continuity flaws.
Fascinating as the sets were, it was the rides that got me excited. I probably don’t have to say it, but US theme parks kick ass compared to British ones (sorry Alton Towers and co). Based off of the studio’s most popular releases, the themed rides channelled the genre of each movie they represented. The wet and terrifying Jurassic Park ride plunged us through water and The Mummy had us speeding backwards in the dark as mummies popped out at us, while The Simpsons and Transformers used 3D technology to create scenes around us.
Just as I thought I was growing a little too accustomed to VIP living, adidas turned our diva-experience up a notch…or 10. On our final full day as a group, we left our buffet breakfast for the hotel entrance, where a stretch Hummer limo awaited us. (I’ll give you a moment to digest the image of me fist-pumping to Euro-pop in the back of a stretch Hummer.)
Our ride delivered us to Million Air Heliport at Burbank Bob Hope Airport, where we were to take a helicopter tour of the city. After early AM mimosas, we climbed into our helicopter to travel around Los Angeles from the most breathtaking view. Swooping close enough to the iconic Hollywood sign to snap a close up, passing over the major film studios, seeing Downtown LA’s skyline and even passing over Bradgelina‘s vast estate, we experienced the city’s beauty from the sky.
Hours after high-flying, we begun the evening celebrations at Jam Master Jay’s Scratch DJ Academy. Founded by the legendary Run DMC member shortly before his passing in 2002, the academy teaches scores of people how to DJ and produce music across it’s New York, Miami and LA studios.
We learned the basics in scratching onto a beat, and even split into two crews for a hilarious battle. Seeing as I was on the losing team, it’s safe to say I’m not quite ready to take my skills to the turntables in clubland. However, we soon left the DJing to the professionals, when our tutors took the decks and we turned the studio into a hip hop rave and, naturally, the dancers broke it down on the floor. The party continued onto dinner, where we spent our final night together bonding as adidas VIPs.
A call for dancers culminated in the ultimate experience; more than just the chance for talented dancers to work with professionals at the top of their trade, even more than the opportunity to taste the champagne life – adidas’ LA experience gave us all a chance to meet some brilliant people, share cultures and make friends.
Special thanks to adidas, We Are Social and Element for bringing my inner Valley-girl alter-ego Amber to life with a great experience.
Some images from Hanne Christiansen