Below is my initial “About Me” section. My friends and family had mixed reviews, because IT’S LONG! Some thought it should be shorter–highlights only–while others appreciated the candor. I honestly believe both sides are correct in their assessments. I just feel it’s incredibly necessary to mention both the highs and lows of “My Journey.” I’m keeping this page as a tab on my site and not just a blog post, because I really want people to understand it wasn’t always trips to Italy and national commercials.
On May 17th, 2008, I graduated from Chapman University as a double major in Dance and PR/Advertising. That summer, Katee Shean became America’s Favorite Dancer on So You Think You Can Dance and asked me if she could use some of my choreography for one of her solos on the show. I was thrilled! The next month, I moved to North Hollywood and danced for Kanye West and Ok Go! in Nike’s Human Race Campaign choreographed by British Choreographer Kevan Allen. A few months later, I had danced for Lady Gaga, booked my first international internet campaign for Aczone, and began dancing alongside Victoria Justice in Nickelodeon’s #1 show “Victorious.” Things were off to a pretty great start!
A staple and huge accomplishment in my career has been working for Brian Friedman. I first met him in 2003, because I was selected by Co.Dance Convention to be an assistant. I will never forget my first time assisting him! Brian could only teach for one day, because he had to fly to New York to dance on SNL for Janet Jackson. I couldn’t believe I was on stage assisting him! Roughly 6 years later, while assisting Andre Fuentes (Britney Spears’ Choreographer) on various projects, I found myself auditioning for Brian to work on America’s Got Talent. It’s funny how things come full circle.
Auditions for America’s Got Talent were infamous! Practically every dancer in LA attends the audition, so they last all day. Multiple combinations are taught and one mistake could honestly cost you the job. I didn’t have any real expectations for the audition, so the fact that I had been kept all day was already a win in my book. A week later, I found out I booked the job dancing with Lauren Gotlieb, Gina Starbuck, Johnny Rice, Derrell Bullock, Devin Walker, and so many other talented dancers. During the AGT episode, Brian was having auditions for Macy’s Passport. We were all talking about it during the AGT rehearsals, but again, I didn’t really have any expectations. Out of 400 dancers that auditioned, Brian hired 10: Taja Riley, Tucker Barkley, Gus Carr, Lauren Gotlieb, Laurel Thomson, Anthony Garza, Whyley Yoshimura, Kelly LaFarga, Justin Boulet, and ME!!! I was stoked!
Till this very day, those jobs with Brian were probably some of the most demanding I have ever done. They are also hugely responsible for shaping me into the dancer and person that I am now. Even the choreographers on the job stood taller when Brian walked into the room! Not too many choreographers can walk into a room unaware of the choreography, look at it a few times, absorb it, and COUNT IT! You’d be surprised how many people in LA can’t count music. He expects excellence, because there’s a lot of money on the line and not a lot of time to deliver a product. Working with that cast was an honor.
While working on Macy’s Passport, I received a phone call from my agent that I had booked a job from an audition months before. I was going to Tokyo to dance for Japanese superstar Domoto Koichi! This was my first international job, and it was quite the experience. In the middle of a show, I broke my 5th metatarsal while exiting the stage. At the time, I thought it was a sprain or that I merely rolled my foot. Dancers are used to things poppping all of the time, so I took aspirin, iced my foot, and finished the show thinking, “The show must go on!” Well, the show did go on..and without me! The next day, I saw 2 doctors in Tokyo. They both instructed me to have surgery because of the location of my fracture, and how quickly I needed to recover. I spent 4 days in a Tokyo hospital and 6 weeks recovering in Japan before returning to Los Angeles. And in August of 2010, I needed to have another surgery to remove the screw put in my foot in Tokyo. This picture is of me taking the subway in Tokyo. That boot cost $1000!!!
Many dancers get injured and never recover. Thanks to God, the support of my family, friends, my Japanese Translator Masako Tomita, Toho Productions, students, my agents, and Physical Therapist Dawn Marie-Ickes, I was determined to come back stronger and better than ever. Shortly after recovering, I choreographed a commercial for Debbie Allen’s show “Twist,” and choreographed/danced in a commercial for the off Broadway show “Sammy and Me.” Two days later, I was on a plane returning to Tokyo to dance for Koichi. This trip was a success for several reasons! The first reason, I didn’t get injured! And second, it was during this trip that Tokyo Broadway Dance Center asked me to teach! This was my first international teaching job and only the beginning. In 2010, I was invited to teach in Tokyo, Poland, and Prague! In between international trips, Lane Napper had booked me as a regular dancer on “Victorious.”
The following year, I returned to Tokyo to dance for Koichi. Unfortunately, this trip was not going to be as successful as the last. On March 11, 2011 the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck Tokyo in the middle of a show. Had the earthquake happened just minutes later, I would have been in an elevator with the other 3 dancers headed to the stage. We were very fortunate not to have sustained any physical injuries, but mentally we were all affected. The rest of the shows were cancelled, and we returned to America a week later. 2 weeks after returning to Los Angeles, I went back to Tokyo.
I was fully aware of the media’s message and the public’s perception of what happened in Tokyo. I just disagreed with most of it. After all, I was there during that act of God and the majority of the world was not. All I knew is that I felt safe, and my friend, JoJo Diggs, did as well. She was in Tokyo teaching and choreographing for some of Japan’s biggest Pop Artists during the earthquake and chose to stay in Tokyo after the earthquake. Knowing that she felt safe in Tokyo definitely helped me decide whether to return to Tokyo or stay in Los Angeles.
I grew up a great deal over those past 2 years. Yes, because I was out of the country and immersed in different cultures but also because, I had a lot of craziness around me. Throughout most of 2010, my finances were a disaster. I had great medical coverage while recovering from my injury, but physical therapy and check ups were still not cheap! Had I been working consistently, I would have been fine. But due to my injury, I was forced to stop auditioning and decline jobs for nearly 6 months. It was hell! Luckily, at the end of 2010, I received news that I had won my worker’s compensation case and life went back to being great… at least until the earthquake hit. And though I wasn’t hurting for money by any means after the earthquake, I knew I never wanted to struggle like I did in 2010. It was not an option. So what did I do? I saved 10% of everything I made, started investing,and drastically cut back. I needed to “work smart, not hard” and stop living to impress others.
As I embraced my new attitude in 2011, jobs kept coming my way. I ended up traveling for most of that year, which greatly increased my international following. I went to Tokyo 4 times, to Poland, and finally to Italy to work with Zeus Hip Hop. In between international jobs, I worked with Nappytabbs in Jennifer Lopez’s music video “Papi,” danced in a commercial for Fiat with Jennifer Lopez, began subbing at Debbie Reynold’s, worked with Chapkis Dance in the bay area, and continued working with South County Dance. At the end of the year, I booked a promo commercial and interactive video for Zooey Deschanel’s hit show “New Girl” beating out one hundred dancers. I even body doubled for “Winston!”
2012 was nothing short of amazing. The commercial and interactive video for “New Girl” premiered at the end of January right before I went back to Tokyo. About a month after returning to Los Angeles, I booked a commercial for Little Caesars as the Assistant Choreographer and as a dancer. Working on this job was a great experience for me, because I submitted dancers to agents and the casting director for hiring. I had never worked behind the scenes in this capacity, and I strongly suggest entertainers invest in QUALITY HEAD SHOTS!!!! So many great dancers were not considered, because their pictures were underwhelming. Bottom line, don’t cut corners with your pictures.
The very next week, I booked a promo commercial for So You Think You Can Dance choreographed by Sophie Olson. Just a few months earlier, I worked with Sophie on “New Girl,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean I was guaranteed to work with her on every job she did. Just like everyone else, I had to audition. The audition started at 9am and the final call backs were over around 4PM. This audition lasted all day, because we had to do audition in several styles. We were expected to Tap, do Ballet, Hip Hop, and Ballroom. Ultimately, 6 dancers were hired for this commercial. And in May of 2012, I had two national commercials airing at the same time!! Very few entertainers have been able to achieve this accomplishment.
It was around this time that Kevin Andrews approached me to work on a new business venture. Kevin asked me to be the face of a dance app. I was honored, excited about taking my career on a different path, and slightly nervous, because I had to invest my own money. After about 2 days of negotiating, I enlisted the help of Stacy Hagen, owner of South County Dance. She has owned and operated several successful businesses in addition to the studio, so I knew she was someone I wanted around me–especially if I was going to invest my own money! Nearly 5 months later, on October 15, 2012, Kevin Andrews, Stacy Hagen, and I released The Dance App! The Dance App is a portable dance studio, and anyone with an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and/or a computer with access to the world wide web can learn dance choreography, stretching/strengthening tips, turning tips, Pilates, and Ballet Technique from some of today’s best talent. Since launching that app, we have released 10 apps and sold 100,000 units world wide! For more information on our products, visit www.danceappsinc.com or search “Jerome Alexander” in The Apple Store!
I feel like most people in LA are always juggling several different jobs and that was definitely the case with me! While I was working on The Dance App, Katee Shean and I were preparing to choreograph the feature film “Stepping High” starring dancers Kent Boyd, Ryan Ramirez, Darrion Gallegos, Brandon Beltran, Lindsay Warner, Donte Essien, Paulina Pulido, and Jordan Sessions. The movie is tentatively scheduled to be released at the end of 2013. In addition to working on the movie, I danced in a new TV Pilot “The Sketch Show,” danced in a short film for choreographer Adam Parsons, taught for studios all across the United States, and traveled to Tokyo, Italy, and had my first workshop in Germany!
I honestly have not taken any of this for granted. The highs are just as important to me as the lows. During every job, I usually have an “Is this really my life” moment. And although I had always known I wanted to dance professionally, I will confess that I did not know what it entailed. I’m extremely fortunate and blessed to have been given the opportunity to find out what being a professional dancer truly means.