Abbygale Chung has been dancing since she was four years old, when her mother put her in tap, jazz and ballet. She started taking her craft more seriously at age 10, when she began putting in more hours into her training. The same year also marked the first time she set foot in the dancing Mecca of Los Angeles. Now 20, she’s lived in Vancouver, and back in L.A., seeking commercial dancing opportunities. Avenue spoke with her about her start and career so far (and that time she danced with Janet Jackson).
What are your earliest dancing memories?
I remember so vividly being in the studio with Mary Anne Kuebler from Dancefusion in Sherwood Park. I remember going upstairs to her studio — I was four, and I’m a small person, so I remember the room being huge and intimidating. But I remember her, and her voice, in the studio.
When did you start dancing more seriously?
So from about 10 to 18 I trained up to 20 hours a week, just in dance, while managing a full-time school schedule. I was actually in gymnastics too, before then, but I quit. It was something that I chose to do. I switched to a more intense studio, from more recreational to competitive dancing, and started dedicating myself to my craft as much as I could, because I just wanted to go full- out and dance.
How did you end up dancing for Janet Jackson?
That was a whole other opportunity, in Edmonton when I was 15. Janet’s choreographer came to the studio and taught a master class. He showed us the routine. And then he asked a handful of us to stay back as everyone was kind of leaving, and said, “Do you want to perform with Janet tomorrow?” And so we back-up danced for her the next day in Rexall Place.
What do you remember most from that?
I remember us all putting our hands in for the cheer before the show, and even just doing that, she was so elegant and poised. And I just remember thinking, don’t screw up. And I remember being on stage and
seeing the crowd, and that’s fuelled me ever since.
What was your first trip to L.A. like?
It was very exciting… and a little bit intimidating, like the studio here, but it was heightened, because the stakes are raised and the dancers are insane. It was Millennium Dance Complex. They host rehearsals for people like Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. They have this huge wall of all of the talent that have danced there, and you could spend 30 minutes looking at them all.
How important are stylish shoes for someone doing your style of dancing?
In the urban dance industry, you just get whatever shoe works for you — some people wear boots! I like shoes that look authentic to the individual because, in an audition, if you wear a super-cool shoe, it can help you stand out and almost give you an edge. Like maybe the person watching you likes bright red, so then they might subconsciously like you!