This week’s feature is about one of our own, Boutique Staff Member, Kyla Hanshew. When she’s not helping you make the best Spotlight fashion choices, she’s busy entertaining international crowds on the seas with her talents! Kyla is a dancer from Kansas City, Missouri where she trained at Heart of America Dance Centre. She currently lives in Los Angeles and trained with Shannon Mather at Mather Dance Company before signing with bi-coastal dance agency, MSA, in 2016. Since then, she has worked internationally for brands such as Fila and Ralph Lauren. Kyla just finished a cruise contract with Royal Caribbean International, traveling throughout Japan and China. She is trained in all styles of dance, but excels in jazz, contemporary, and jazz funk. Kyla not only competed on the Spotlight stage and a valued employee, she used to be a Shine On Ambassador! Be sure to check out this year’s Shine On Ambassadors! They have lots of awesome advice and behind the scenes to share! Let’s hear what she has to share in 2019!
What year was your last competing with Spotlight?
My last season competing was 2016!
Tell us about your favorite Spotlight or competition memory:
The first time my studio EVER competed at a national event, it was Spotlight. We took 2 routines to Branson that year and I will always remember how special it was and the memories I made with my friends. Now, 10 years later, my studio competes hundreds of routines at national events every year and I’m so proud! I’ll always remember that very first Spotlight nationals that set the precedent for the years to come.
What was the best lesson you’ve learned from competing that you’ve used in your professional life?
My punctuality and my preparedness. When you’re competing, it’s super important to arrive early in case the event is running ahead! The same goes with auditions and rehearsals. The location of an audition can change in a matter of minutes and if you don’t allow yourself enough time to navigate that, you’ll be stressed and may miss it! Being on time for rehearsals shows professionalism and reliability, which go a long way in the industry. As a competitive dancer, I learned that it’s important to anticipate anything and to roll with the punches. Pack all of your shoes, a backup of EVERYTHING, and snacks (most importantly). This mindset comes in so handy for long days on set or in rehearsals. I always have all the snacks!!
Share some advice for young aspiring professional dancers currently competing:
Connect, connect, connect. Talk to everyone! Your fellow dancers who may also want to pursue a career in dance, your instructors who are working professionals, judges and staff at competitions…everyone you meet can be an asset to your future career. They can provide valuable guidance and insight into the professional world. You truly never know who you’ll cross paths with in the industry, so it’s important that you create connections and learn to network with everyone.
What’s most honest feedback you can share after completing your first professional gig? Any lessons learned?
My most honest advice is to constantly remind yourself how lucky you are to do what you love. It’s easy to get caught up in the struggles and drama of a job which is normal, it IS your job at the end of the day and that tends to come with the territory. But that’s just it- your JOB is to do what you love every day. Practice gratitude in those moments of frustration. I tend to think back to the kid I used to be who dreamed of opportunities like these. Show up, work hard, and never forget how fortunate you are.
How does it feel gaining a full circle perspective with Spotlight? Competitor, Ambassador, and now Employee?
It’s been the most eye opening experience. Everything has come full circle! I understand the competition world so much more intensely because of the different roles I’ve played throughout the years. As an employee, I love that I can relate to our dancers and talk to them at the events as if they were my friends! When I was competing, I don’t think I fully understood what it takes to put on an event like Spotlight. I have so much appreciation for how hard everyone works to give the dancers a great event and I know that the dancers recognize a great competition when they see one! I’m so proud to work for a company I’ve always admired and looked forward to growing up.
Give Kyla a follow on Instagram @kylahanshew and be sure to find her in the Boutique to take a selfie!