Most people know that I once considered myself a professional dancer. I performed on stages and in private venues, choreographed, owned a studio and even started a dance company and summer program.
People who know the "L.A. Jasmine" know me as a fitness trainer and not much else. Which, is insane because I originally moved to Los Angeles to pursue my dance career. "L.A. Jasmine" hasn't actually danced in years. I gave power to a few negative experiences and I walked away from that dream, so here we are.
Although I think it's very important to live in the present, I often find myself replaying the last few years over in my head because I also think it's important to learn from the past. I know I identify as a trainer and group fitness instructor now, but the journey to get to this point is almost magical. What I find interesting about my journey, and keep in mind I do not believe in coincidence, is the amount of work the universe did to get me to where I am.
I ended up in the fitness field because of dance. I never once considered teaching in a gym setting until a Crossfit Gym near my home was hiring Hip Hop and Barre Instructors. It seemed right up my alley so I went and auditioned, just to make extra money. This job lead to several other small gym and boutique studio jobs, which lead to Equinox.
Side note: Moving from gym to gym taught me not to be afraid to move on for the sake of growth and happiness because there will always be a better situation for you beyond the horizon.
Equinox, where I was teaching Barre and "Hip Hop" at the time, lead me to meet this ray of sunshine, Geummy, who attended my dance class each week. Geummy thought my class was so amazing and empowering that she even brought guests to the gym to experience it. About two months after I had started teaching my dance class, it was cancelled and I was given an earlier time slot. Geummy had also stopped coming to that gym so I would only see her on Social Media.
It must have been a little less than a year before Geummy reached out to me, asking that I be a part of a passion project she was organizing. Of course I said yes, not only because I've made it my duty to experience as much as possible, but also because I simply miss dance. Eventually I was asked to choreograph for the project as well and, although I wasn't and still am not too fond of the song, I welcomed the challenge with open arms.
We rehearsed together over the course of two months (on and off as coordinating a rehearsal schedule with seven people was very challenging). We rehearsed wherever we could and although I ended up having to drive all over the most spread-out city in the world, I enjoyed my time with those six dancers. It was actually everything that I needed at the exact time that I needed it.
During one of our rehearsals we discussed costumes. The investment for lyrical skirts would've been quite pricey, so I volunteered my talent as a designer and seamstress and banged out six mesh skirts for the day of filming. Yes that's right. If you're keeping track, you know that I am now a triple threat on this project: dancer, choreographer, and seamstress.
The day of filming was crazy. There were too many emotions running through my body for me to even name them. I woke up that morning, completed all my Monday morning tasks and then ordered an Uber to our prep location, I didn't want anything to do with my car that day.
I got to our prep location, where I met the rest of the crew. One of the makeup artists had requested me so I sat in her chair. Her name is Fehi'a. Everything in my blood told me she chose me because I was the only black girl in the cast, and she confirmed it once she had me in her chair. It was nice to have someone who felt so passionately about accommodating the brown girls. She beat my face with golds and bronzes and sent me on my way.
We also had wardrobe! A beautiful wardrobe stylist by the name of Francesca held us down throughout the day with our wardrobe, fastening belts, tying and re-tying tops, adding accessories. She was fabulous.
Throughout the day, we traveled between three filming locations. Two of the locations belonged to FD Photo Studios and the other was a private helicopter pad, all located in downtown Los Angeles. Both studios were HOT. Yes, hot as in fly, but also literally hot. A HOT BOX. AN INFERNO. I sweated more during our stop-and-go shooting than I have in any fitness class. Thankfully, we had makeup artists on set to retouch.
Overall the entire day was a dream. It was a day filled with dance and amazing personalities. Nothing went wrong. Well...
My lunch was eaten by another dancer. I am embarrassed by how I reacted when I realized my food was missing. I may have seemed upset with the dancer who ate my food, but I wasn't. I was upset because I think I welcomed the missing lunch into my life by focusing on the "what if".
-my order is wrong?
-the restaurant forgets to add it to the group order?
-someone else eats my food while I'm stuck down here getting my make up done?
I knew I was wrong for allowing those thoughts to cross my mind, but I did, and in return I had to run downstairs and order Qdoba. The Qdoba was bomb though, so I'm not even mad at it. It was also nice to have a laugh with First Assistant Director, A.S. Nishino, before returning to set. Our chat really cheered me up and helped me get back in the right mindset.
Besides the food mishap, everything else was smooth. I was grateful to be there and I realized that I could see myself doing more things like this in the future. This project was heaven sent. It helped to spark more creativity, more passion, more joy. I want to move forward, creating quality content on a scale as large as this one. I have so many ideas and pent-up energy/creativity that needs to be unleashed. This passion project was definitely a start.
I'm grateful to Geummy Lee and Angela Paviera of Weosh Agency and WeGolden Productions for asking me to choreograph and perform; Melfred Ignacio for his excellent choreography and collaborating with me to get my life together on my own choreo; Fehi'a Tangitau for beating my face and maintaining my fleek throughout the day; and dancers, Skyler, Jazze, Gina, and Natalie for executing my choreography and bringing that ish to life!
Special shoutout goes to our Director of Photography, Frankie Miraz. You may not know it, but your words at the beginning of the day helped me set my intentions for filming. I had been a big ball of nerves all morning, and although you may not remember, you spoke very highly of me and my talent, reassuring me there was no need to be nervous. That quick conversation reminded me to breathe, so I did.
The rest of the crew (listed below) made the entire experience delightful and uplifting and I'm so grateful to have met and worked with all of you!
My time in LA will soon come to an end and I feel like the luckiest chick in the world to have gained new colleagues, homies, and experiences. I'm soooooo pumped to see the finished product!
Geummy Lee, Creative Director & Executive Producer
Angela Paviera, Director & Producer
A.S. Nishino, 1st AD
Frankie Miraz, DP
Terrance Yoon, AC
Joe Gunawan, Gaffer
Melfred Ignacio, Choreographer
Jasmine Danielle, Choreographer
Fehi'a Tangitau, MUA
Francesca Esker, Wardrobe
Hana Mison, Hairstylist
Karen Vargas, P.A. #1
Emiliegh Pea, P.A. #2
Judit Argueta, P.A. #3
Chad Lopez, BTS Photo & Video