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Meet Crystal A. Burton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Crystal A. Burton.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Crystal. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Well, I started dancing when I was four years old in Inglewood, CA at Dynamic Dance Factory. I trained in tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, lyrical, contemporary, and many other genres. Here’s a quick funny story. Tap was my favorite, (still is) and I was in the advanced tap class dancing with all of the older and taller girls. You could always point me out on stage no matter where I was because I was the smallest one, a foot shorter than everybody else, just looking like a shrimp amongst the big fish!

And because I was so small, they didn’t have “real” tap shoes in my size, so my mom would have to put about 4-5 pairs of socks on my feet to wear under my tights, just so my shoes would “fit”! Sometimes she filled the toe part with nose tissue!! Regardless of my small stature, I still went out there and gave it my all! It was then that my love for dance was born, and I was blessed to discover my passion and love at a very young age. From there, I moved to another studio at the age of ten, En Step Performing Arts Nation (Art In Motion – AIM). By this time all of my dance shoes fit, but it was here where I received confirmation of that which I had previously learned; my gift is God-given and it is bigger than me.

Through AIM, I learned more than just dance. I learned about life, love, relationships, and the real world. Growing and learning from two phenomenal women who incorporated life lessons into my dance training, was the best thing that a young girl like me could have asked for. With the knowledge I received from them, I headed off to college, unsure of what I wanted to major in. What I learned at a college tour suddenly came back to the front of my mind. One of the speakers had said, “If you don’t know what to major in, major in your passion”, and then, there I was, attending the University of California, Irvine, as a dance major with a minor in Education.

It wasn’t easy being a dance major, let alone being the only black girl in most, if not all of my classes. I never really felt like I belonged until my junior year when two of the Black graduate students, “saw” me, took me under their wings, and helped mold me into the dancer/woman that I am today. They made my last years as a dance major beyond worthwhile. Before I graduated from UCI with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance, I was signed to one of the best agencies in Los Angeles, Go 2 Talent Agency.

From there I’ve just been taking thing as they’ve come. I danced on a cruise ship and traveled to 19 countries and five states in less than two years. I have danced for the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, been a dancer in some pretty dope music videos, met some amazing people, danced on television, taught hundreds of kids, and have inspired young dancers. But, I know God has so much more for me in store for me to experience in this thing called life.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There’s a saying I came across a while ago stating, “If it’s easy, I don’t want it”, and I whole-heartedly agree with this statement. You don’t grow and learn as much from your experiences if everything is “easy”. Whether the “hard” part is in your control or not, I’d actually prefer to not have it ALL be easy. Some of the “struggles” that I endured as a professional dancer are dealing with the harshness of this industry, the lack of empathy, being deemed “not good enough”, discriminated against because of my skin color/physical appearance/health condition, not getting paid what I’m worth, and honestly, the list goes on.

A lot of times people think being a professional dancer is easy and that you just dance and make money, but that’s not the case. It’s a hustle, it’s a grind, it’s a lifestyle, and if you don’t have the right mindset and thick skin, you won’t make it. I’m sure my fellow dancers would agree. There is one personal struggle in particular that I deal with, and it has taught me this; every time you dance, dance like it’s your last time ever! You never know when your passion can be taken away from you, whether it’s just for a season or a lifetime. Leave it ALL on the dance floor. Every. Single. Damn. Time!

In regard to that particular lesson, I can share this one story from my college days. I was full of joy counting down the months, weeks, and days, until graduation, when I found a lump in my breast. I was 21 at the time and to be told at such a young age that there could be a chance you have breast cancer was beyond daunting. Indeed, it was absolutely frightening. I took the necessary steps, made an appointment to get a mammogram, and had a biopsy. By the grace of God, the results all came back negative for any signs of cancer, but I still did have a tumor.

Three months before graduation, I had surgery to remove the tumor, and it took about two months to fully recover and be cleared to dance at a high level again. I was elated because now I was back in action, or so I thought. Shortly after getting back into the groove of things, I suffered not one but two concussions!! I couldn’t dance AGAIN!! I had missed so much school, and suddenly found myself on the verge of failing multiple classes, and not be able to graduate on time. And yet, I know a GOD who heals and takes care of you!! In spite of those painful, unexpected setbacks, I finished school on time and graduated with a 3.4 GPA. That year was extremely difficult, but it was a year that has changed my life completely!

Overall, it’s never easy dealing with the negatives of life regardless of what career path you choose but I always say, “There’s a positive in every situation no matter how negative the situation maybe”. You just have to focus on what you can learn from your experiences and the lessons that come from them all.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
I am a professional dancer who loves to inspire others through the gift God blessed me with. I’ve been trained in everything under the sun and if I haven’t experienced it yet, I’m open to do so because I love being a well-rounded dancer. I have my mom to thank for that because she always said that you never want anybody to be able to tell you, well sorry, you aren’t able to do a particular dance style.

As cliché as to sounds, my nickname growing up was “Happyfeet”!! As a dancer who still has a lot to check off of my bucket list, I think what I am most proud of is pushing through the difficult obstacles that came my way and inspiring the youth. Maya Angelou said that people will never forget how you made them feel, and if I’m able to inspire others with my blessing, as well as simply being me, I’ve fulfilled my purpose. I have my own quote that I live by; “Love, Inspire, Dream, Dance!”  Love what you do so much that it inspires others to chase their dreams and at the end of they day, just dance!

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I’m all about speaking things into existence! From my mouth to God’s ears! So to answer that question in the most humble way, in the future I will go on tour and dance and travel to places I’ve never been. I will dance for Beyonce’. I will dance on Broadway again, and be in “The Lion King”. I will dance for award shows and dance in movies, just to name a few.

There’s a lot more I want to accomplish in my career but as for now, I’m enjoying the blessing of being able to navigate through it all. I will get a lot of “no’”, but will also get the right amount of “yes” when the time is right. I know that what is meant for me, will not pass me by, and I know that my steps are ordered by God. So when He says it’s my time to shine big and bright like a diamond, I will most definitely do just that! I mean hey, my name is Crystal right?

Contact Info:

  • Email: For bookings: crystalaburton@yahoo.com
  • Instagram: crysbdancin


Image Credit:

Tremaine Bean, Matthew Cooper, Jamal Josef, Joshara Edwards

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