Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael DellaVella.
Michael, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started dancing at the age of 13. Always found it interesting but didn’t gain a passion for it until after I saw the movie, “You Got Served.” The inspiration came part from the actual dancing aspect of the movie, but more of the “Oh, Megan Good thinks guys that dance are sexy…I can do that” aspect of it. At the time, my younger sister was already on a dance crew and in daily classes at a local studio (CPAC) and had been trying to convince me to come with for a while. Needless to say, the movie finally persuaded me.
Joined the crew “7.24” that was created and choreographed by Jason “Blu” Griffith. Took a free hip hop class from him and joined that same day. Blu had already danced for many of my favorite artists which inspired me to learn from him and being able to witness him grow in his career to K-Swiss commercials and Cirque, he always continued to inspire and push me from age of 13 to 20.
With my college graduation approaching, my plans were to move in with him and start my career in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, a major situation in Blu’s life in Vegas put that plan to a halt. Realizing I had a decision to make… continue the plan in Vegas without him or try the dancer life in LA. Being a major believer in “everything happens for a reason,” I took that as a sign to stay out of Vegas. So to LA, I went, at the age of 21.
Moving to LA, my only plan was to get into classes, train, and just see what happens. Two years go by and although I was given a few opportunities and made some great connections and life-long friends…I didn’t really feel my career was propelling the way it should. Realized I had a lack of clarity in my vision and goals.
I was given the opportunity to sub my very first class in LA at an industry studio called “IDA Hollywood.” This is the studio they use to rehearse for So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With The Stars, so you could imagine I was pretty HYPE but very nervous. I had four people come to my class… three were free guests of mine (friends) and 1 International dancer who paid for the hip hop class not knowing me or what my style even was. Shockingly enough, I had the greatest time, regardless of the numbers that showed or who supported.
Coming to the realization that I love teaching, I dropped all backup dancer type of everyday life and focused 100% on what would help me get to that destination. So for one year, I went to 0 auditions and focused only on my creative. Creating video content, submitting to studios, collaborating with friends (JoJo Gomez, Amountboy Kanec, Fresh Redding, Taiwan Williams & Jun Quemado) who were already teaching in LA to train my teacher skills and being sure that I always stayed ready as an instructor so that I would never have to get ready when the opportunity came, again.
At the age of 24, after all the collab classes have been taught, I was given another opportunity to sub my own class at the infamous Millennium Dance Complex. To be honest, I was expecting a similar situation as my IDA class. Even though I’ve been growing as a teacher, I still didn’t have a name and was still getting my work out best I could. Walking into a packed out class thinking I was in the wrong room…I was not. The lady at the front desk pulled me aside and said “Mikey, I just wanted to let you know…your class is sold out…congratulations.” I couldn’t believe it. I was humbled, excited, 100x more nervous but 1,000x more determined to be my best self I could be in the situation.
I’ve had my foot on the gas as a teacher ever since. And between the ages of 24-28, I have had the opportunity to teach at every mainstream studio in the LA area, over 25 cities across the US and internationally in China, India, Canada, Russia, and Puerto Rico. I have been truly blessed to work with the studios that I have, and am still very far from the end in my career as an instructor. My trip to Russia inadvertently set up a relationship that gave me my biggest opportunity as a dancer, yet.
Project 818, in Moscow, Russia was my first international teaching job. On that job, I was introduced to another teacher from the Bay Area, Melvin TimTim. Melvin and I had been a fan of each other for couple years without ever knowing or even meeting in the past. Our friendship continued to grow when we got back to the states. He was then given the opportunity to put a team together to audition for season 2 of NBC’s World of Dance. When putting this cast together, I was honored to be thought of and put all my teaching jobs aside for this opportunity of a lifetime. This team is known as “S Rank.” S Rank not only made the show…but took 1st place as Adult Team Champions and went to the finale. We lost that finale, but the experience shaped me in so many ways and I am forever grateful for it.
Now, I am moving forward with my creative side of the industry (choreographer). Although, I’m still very new in that sense I have already been given the incredible opportunity to create for Britney Spears, T-Pain, Ester Dean and Kpop group Ateez. As I continue to teach as a passion to feed my soul, I’m ready to keep the pedal to the metal in this industry to broaden to horizons day in and day out.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Nothing worth having will ever have a smooth road. You have to lose a lot in order for the wins to be justified. Every dancer has many of the same struggles. Broke, little help, too new for big jobs and the little jobs don’t pay enough, LA being top 3 most expensive places in the country to live, forcing yourself to share rooms with strangers because its the only way to afford being there.
I moved to LA with $400 in my pocket, a friends couch to sleep on for $200/mo and an overnight stock job at Victoria Secret. Didn’t have much…but was determined to figure it out. Plenty of times where I thought, “maybe this isn’t for me,” or “maybe if it hasn’t happened for me by now, it might not ever.” But, I never left. I never called it quits. I would just find different routes in what wasn’t working and kept pushing deep into what was kind of working until I saw the other side.
Til this day, there are constant ups and downs in this career. This will never be the kind of career where “once you make it here, you’re good…” WRONG. You have to constantly stay working, staying relevant, evolving, etc. There is a new generation around every corner and If we slip, were old news. Just like any other artist. This is the most competitive job in the world… but, I know I’m cut out for it and can handle it.
What else should our readers know?
I am my own personal brand.
Mikey DellaVella the:
– Creative Director
Everyday I aim to work with new clients and collaborate to my brand with students, teachers, other choreographers, clothing brands, athletic companies, and supplement brands to keep myself elevating.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I believe in everything happening for a reason…so even if I went back and changed my route, I feel I would inevitably wind up in the same place I am today, eventually just on a different timeline.
- Website: mikeydellavella.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/mikeydellavella
- Twitter: twitter.com/mikeydellavella
Tan Jacket (@_thetrillgallery), Black/Red Ladder (@millennium_monday)