Today we’d like to introduce you to Mikaela Jagim.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Mikaela. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I grew up in the suburbs of Iowa with my parents and three brothers. My parents signed me up for dance when I was three years old, and I pursued both dance and gymnastics until I was 13 years old. The summer of my 13th year, I decided to quit gymnastics so I could focus more time on my dancing. During that time, I fell in love with dance and couldn’t seem to get enough of it! When I was 14, I started to travel and train at dance conventions outside of Iowa. I was fortunate to learn from LA and NYC choreographers, and I made many good friends along the way. I had a lot to learn, and I sometimes felt like I was “playing catch up” with people who had been training like this since they were eight. But I didn’t care because all I knew was that I didn’t want to stop dancing.
Now, as you can imagine, there are not a lot of professional dance jobs in Iowa. So it took me a while to realize dancing could actually be a professional career path. When I was younger, I figured I would go to college, graduate, get a job, and follow the traditional path. But the more serious I got about my dancing, the more I knew that was my calling. I was still torn between what I wanted to do and what I thought was expected of me, and I didn’t want to let anyone down. The turning point for me was my parents sitting me down, and my Dad pretty much asking me, “Mikaela, what do you want to do? If you want to go to college, we will support you. If you want to move out to LA, we will support you. But we don’t want you to choose something just because you think we want you to.” And hearing that from people whose opinions mattered most, gave me the freedom to admit to myself and to them that moving to LA was what I had wanted all along. (Thanks Mom and Dad, you da best!)
So with their blessing, I started planning my big move to LA. I didn’t have an agent, and I didn’t have a concrete plan; but, I was ready to work! I was looking forward to taking class, training and learning from the best. I was ready to put in the effort and not let myself or my parents down. I moved out, took class after class, made connections, made friends, and have loved every second. Eventually, I signed with a dance agency who then sent me on auditions. I started booking professional dance jobs. Since then, I’ve been able to dance for commercials, music videos, awards shows, dance companies and much more. I’ve lived out here over four years now, and I get to make a living by dancing every day! (What?! This still shocks me.) Every job I get to do is such a blessing, and looking back I couldn’t imagine my life doing anything different.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No, definitely not!
The dance world, like any other industry, has its own set of challenges. For me, there have been seasons of smooth and fun; there have been seasons of struggle and doubt. Oh man, I could probably write a whole novel on this topic, but I’ll try to sum it up. First off, handling rejection is hard. As professional dancers, we go to auditions all the time and get cut or don’t get the job. It’s just a part of the industry we’re in. I’ve had to learn how to be confident and secure and know my worth without needing validation from choreographers/peers/casting directors. Another challenge I’ve had is keeping my body healthy. Dancers put their bodies through so much on the daily, and it can get really taxing. Thankfully, I haven’t suffered any major injuries yet, but I’ve had to learn how to really take care of my body in order to prevent injury. On more of a personal note, it’s tough being so far from my family. They still live in the Midwest so it takes a lot to get back and see everyone. Losing time with my them is one of the biggest sacrifices I’ve had to make by moving here. Thank goodness for phone calls and FaceTime! And a quick shoutout to my parents for their constant love and support, and to the rest of my family for being my biggest cheerleaders!
Despite all the challenges, I’m thankful for each obstacle as an opportunity to trust in God and grow deeper in my faith. “…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” Romans 5:3-4
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m a professional dancer signed with a talent agency called Bloc LA. I’m trained in all styles of dance and do everything from commercials to music videos to live performances and more. I also assist industry choreographers, teach dance and choreograph for dance studios across the US. Something I am proud of is my ability to stay true to myself in an industry that can easily break you down and change you if you let it. I am dependable, respectful, and a hard worker both on set and in the studio. I pride myself on being someone others can count on. Also, I know this is going to sound so cheesy, but I really love using dance to spread joy to the people and community around me. Dance is a really special gift, and I hope to use it for good and never take it for granted.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Honestly, God had been the driving force of this story for me. He gave me this gift of dance, brought me out to LA, and has been guiding me ever since. I am so thankful for every door that He’s opened and every opportunity I’ve had.
- Instagram: @mikaelajagim
Wes Klain, Lauren Randolph, Christian Apolonio