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Meet Noel Bajandas of NuGenOVE

Today we’d like to introduce you to Noel Bajandas.

Noel, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My story begins in Hoboken, NJ. Born and raised in a part of Jersey that felt like an extension of New York City, I was surrounded by deep routed culture from every part of the world, including almost every Latin country from South America and the Caribbean. Which is why I think I walk with so much pride. I was born to Puerto Rican parents, and they showed me the true power of love and pride.

Anyways, music was always part of our daily lives, and when you are raised in a Latino household, it’s pretty inevitable that you are going to be dancing around the house at any given time. I started dancing at a young age ‘cuz my aunt and mom would make me partner dance with my cousins, who were around the same age as me, and I was the only boy for a long time raised around an all-female cast. Haha! Growing up in the age of MTV & music videos, I was infatuated with learning all the dance steps I could from some of my favorite artists, including Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Usher, MC Hammer, Paula Abdul, and even movie stars like Fred Astaire and Bob Fosse. Dance was my escape and I knew I was always good at it.

In high school, there wasn’t any dance programs that I liked (all they had was cheerleading and drillets) so I joined the MCJROTC (Marine Corps Junior Officer Training Corps) as an alternative. I was never going to join the military, but I did enjoy all of the activities that came with being in the program. I learned the art of discipline while being in there, which eventually became the backbone of my success when I decided to pursue dance at a later age.

Funny enough, as much as I loved dance, my career of choice was to become a chef. I had a passion for cooking and even got into one of the most prestigious culinary schools in the country. But even while studying culinary, I joined a dance troupe in the school, and eventually became their choreographer. Unfortunately, school was too expensive and I had to drop out before my first year.

I came back home to Jersey, joined a dance company in NYC at 18 just to kill some time while I figured out how to get back to school, and I never looked back. I always felt like dance was patiently waiting for me at the front door just hoping to grab the right opportunity to show me that this was my true path in life. Throughout my time in NYC, I was a part of 2 dance companies, danced for major artists and tv networks, toured the world and even joined the circus (Cirque Du Soleil). By the time I was 25, I had been to halfway around the world and cemented myself as a unique force in the dance world.

I decided to move to LA that year, and try to make it in the city of dreams. 12 years later, my career has expanded to starring and working in films & commercials, won awards for my choreographic work, as well as becoming a teacher/mentor to many young aspiring artists all around the world. I had no idea this was going to be my journey in life, but I’m glad I listened.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Life isn’t easy, and it’s not supposed to be. I think one learns how to maneuver themselves through life by going through hardships and overcoming them. Like I mentioned before, I had to drop out of school ‘cuz I couldn’t afford it, and that really bummed me out, ‘cuz I was being groomed at an early age to be the first boy in my family to graduate high school, get a college degree and pursue a career that no one in my family has achieved. You gotta understand, I come from a lower-middle-class neighborhood and a single mother of two, so there was a lot of pressure put on me to change that story for myself. Even when I started to pursue dance as a career, it wasn’t met with much approval. Funny to even say that considering dance has always been a part of my childhood, but I guess for them, it wasn’t what they saw as “success”. That is until I eventually proved them wrong. 🙂

For many artists pursuing their passion, it’s not easy. Most end up broke and working odd jobs to stay afloat. Even being a working professional dancer for so many years, there were times where I couldn’t pay my rent, none the less, pay a simple phone bill. In my case, I was always too skinny for most of the jobs I was auditioning for. I had such a negative complex about my body for such a long time, but I also refused to do anything about it because I was always taught to love yourself no matter what. I would also tell myself if this job isn’t for me, there’s five more that are. And eventually, I was able to carve out a place for myself in this industry that I can honestly say I’m proud of, ‘cuz it’s 100% authentically me.

NuGenOVE – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
With over 18 years in this industry so far, I have been able to develop an approach to dance that is very much stylized to who I am as an artist and a creator. Even though I started as a dancer, I’ve always had a niche for choreographing and teaching dance. The creative aspect of it excites me and throughout the years, I’ve created bodies of work that have changed the way audiences see dance. You can see my work in the Emmy nominated show “East Los High”, whom I choreographed closely with my dear friends Reina Hidalgo and Asiel Hardison. I’ve also been nominated and won accolades for my choreography work in music videos.

What sets me apart from others is my ability to tell a story through dance, as well as how stylized my movement has become. Versatility is key. You wanna be able to give everyone something they can relate to.

I started a company called NuGenOVE, which is pretty much an umbrella for where I place all of my creative work under as a choreographer, creative director and dance mentor.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success goes hand in hand with discipline.

One has to have a sense of self-discipline to make it in any field, especially as an artist. I always say the worst thing anyone can ever tell you is to work harder. The second someone tells you that I would start to reevaluate your choices. NO ONE should ever tell you to work harder. They can give you advice on how to become better, but that part of the job is on YOU.

LOVE what you do. Find something you are passionate about and work hard at it. Also, be real with yourself. You can love something, but if you aren’t good at it after a couple of years, find something else you’re good at. And this isn’t to discourage anyone. Sometimes people get stuck in the idea that the hobby they are pursuing is going to eventually pay off without ever trying something new in the process. You might surprise yourself. Trust me 😉

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Shutterschmack, Alex Larsen, Engels Santana, Gunner James, Davide Laffe, CLI Studios

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