Dance has become more accessible and impactful through the years through many famous dance shows on TV, dance workout programs, the advent of social media, and in recent years even through Apps like TikTok. Many people of all ages dance together to the newest trending TikTok dance challenges, but few really know how much hard work, dedication, and perseverance it takes to make it as a professional dancer.
Many dream of the big stage or the silver screen, but few actually make it.Incredible dance talent alone is not enough. “To make it in this industry, you constantly have to take dance classes to perfect your craft, update your headshots, continuously fine tune your communication skills, stay physically & mentally fit, network with other dancers and choreographers, be in close contact with your agency, and attend dance auditions sometimes several times a week. On top of all that, I pride myself in my professionalism, positive attitude and relentless strong work ethic – all of this connected to my passion and gratitude for all that I do,” says Dustin Ripkens, a professional dancer and choreographer in Los Angeles, with a lengthy and successful career.
Los Angeles is the mecca of commercial dance. People from all over the world who dream of making it big come there to try their luck. Dustin Ripkens is one of the few who has come to L.A. with a dream and has seen that dream come true. Originally born and raised in Germany, Dustin moved to Los Angeles in 2013.
After finishing his dance degree at Performers College in London where Dustin won the “BEST Male Award for Outstanding abilities,” this dancer from Germany was ready for more. “I wanted to learn from, grow alongside, and be mentored by the best in the world to grow into the greatest dancer, performer and choreographer I could possibly be”, shares Dustin.
Nowadays, Los Angeles is flooded by incredible dancers, some starting as young as 4 years old. Many dabble or train professionally, but ultimately decide to start a different career. The path of a dancer is unpredictable. Dancers need to be adaptable to be able to move from one job to the next while balancing the high living costs of LA life.
“Being a versatile dancer and learning new dance forms helped me to never stop working as a dancer”, says Dustin. Ripkens has worked as a modern dancer for LA Choreographers & Dancers where he toured all over California and New York. Dustin also started learning the craft of Bollywood dance that led him to secure him an ongoing touring job with Mystic India: The World Tour as well as a three year seasonal contract with Disneyland California Adventure. Through his musical theater training back in London, Dustin was a proud member of the cast of Vox Lumiere’s version of the musical ‘Phantom of the Opera’ in 2015. His Jazz & Hip Hop dance training secured him several TV, film and commercial jobs such as Heineken commercial, Sarkar the movie, A Little Late with Lilly Singh on NBC to name a few.
“You never know where your path may take you”, shares Dustin, “I would have never imagined that my career will unfold in such a beautiful and diverse way”. Sharing with your parents the dream of becoming a professional dancer instead of becoming a doctor, lawyer or engineer isn’t necessarily what parents wish for. With social media on the rise and dance becoming more accessible to families all over the world, acceptance & understanding has grown generally.
Many children and teenagers nowadays have access to attend dance competitions, dance camps, dance conventions, dance battles, and dance performances for so many genres of dance. They train endlessly for recognition locally and globally. Latin Mirage International Dance Competition in Los Angeles is one of those prestigious dance competition platforms that attracts many dancers. In 2018, Dustin was a judge besides the renown Regine Costello and Keisha Clark-Booth to judge and provide constructive feedback for these aspiring, young dancers.
Dustin shares: “I love seeing the next generation shine. It’s an honor to support them, give them useful advice, and help encourage them forward in their dance journey.”