The dance world is loaded with individuals who, for whatever reason, take what they can get out of the industry and run. However, a few truly take it upon themselves to leave the path behind them a bit better-paved. One such individual is Amsterdam-born Loraine Day. Throughout her extremely successful career as a professional dancer, Loraine has performed with and choreographed for just about any star you can think of—from Beyoncé to the Backstreet Boys, on stages from the US to Brazil.
In 2012, Loraine founded LAtitude as a way to help international students—who travel to LA with a vision much like her own—to make it as a dancer. This year-round program functions as a liaison between newly arriving international dancers and the dance industry. A staple of the program includes seasonal camp experiences where students have the opportunity to work with professional choreographers, have access to unlimited classes in most major dance studios, and participate in day trips to sightsee around LA. In addition, The Noho House gives these students a home in the dance hub of LA during their visit.
We had the chance to interview Loraine about her journey and the impact she has made as an entrepreneur of the dance industry.
Briefly tell us about your experience growing up and your dreams of the future. Had you always imagined you would become a dancer?
I grew up in a small suburb in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and [have] been dancing since I was 6 years old. Dancing has always been a part of my upbringing coming from a Caribbean background. I started out with ballet, jazz, tap and acrobatics but my mom stressed early on the importance of an education so I stopped dancing for a while and focused on college. Dancing came back into my life at the age of 16 when I joined a hip hop team lead by Jake Impenge. He gave me the opportunity to perform throughout Europe with this team. That is the moment I knew I wanted to take dance further and perhaps even a career as a dancer. After finishing college when I was 18 years old, my mom fully supported my dance ambition, as she also witnessed my love for the arts growing up. I also worked as a dancer for some time in London and got signed by one of the biggest dance agency's in the UK. This was the first step towards my professional dance career and where I was able to dance for many pop artists. The next step for me always was Los Angeles; and it was my dream to have a career as a professional dancer in the States. So I saved up, packed my bag and my dreams, and moved to Los Angeles. I found a wonderful dance agency that believed in me and helped me settle in LA and finally I was living my dreams to the fullest.
What brought you specifically to LA from Amsterdam?
Watching MTV and becoming inspired by all the dancers in the music videos from artists I adored, I started to research where I could follow classes and workshops of choreographers that inspired me. Soon I learned LA was the place to be if you want to make it in the business. I went with my dance teacher Jake Impenge to LA for 3 weeks and I fell in love with the dance culture here and the city. I just knew to make it to the top as a dancer, I had to be here. Therefore I made the leap from Amsterdam to LA.
What was the transition like for you, first as a visitor and later as a permanent resident of LA?
It was difficult in the beginning but also life changing. You quickly learn—when you decide to actually try and stay to follow your dreams—so many more responsibilities come with it. From money management, to enhancing your networking skills, and learning to deal with all the no's you will be hearing before you receive that one yes. I feel living as a dancer in LA taught me so much about myself, people, and life in general that I wasn't able to fully explore when visiting since you always have in the back of your mind that it is temporary and you are going home. So you enjoy day to day life while being on vacation so much more carefree than when you are actually living in a new place and starting over from scratch.
Please tell us about some of the highlights in your career. How did these accomplishments make you feel?
Some of my personal highlights include when I got the opportunity to choreograph for the Backstreet Boys World Tour and when I got to perform for Ne-yo on the MTV awards. Both events brought me back to my childhood and when I started dreaming my dreams. From watching MTV at home to singing along with the Backstreet Boys songs. It was an incredible feeling of gratitude and disbelief when those two highlights happened for me.
What artists have you worked with? What do you feel you learned from these experiences?
I have worked with the following artists: Will.I.Am, Beyonce,Usher, Ne-yo, PitBull, Backstreet Boys, Jermaine and Tito Jackson, Nelly Furtado, Mariah Carey to name a few. I also worked for NIKE woman dance as a dance role model. I think I learned most to be flexible, since you work with different types of people and personalities at all times, to always give your 100% and be professional from the moment you walk in the door. And to be present. To learn and listen to all that is happening around me.
What motivated you to begin LAtitude and what has the process of launching it been like for you?
I always felt I wanted to give back to upcoming dancers what dance and LA has brought me. From the people I met to the dance experience I had. The good and the bad. I wanted to give dancers a platform to feel safe and a sense of belonging when they come, all alone, to a city they don't know to follow their dreams; and create a place where all their questions about the dance industry are answered. That is how LAtitude was formed. It has been extremely rewarding being the studio director for LAtitude by helping other dancers fulfill their dreams, and being able to help shape their future in dance. Next to that, it is so inspiring on a personal level seeing dancers work so hard; and watching dancers grow and dance alongside myself has been an amazing experience.
TELL US MORE ABOUT LATITUDE AND YOUR ROLE IN FOUNDING IT.
LAtitude was founded in 2012, and it is an international dance camp in Los Angeles for aspiring dancers from around the world that aim to have a professional dance career. We provide a challenging but fun environment for those dancers by providing them with all the tools to be successful in the dance industry. We provide dancers with a platform that consists of the highest level of training, by bringing together the top choreographers and dance professionals in the industry to teach, inspire, and dance with our students. We provide dance seminars and private training sessions for a period of 21 days. We also work side by side with the top dance studios in North Hollywood, Los Angeles to provide top-notch dance training. I am the Founder of this program and the studio director of LAtitude. I am currently working on all the upcoming camps for LAtitude and have many dance projects revolving around it that keep me quite busy in the dance industry. I cannot imagine my life without dance, and would never be able to part from it. As a studio director, it is so fulfilling to be able to pass on all my dance knowledge, and be a mentor for so many dancers. And it is an honor to be able to help pave the way in their future to become a successful, professional dancer, as well, and in helping them pursue their dance dreams.
What has been the biggest lesson you have learned as a dancer that you would like to communicate to dancers that are just starting out?
I think the biggest lesson for me has been that it is important to believe in yourself even when no one does and to trust your path and the timing of your life. Next to that to work hard for what you want and not lose focus. And to remember to always follow your dreams because you never want to have that “what if” feeling. At least you tried even if you failed.
What do you wish professional dancers kept in mind about the reality of life as a dancer?
To be patient and stay humble. To not forget where you came from, to be more kind to one another and help each other more instead of getting ahead of each other. And to sometimes not forget why you started dancing in the first place because of the love for the art.
What has been the most impactful aspect of creating LAtitude for you personally?
Personally being able to have a worldwide network of dancers I get to call my family. To be able to aspire... to inspire. I always feel the more you give back the more you get back in return—that is in life and in dance.