Carlena Britch's dance resume reads like that of a who's who in music! Britch, who is best known for dancing with Justin Bieber during his two-year world tour-during which she also appeared in his movie, BELIEVE, has danced with some of music's most successful artists including: Prince, Ne-Yo, Pharrell, Jason Derulo, Michael Buble and Chris Brown just to name a few. She can most recently be seen in Usher's newest video for his song “Good Kisser”, which premiered on NBC's “The Voice” last month.
But it's not only Britch's talent and success that is impressive. During her time as a contestant on FOX's “So You Think You Can Dance”, the Vancouver native opened up about the abusive bringing she endured while growing up in several foster homes in hopes of helping and touching the lives others who were in similar situations.
In a recent interview, Britch discusses her amazing career and how what she had to overcome influenced her as an artist, how those facing hardships can still make their dreams a reality, what she learned from the artists she collaborated with, and more!
What initially sparked your interest in dancing?
Carlena- At the age of nine, a hip hop instructor came to my elementary school and taught a two week hip hop program, which I fell in love with. I believe that the connection immediately drew me from my troubled actions and thoughts and helped to focus me in a positive, artistic outlet.
I read that you have faced hardships growing up in an abusive home life and foster homes; you didn't let your past circumstances define your future. What would be your advice to those in similar situations now? How can they keep the hope that things will get better and that they can still follow your dreams?
Carlena- Inevitably, it all comes down to choice. We must believe and trust that everything we are given is for a reason; even hardships. You have the choice to pity yourself and your circumstances, or see them as a blessing for all the experience and wisdom they’re teaching you, or have taught you. It’s interesting to see the 50% of people who let these negative experiences pull them downwards into a continual spiral, or the other 50% whom rise above. We’re all the same but, it’s a matter of choice as far as which direction you wish to go.
The universe does not throw anything your way that it doesn’t believe you can’t handle. We have to look at things equally and trust that if you’re strong enough to overcome not so ideal circumstances, you are equally as strong to push towards even your wildest, most out of reach dreams. And those dreams will be be even more attainable when we recognize that they’re even closer than we could have thought.
How would you say what you had to overcome influenced you as an artist now?
Carlena- There are many things I’ve had to overcome to get to where I am today, but I would definitely say that my biggest progress has shown in overcoming myself and my own thoughts. Each experience has varied and everything has taught me something different about myself. When I was able to recognize that each step along my path was there for a reason, I was able to step outside of my thoughts and trust that there are no such thing as coincidences. The universe has an even greater plan for me and my artistry than anything I could ever dream up. It’s a matter of connecting with that plan, trusting in it, and calming my over active mind along the way.
What was the most valuable thing you took away from your experience on "So You Think You Can Dance"?
Carlena- Coming from everything I had experienced growing up, I had built this wall around me, protecting me from those that could hurt me, or take away my dreams. It wasn’t until I made the top 20 of "So You Think You Can Dance" where I came into contact with the idea of being vulnerable. In order to connect with my fans and share my story to inspire, I had to break down those walls and open my eyes to the fact that nothing and nobody could take away my dreams. It was a very rewarding experience because not only did it enlighten me, it did it on a nationally televised stage where my growth and learning process was shared with all those that were following my journey.
How was the experience on the Justin Bieber tour for you? You were on that tour for two years, best and most challenging thing about it for you?
Carlena- I had an incredible time on tour! My biggest dream upon moving to LA was to tour, and to do so with an artist of Justin’s level was a blessing. The best part about it was definitely the travels. I got to see the entire world and discover more about myself along the way. The most challenging part, was also the traveling. Sometimes when you are so far away from home it’s difficult to feel grounded in unfamiliar circumstances. It was such an amazing learning experience that I was able to take so much from.
You are in Usher's latest video, how was working with such a successful and talented artist like him?
Carlena- I really enjoyed working with Usher because I felt as if the entire experience was mature; grown. He’s been in the industry for so long that he knows exactly who he is and what he wants as an artist. It reflected throughout the entire process; from rehearsals to filming, everything ran smoothly and I got to connect with an incredible group of people.
Of all the artists you have worked with, is there one whom you learned something from that you take with you every day? A special piece of advice shared maybe?
Carlena- Most recently, on Usher’s latest video for “Good Kisser” we spent time in rehearsals developing the character I was going to play to accompany the videos storyline and choreography. Inevitably, the character was based off of exactly who I am. The most rewarding part of that experience was the recognition that everything and all that I am is enough. From my style, to my dancing and look, it reminded me to embrace my individuality.
Is there an artist you would love to collaborate with whom you haven’t yet?
Carlena- I would love to work with Justin Timberlake, Janelle Monae, FKA Twigs, and continue on a further path with the more recent artists I have had the pleasure of connecting with. Prince, Usher, and Chris Brown are all artists I would like to collaborate with further.
Finish this sentence: "For me dancing is….."
Carlena- For me, dancing is the parent I never had growing up. It has guided me, challenged me, accepted me, and helped to shape me into the woman I am today. I owe all that I am to dance, and I am excited to see what avenues and adventures it takes me on next.
Keep up with Carlena on Twitter & Instagram: @CarlenaBritch