Kathryn McCormick is a world class dancer who has held a long role on So You Think You Can Dance USA and featured in Step Up Revolution. But while she may frequent the 'spotlight', Kathryn lives for the behind-the-scenes moments, and is passionate about motivating the next generation to know their worth.
Tell me about yourself - your childhood, growing up, etc.
I grew up in the same house my entire life in Augusta, GA. I am 25 years old and I have an older sister and younger brother. My sister is 28 and has a wonderful husband and four beautiful children. My brother is 15 years old and is in high school.
My mom grew up dancing and once she was old enough she opened a dance studio, The Dance Connection - this is where my sister and I started dancing at the age of three. A couple years later, my mom decided to go back to go for nursing and had to close down the studio to do so, so I ended up continuing my training at Augusta West Dance Studio (where my mother trained growing up) until I graduated high school.
My dad's dream was to be a pro golfer. He was pursuing it heavily until my sister and I were born, he then started to work in the cable industry. From there he decided to learn more about the diamond industry - he learned how to cut stones and opened his own jewelry store. Today he is a realtor. Haha, he is a man of many dreams, and he pursues them all!
When I was younger I was very shy, a nervous little girl in public, but when I was home or around my friends, I loved putting on shows, playing pranks, and making everyone around me laugh.
I was always very close to my grandparents - we would call them Mamama and Grandaddy! I spent almost everyday after school at their house, swimming, watching Hollywood squares, learning how to make fried green tomatoes, etc.
When I was 10 years old I auditioned to be in the performing companies at my dance studio and that was when I fell in love with it! I got to travel multiple times a year and share stories through movement. I trained in ballet, tap, and jazz growing up and would experience different styles on the weekends when we would get to travel to convention. When I was in high school, on top of my training at Augusta West, I started training at a separate ballet school. I knew I wanted to do this for a living, but I truly didn't feel like my technique was strong enough to make that a reality, so I started working double time.
When I was 18 years old, a friend recommended me to an agency in Los Angeles. I flew out, immediately signed a contract with them, and they had me on my first audition within a few weeks. I ended up flying out to this audition and somehow booked my first job causing me to have to move to LA the following month. I packed my bags and moved out immediately to soon find out that what I thought would be three to four months of work for me was only one day. In the end I was grateful for this because, if I knew it was only one day, I would have just come for a visit instead of making the move. I stayed in LA, trained, auditioned, and trained some more until something finally hit (many months later). Through the process of discovering what it looks like to have a professional dance career (or at least finding my unique way), I have met some of the most amazing friends, mentors, my gorgeous husband, and learned so much about myself (the good, bad, and ugly) along the way. I wouldn't trade this journey for the world.
You were on So You Think You Can Dance USA for a few years, held a role in Step Up Revolution in 2012, and have featured in various other movies. Tell me about these experiences.
SYTYCD has been such an incredible gift to me. After being a contestant in season 6, an 'allstar' in seasons 7-12, and now returning this summer as an allstar/mentor, the people have grown to become a family to me. This was my first professional opportunity and has played a constant in my dance career. The show has given me the space to explore new styles of movement and has challenged me to my maximum potential. It has shown me that I am capable of more than I could have ever imagined and has pushed me to go further.
Step Up Revolution was such an incredible experience - it was my first acting audition and first acting role, which was challenging/nerve wrecking at times, but amazing. It helped me to discover a confidence in my voice and allowed me to highlight my love for dance along the way. I made such beautiful friends on this project and had the time of my life!
What has been a career highlight for you? Can you put it down to one thing?
The first thing that pops in my head was a tour I did called The Revolve Tour. In 2010, the theme for their event was 'Dream On', and they brought me on as a featured speaker alongside additional speakers, musicians, and their drama team. We traveled on 12 separate weekends and spoke to over 80,000 young women around the United States. I did perform a solo during this tour, but more importantly I got to share my story of pursuing my dreams and the difficulties and miracles that have come along with it. I got to share my heart's desires beyond dancing and motivate these young women to embrace their unique gifts, to have faith in the process even when the journey feels hopeless, and to allow their hearts to remain the priority along the way. This tour gave me the confidence to embrace my voice and revealed to me the beauty that can come from being vulnerable in new experiences. Before this experience, I thought dancing was all I had to offer and the idea of speaking in public terrified me. I am now so grateful to have had the space to share my story and get to see how inspired these girls were in return. All of this to say...
What is it like to be in the world of show biz? How do you stay grounded?
I know what's important to me and it is has never been the spotlight. Relationship and human connection have always been the most exciting parts about each opportunity I have been given. Whatever the project is and no matter how many people get to see it, you are left with the reality of the moment which is such a different experience than what others see on screen or at a show. Nothing compares to that silent conversation you have with a partner or group of people when you are performing and looking them in the eyes. You have made so much history leading up to that moment of adrenaline and the audience only gets to see a glimpse of it. I live for that depth and for the opportunities that make you feel like you are a part of something so much bigger than yourself.
When I get caught up in the approval of the industry or popularity of it, all I know is that I am losing sight of what is important and need to take a second to get my priorities in line.
Tell me about your role with DanceMakers. You’re pretty passionate about empowering young women - tell me about that!
I started attending DMI when I was 10 years old. I grew up taking classes two to three times a year with the convention until I was 18 years old. I am currently touring with them on multiple weekends out of the year as a faculty member and the co-director of The Collective (our assistant program).
From the outside eye, DanceMakers (DMI) looks like just another dance convention/competition, but it is so much more than that. Their mission is not only to educate young dancers, but to remind them of their worth along the way. There is a constant battle between the pressure of the industry (for these kids it is competition) and true artistry. We hope to redefine success by reminding them that success is not about how impressive you may be to others, but it is a space in which your heart is held. Success is the moment you step on the floor with love overflowing from your being in order to share with others and bring life to your environment, it has nothing to do with the actual moment itself.
DMI has given me a space to embrace my voice and desire to motivate the next generation. It is overwhelming and incredibly fulfilling to be a part of a company that puts so much heart into what they do. DanceMakers' goal is not to be the most 'successful' convention, but the hope is to be a movement.
Who's the one person you look up to the most and why?
My husband, and what I call my 'Sheep Pack'. :)
Jacob sees through me. He calls me up to live in my power and teaches me to love myself deeper through the way he loves and pursues me. By being closer to him, I feel closer to myself and the Lord. I admire his unforgiving honesty and the way he stands in his truth. He makes me a more true and honest version of myself.
And then there is my 'Sheep Pack'. I meet with a group of my closest girlfriends once a week to chat about our lives, loved ones, desires, deepest hurts/struggles, and how to introduce love into every one of these spaces. We study together to dig deeper into what our lives were intended to look like from the beginning and how we can be more intentional about the choices we make in order to live in our most pure and purposeful state. Things get real and these ladies have become my power team. I look up to each one in different ways and I'm so grateful to have a group of friends who are constantly pursuing my heart and my spirit even if I may not be. They bring me back to my center, they are my examples of what it looks like to stand in the fullness of who you are, they inspire my relationship with the Lord by their constant pursuit and passion to know Him, and they're my best friends.
What’s your best piece of advice for young women as they find their feet in the world, figure out their purpose and pursue their passions?
Take the time to find what it is inside of you that brings life and love to others around you - whatever that quality is, use it in all that you do. I believe that we all have something unique in our character and our purpose is to spread that. We are then given gifts and talents in order to be an outlet to spread that light.
I hope you enjoyed reading this Q&A with Kathryn. I absolutely adore her sweet spirit, and how she is so very passionate about empowering the next generation of young dancers to not only exceed in their skills, but more importantly to know their worth!
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