After an illustrious career as a versatile dancer in his youth (highlighted by an appearance on “Star Search”), dancer Nick Lazzarini went on to win the first season of the hit television show “So You Think You Can Dance.” He teaches, choreographs and performs with his dance company Shaping Sound. He will perform at the Cobb Energy Centre on June 14.
What have you been up to lately?
I’ve been on tour with my dance company Shaping Sound. We’ve created a brand-new show called “After the Curtain.” I think it will definitely resonate with the LGBTQ community. It’s a love story told through dance. I think if you come out and watch the show, you will be moved. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. It’s an amazing experience.
Did you know from an early age that you wanted to be a dancer?
I got started because I was one of those kids that tried pretty much every sport there was when they were little. I just never really took to any of them. My mom went to sign me up for T-ball at the local recreation center. There was a dance class going on and I was watching it through the window. It looked fun so I asked my mom if I could try it.
It took about two classes for me to know that it was natural for me. It made me happy to have something that I loved and was good at. I was really lucky to parlay my natural talent into a career. I surrounded myself with talented friends and mentors. I was one of the lucky ones that got successful, especially at a time when dance was becoming super popular.
You kind of helped to make it more popular.
Yes, I was on the first season of “So You Think You Can Dance.” Without that show and other shows like it, I don’t think dance would be nearly as popular as it is right now. A new show just premiered called “The World of Dance.” It’s another big competition dance show on a large network. It’s cool that there are so many more opportunities for dancers to make a living than there used to be.
Did other people give you a hard time for being a male dancer when you were a kid or were you supported?
I always felt supported by my family. There are videos of my dad tying my dresses for me – the ones that I created out of blankets. He’s sitting there watching football and I’m making dresses. It’s hilarious. I was always very supported by my family and free to be myself.
Elementary and middle school were kind of hard because that’s when kids are the meanest and don’t really know any better. Once I got into high school, things got a lot better. Most of the boys figured out that dance isn’t just tutus and tights. “You get to do what with that girl?” and “She’s wearing that?” and “You get to lift her and touch her and have your hands all over her?”
I didn’t like it, but it became much cooler once they saw what type of dance I was doing. It didn’t hurt that I had been on “Star Search” and had gotten a few accolades from the local papers for winning competitions.
You mentioned earlier that you were surrounded by mentors. What was the best advice you ever got from them?
It’s hard because you’re always getting advice from your teachers and everything they tell you is good advice. It can be something small like “rotate your legs more” or “you don’t need to go to college because you can have a dance career right now.” I think that the best advice that all my teachers gave to me was to be as well-rounded as possible.
Any advice from you to other LGBT young people pursuing a career in dance?
Remember why you love to do what you do. I think one of the luckier things that we get to do as dancers is doing something that we really, truly love. You can’t – excuse my French – half-assed do. It just doesn’t work that way. You have to work hard. You have to put in the effort to be a great dancer and to want to succeed in this business. So always remember why you put in all of this work. Do what you love to do.
I’m sure your career has afforded a lot of exciting moments. What…
Meeting Adele [laughs]. It was for “Dancing With the Stars” right when “Rolling in the Deep” came out as her single. She sang it and we danced for her. She was sick but she came back to the trailer to meet us. She was funny, sweet and kind. She didn’t have to do that. It was amazing!
Parting words to the Atlanta LGBT community?
I’m really excited to be coming to Atlanta because the dance scene there is humongous and growing every day. Obviously Los Angeles and New York have booming scenes, but it’s great that Atlanta is now joining in their ranks as another dance hub. I want everyone to come see the show. Afterwards, we always come out to do a meet-and-greet so meet the cast. Meet me. I’m single.
I’ll let them know. What’s your type?
Tall, dark and handsome!
“Travis Wall’s Shaping Sound: After the Curtain” June 14 at 8 p.m. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway Atlanta, GA 30339 www.cobbenergycentre.com