Dancer from Newbury living the dream in Hollywood
Thirty-two-year-old Charlie Kingston is a professional dancer from Newbury, currently based in London. She’s about to make a huge move, packing up her life, to go to Los Angeles to work with celebrity choreographer Brian Nicholson alongside artists including Ariana Grande and Kim Petras, she tells arts editor TRISH LEE
She decided to make a career of dance after university.
“I came back to Newbury after studying dance at uni – three years in Cardiff. I was living back home and working at Nuffield Health as a receptionist, but I only lasted here six months before one day I realised something had to change for me.
“The next morning I handed in my notice, packed my things up and made my move to London.
“From here I knew that dance was the only thing I wanted to do and I'm so proud of myself for doing so.”
Charlie trained in many styles over the years including ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary, hip hop with all its foundations and jazz funk but now “I am most passionate about jazz funk and hip hop, the kind of style you're most likely used to seeing on stage with artists.”
Of course, Janet Jackson was an inspiration, her number one, but in Newbury there were two local names that were a huge inspiration when she started.
“Kylie Barker was my first dance teacher at Steps Ahead Dance School in Newbury. I remember looking up to her so much and wanting to dance just like she did. My first opportunity dancing on stage was because of her summer annual shows which quickly became my highlight of the year.
“Laura Kelleher (now Laura Kelleher Byrne of ACE Dance) began teaching me dance once I started at Park House School. She inspired me so much every day and was the one and only person that encouraged me to apply and go off to university to push my goals. I am forever grateful to Laura for this push, I still remember the day she came over to my house to send those emails on my behalf.”
Charlie’s career has not taken the conventional route. She started a little later in life, in dance years, after moving to London to really start pushing her career at the age of 23.
“I wouldn't change this for the world as I really have lived my life to the fullest and believe everyone has their own timing.”
When she moved to London she also started taking regular trips to Los Angeles for two to three months at a time. This allowed her to train with the best and to connect with people she would only ever see dancing on YouTube before this.
“The connections I made over there have really helped my career to where it is today.
“I was in London one day and got a text from choreographer and creative director of Ariana Grande asking if I was free the following morning to work with Ariana on a motion capture job for her tour screen footage, here in London.
“Of course I was so excited and I was the only one hired for this, making it even more incredible.
“This was a huge moment for me that I will always remember.”
As well as the motion capture for Ariana Grande filmed at Shepperton Studios, there have been many memorable dance moments: with US singer songwriter Bebe Rexha, at the MTV Europe Music Awards in Bilbao, Spain; Jax Jones and Kamille on Top of The Pops; Jax Jones, Capital FM, Jingle Bell Ball; The Saudi Cup, Saudi Arabia, Jack and Jack at MTV EMA's, Bilbao and the premiere for the Step Up series in London.
And closer to home, at Vodafone Newbury... “This was really cool, a job earlier this year brought me back to Newbury as we were hired on a corporate job to perform for Vodafone at Newbury HQ.”
She’s also worked closely dancing a lot for big brands including Google, Dunelm, Disney, Amazon and more.
“A huge highlight for me was travelling all the way to Saudi Arabia. Being paid to travel and dance, I will always hold the utmost gratitude in my heart. I was lead dancer on this job, which was a big responsibility and everything went so well. We had fans waiting for us asking for photos and we were asked back again by the company.”
But back to that next step – the big move.
Charlie has recently been signed to Los Angeles best talent agency MSA (McDonald Selznick Associates) which, she says, “is such an honour and a really proud moment for me”.
“I've been asked by Brian Nicholson to move out to LA as they want to hire me to become leading dancer in many upcoming projects, including work with Kim Petras and Ariana Grande.
Choreographers Brian and Scott Nicholson are the twins that dance with Ariana Grande
“This work will include TV, music videos, award shows as well as assisting them regularly in their well known Wonder Workshop.”
She has work scheduled from March which means she plans to make the move across the Atlantic around that time.
“Packing up my life again, this time to move to the other side of the world, is of course a little scary but with all that I have lined up I couldn’t be more excited!”
So looking ahead, what is her ambition?
“My biggest goal would be to tour with Chris Brown,” the American singer-songwriter and rapper. “Watch this space...” she says.
Now she’s living the dream, what’s the best thing about being a dancer?
“Of course being on stage and feeling that unreal feeling of dancing in front of thousands of people, this feeling is untouchable.
“Second to this I love the freedom it brings to my life, no one day is ever the same.
“I get to travel the world, move my body and to call it work. Connecting with all different people and experiencing this beautiful world doing what I love. Its a feeling I am forever grateful for.”
And she has advice for Newbury’s aspiring dancers wanting to follow their dreams.
“Be your own number one fan. No one will believe in you if you don't.
“Be serious with your training and have balance in your life to stay consistent.
“Mental health is just as important as the physical in this industry so be sure to keep both your mind and body strong while always loving what you do.
“Stay grounded and always remember why you started in the first place.”