21-year-old Jamie Joseph is about to open in his first major musical theater production, The Who’s Tommy, and this is big news indeed for the young Canadian.  Jamie made the big move from British Columbia to Los Angeles three years ago, after having been awarded a one-year scholarship at the Edge Performing Arts Center. Now represented by the Bloc Talent Agency, the talented dancer is now about to share the stage with Broadway star Alice Ripley, Broadway/TV’s Jenna Leigh Green, and pop/rock legend Nona Hendryx. We caught up with Jamie recently, and here’s what he had to say about Tommy, a dancer’s life, and life in the big city for a small town boy.

Jamie, congratulations on The Who’s Tommy! At 21, you must be one of the youngest cast members. How does it feel to be working with Broadway, TV and recording stars? 

It’s incredible. Being surrounded by such great talent is so inspirational. Watching how these people work is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I, along with the rest of the cast, have enjoyed learning from them. They all have such great talent, but what’s more apparent is their spirit and love for their craft.

Tell us something about this project and what will make it special for the audience. 

Everything about this project will make for a special experience for the audience. The Who’s Tommy isn’t just a musical. (Director) Brian (Michael Purcell) has created raw, organic, human and honest energy and his casting abilities have proven genius as this whole cast brings that same energy to the show. The whole design team has created a current, contemporary visual experience to match. Not to mention the 3d surround sound that adds a shiver-inspiring element to the show.

Jamie rehearsing The Who’s Tommy (He’s the white blur in the center!)

What have you learned so far from this experience that you didn’t learn in dance school? 

Being primarily a dancer, I haven’t had much acting experience. Doing this show has taught me a lot about the basics of stage acting and I’m blessed to have such an experienced cast to learn from. As dancers when we step on stage we rely on our movement to carry our story and this quickly becomes second nature. With acting it’s a more complex process.

So, how does a Canadian kid get from British Columbia to L.A. at age 18? When did you start dancing?

I started dancing when I was 5. My mom is a ballet teacher and my older sisters danced so I didn’t have much choice. As for L.A., I was taking classes at a summer workshop from working dancers and teachers from L.A., and when they suggested making the move it just seemed like the next step. As you might assume, the opportunities for training aren’t as plentiful in a small town in B.C., so I auditioned for the scholarship program at Edge and ended up moving down a few weeks later. I never really made a monumental decision to make this my career, it just seemed to happen. Dance has always been my life so there was never a question about what I wanted to do.

Jamie (top left) and other Edge Scholarship dancers

Jamie (2nd from left) in an Edge scholarship piece

What was it like being on your own in L.A. just out of high school?  

It was nothing like I expected it to be. In many ways it was a little crazy but at the same time I immediately felt comfortable. You could say I almost had a freebie year out here. Life on scholarship doesn’t really count because you don’t really have a chance to see what this city is really like until you’re off scholarship. 

How did you adapt to living in L.A.?

Adapting was simple. You just turn on your blinker, merge, and go with the flow. The biggest challenges for me were getting on my feet after I graduated. Being from Canada I wasn’t able to work without getting my visa or social security card and doing so took me almost another year. That process is not easy and I think a lot of people don’t realize that when they come to the States to work.

The Who’s Tommy appears to be your first major Broadway-style musical. What kind of projects have you been involved in up to now?  

I’ve been dabbling in many areas of dance lately. After doing my first and only commercial (so far) for American Idol, I did a spot on America’s Best Dance crew. Jump across the dance spectrum and I’ve worked with Denise Leitner (the choreographer for this show) on the Horton Award nominated piece “Surrender” and I’m part of the contemporary dance company, Seamless Dance Theater. These projects are all memorable in their own ways. Commercial and company work are so different and so fun, it’s hard to compare them.

What kinds of things do you enjoy doing in your spare time?  Do you hang around mostly with fellow dancers?

Spare time is usually consumed with other things that feed me. Having dance be such a dominant part of my life has taught me to keep myself balanced with other projects. Music and hair are my other two passions and they keep me sane along with my wonderful (you guessed it) dancer friends. Making friends that aren’t dancers is not a hard task but it seems to be a challenge for many dancers, including myself.

A typical day for Jamie (left) and his dancer friends.

What are your career goals?  Where would you like to see yourself five years from now? 

I’m learning that I would like to be choreographing more. I love being a dancer but as time goes by I’m finding I will be more satisfied and fulfilled as a choreographer. In five years I see myself as a respected choreographer. I would love to choreograph for film or tours.

Thanks, Jamie, on taking time to answer our questions. We can’t wait for Tommy’s opening night, and we wish you all the best in your future career.

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