India Jones has been dancing since she was 7 years old and has danced on the 76ers dance team as well as served as the captain for the “Honeybees,” the dance squad for arena football team, the Philadelphia Yellow Jackets. She talks about how she prepares for auditions, what she does to hone her skills, and even gives advice to those interested in becoming professional dancers…
How long have you been dancing and how/what got you started?
I have been dancing since forever, because it has always been naturally in me. I have always been active and participating in sports and cheer/dance. I began my career in cheerleading and dance at the age of 7 and I also played basketball and ran track. I didn’t begin formal dance training until the age of 13. So I've been training and performing as a dancer for almost 15 years. I have always known I wanted to spend my life on stage and entertaining, but it wasn’t until I entered high school and that is when I solidified my dream of being a star!
You were previously a dancer for the 76ers, please tell us what that experience was like.
My time dancing for the 76ers was so awesome. There is nothing like dancing in your hometown, in front of thousands of people, and many people that I actually know. It was like a dream come true to be able to do what I love combined with a sport I have always loved. It was like a real life love and basketball moment for me lol. The best part of it all was the moment I told my mom and dad that I made the team. The joy I felt sharing that news with them stills gets me emotional even to this day. They were so excited because they are my biggest supporters and they shared this journey with me and invested just as much as I did. Most people don’t know that I actually auditioned for the 76ers dance team twice before I actually made the team on my third attempt. It really showed me the importance of trusting and listening to what God led me to do.. which is far more important than leaning on my own understanding and choices. I also learned the insurmountable amount of perseverance I have that allowed me to accomplish one of my biggest goals at that time. I enjoyed learning all the different routines we performed at the games and appearances. I also built friendships with many of my teammates, which made the experience even more exciting. I enjoyed all the community appearances that we attended. It allowed me to interact with all types of people and make a lasting impression in the community while representing such a prestigious organization. It has taught me many life lessons that I will carry throughout my career and life.
You recently became a dancer for another sports team, congratulations! How has that experience been so far?
Thank you so much! I most recently had the honor of being an official dancer for the newest Philadelphia indoor football team The Philadelphia Yellow Jackets (Arena football). I am also the captain of the squad. It has been such a positive experience. I enjoyed bonding and creating lasting friendships with my new teammates, sharing my knowledge and experience with them, and just showing out with all our new choreography at the home games.
What is a normal audition like and how do you normally prepare?
Auditions vary depending on the type of audition you are doing. Dance auditions are usually long and require you to learn choreography, sometimes free style, and sometimes type casting occurs in order to make cuts based off appearance and what that specific group, artist, team, or company may be looking for. Also, there are usually rounds of cuts, too, if there is a large number of people auditioning. Acting auditions can be long or short depending on the directors and producers and what they want to see from the actor. Usually, you must come with a monologue prepared and they may even give you the script for a cold read. Again, it all may vary depending on the project or role.
I usually prepare for any audition by praying, claiming it, and making sure I get a good night’s rest. I also make sure I do my research about the actual team, or artist or role I am going out for to be better equipped to go in the audition prepared and confident. As a dancer or actor I have to constantly stay ready and train often. I believe when you stay ready, you never have to get ready. One of my favorite quotes/sayings is “ Success is when preparation and opportunity meet.”
What do you do to continue to hone your skills?
I workout and try to eat healthy, although its hard at times. I also take dance classes and i attend dance and acting workshops when possible. I always stay involved with my craft in some form whether its watching youtube videos, dance movies/shows or documentaries, and going to live shows. It keeps me motivated to always strive for bigger things and platforms. I also make sure I am up on the latest dance trends. I gotta make sure I keep up with the youngins lol.
What hindrances have you experienced and how have you over came them?
Just like many people, I have experienced many obstacles and hurdles that have at times effected my confidence in myself, and at times made me doubt if I was good enough. I have been told I was too short, I have been rejected because of my skin color, and even for things that until this day I still don’t even know why. When I did not return back to the 76ers dance team, it hurt me to the core. I didn't understand why, and I actually began to think it was something I did. I was embarrassed and felt like I let everyone who believed in me down. It wasn’t until God revealed to me that sometimes he removes us from situations that we may not choose to remove ourselves from on our own. He removed me from that platform so that I can work harder to push myself to follow the path that he has destined for me and to create my own platform for myself and those that look up to me. He is intentional and I am more humble and grateful from that experience and it equipped me to have a testimony to help others deal with hinderances they may face in this business and life period. But the only way I was able to overcome all the obstacles that have been placed in my life, has been based off my faith in God and the support system he has blessed me with. I will always keep it moving and never stay down.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in becoming a professional dancer?
The advice I would give to someone that wants to become a professional dancer is to always work on your gift and yourself as a person. You have to know who you are and trust in what you believe in, so that you stay grounded in this business. Its a must to develop tough skin, because you will face a lot of rejection in this industry and you have to trust that God is only preparing you for your time and your season and not someone else’s. You must certainly train and learn as many different styles and techniques as you can to set you aside from others. Never go into an audition thinking your competing against others. Just be confident, and know that if this is God’s plan for you, its already yours! No matter what, having faith, perseverance, and to never be complacent is key!
What can we expect from you in 2016 and in the future? What are you doing now to prepare yourself for you future goals?
WOW 2016, where do I begin? I just feel like skies the limit. I am continuously working on my craft, so that I am always ready for my next move. 2016 and beyond is dedicated to branding India Jones. I have been in a stage play that I debuted in March. I am building my business and brand as a choreographer. I will still be dancing of course, and just ended the season working with the Yellow Jackets as captain of the squad. After the season ended, God has lead me to one of my biggest moves for my career thus far. I relocated to Atlanta, Ga. This is a start to the next level of “ME.” I continue to perform as a background dancer and creative director. I am always thinking about my next move and what I will accomplish even while I am working on one at the moment. I am always busy and I have been blessed with many opportunities throughout my life. You can expect to see me on a larger platform very soon… Television, film, world tours are in my near future.
I am continuing to train and push myself to do things outside of my comfort zone. I am consistently teaching myself to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. God has lead me this far and I will continue to follow his lead. I am destined for greatness and I refuse to stop, deter, or settle until I reach my goals and thats my promise to God, myself, my family and my dreams.
You can keep up with India via her Facebook: India Jones and IG: @im_indiajones
Congratulations on all of your accomplishments, India! The sky and beyond is the limit for you!