The Family Channel’s hit series The Next Step returns for a third season this Monday, March 16, and Tribute had the opportunity to talk to two of the show’s cast members: Jordan Clark (Giselle) and Lamar Johnson (West). In the second season, the elite group of dancers won Nationals, but the studio where they train was sold to their competition. With just days left to find a training space, the dancers are wondering if this is the end of The Next Step as a dance troupe.
Jordan and Lamar told us how they got their start as dancers, what they like best about being on tour with the rest of the cast and their craziest fan encounters. They also gave a sneak peek into what their characters are up to in Season Three!
How did you get cast on the show?
L: I got an email from my agent saying that I have an audition for The Next Step, so I went to the audition, I did that, had three callbacks and after the third one it took about three months to hear anything and then, yeah, I got the role. It was a long process for sure.
J: I had a similar situation. My agent called my sister to audition and then it was like, “You know what, why don’t you go audition, too?” So, I went and I got, I think it was three or four callbacks, I can’t remember at this point, but something around there and then they weren’t sure what role they wanted to give me. It was like two weeks before we started filming and they called me and they told me what was going on and I was really excited.
How old were you when you started dancing?
L: I started dancing at the age of nine, so I started pretty late. I’m actually a self-taught dancer, so I wasn’t a part of a studio or anything. I didn’t take any specific classes, I was kind of just very street hip-hop, that was kind of my thing. I would just freestyle all the time.
J: I started when I was five and I really wanted to do Cirque de Soleil when I first started, so I did acro more so and then later I started getting into all the other styles: ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, lyrical, contemporary, all that kind of stuff.
Have either of you ever met any dancers as competitive as they are on the show?
L: I think many dancers that are in the competitive studios, they’re fairly competitive because you kind of have to be. You have to want to win, you have to have the drive.
J: Absolutely, I completely agree with Lamar. I mean, there’s definitely healthy competition going on, for sure. Everyone wants to be against the best, so they can say, you know, that was a great competition, you can actually see what the best of the best are doing. Everyone’s pretty competitive, but in a great way, if that makes any sense.
Aside from the show, how much time do you spend working on dance?
L: I actually spend a lot of time working on dance, whether it’s training, choreographingor just freestyling. I always find myself dancing, even if I’m on the corner of the road and the crosswalks have the beeps. Sometimes I find myself dancing to the beeps. Whenever I just hear a consistent pattern or rhythm I just always find myself dancing to it, for some reason.
J: I’m kind of the same. I think it’s a dancer thing to be honest. Even if there isn’t a beat, you just kind of make one up in your head. If you bored, just chillin’ you just make a beat up in your head and you started grooving along with it. I find myself, when I’m shopping, there’s music in the background, so as I’m looking through the clothes rack, I’ll be dancing a little bit. You get some stares.
What’s harder, playing a scene with other cast members or doing the camera interview scenes?
L: I would say the camera interview scenes, just because they ask you a whole bunch of questions based on what your character is going through that episode, so whether your character is happy or sad or mad, you have to embody that all in that one sitting, so I feel it takes much more out of you when you’re doing those interviews than doing the actual scene.
Is there somebody behind the camera asking the questions that you can talk to?
J: Yes, they’re always repeating the question for us and they kind of talk us through, you know, if we don’t remember how the scene went, they fill us in. But I definitely agree with Lamar, talking heads are definitely the hardest.
You’re on tour currently, what’s your favorite thing about touring?
L: I think my favorite thing about being on tour is just going to a new place every single day. And also seeing our fans. The fact that our tour is sold out is phenomenal and it’s amazing and we get to go to all these new venues and see a whole bunch of different faces every single day. Each audience gives us different energy. I think that’s probably my favorite part about it.
J: I completely agree with Lamar. When we’re filming, we don’t really know the extent of the fan base. On Instagram, we have a lot of fans post on our Instagram, “We love you!” saying those nice things, but to actually see it physically, in front of our faces, is a completely different feeling. That’s quite extraordinary to go all the way across Canada and have this kind of fan base, it really means a lot to us.
How young was the youngest fan you’ve met and how old was the oldest?
L: The youngest fan that I personally met was maybe like three or something. They were very, very young. I think the oldest, maybe a parent. They were like, “Hey, you know what, we love this show, it’s our guilty pleasure, we watch this all the time.” The age range is just so large. A lot of people like to sit down and watch the show.
Do you have a favorite city that you visited?
L: That’s really hard to say my favorite city, just because, one again, each city just gives us different energy. Each city is a different experience.
J: Montreal was really, really crazy.
L: Yeah, probably Montreal. The energy, it was crazy, the fans were just so into it. I think that was pretty awesome.
J: It wasn’t our biggest venue, but they made almost as much noise as our big venues.
What has been your favorite storyline for your character so far?
L: Probably my storyline in the third season. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but West definitely goes through a transition in finding new pathways as far as dance and he really opens his mind up to different styles.
J: For me, it would probably have to be in season three, as well. I can’t give too much away, but there’s definitely a lot more pressure on my character and she’s dealing with a lot in season three. A lot. This is the most pressure that she has ever felt. Another favorite storyline is me getting kicked out and going to B Troupe and then getting back into A Troupe because it just shows how far I have pushed myself and been really working hard to get back into the competitive group.
Have either of you ever had a crazy fan encounter?
L: I think it’d probably just have to be when we did the mall tour. We were at Scarborough Town Centre, we’d finished our show, we signed autographs, we did all that kind of stuff and then when we were leaving, we exited and then I just specifically remember the security guards saying, “Run! Run!” and we’re like what? And we turned back and there’s probably a couple hundred kids running after us, chasing us, so I think that was the craziest fan moment for me.
J: There have been like… I just can’t believe how passionate our fans are. It’s quite extraordinary. In any situation, you know, even on the tour in Regina, they’re constantly yelling out and trying to talk to us, “We love you!” and anything we said – I think I said “Namaste” at one point – and they were [shouting back], “Namaste!!” I was like, oh all right, “Peace and love everybody.” They’re just so passionate with everything that they do and it’s quite extraordinary. I wasn’t on the mall tour last year, but Trevor, Brittany and I got a chance to go to Montreal a year ago and we went into the mall and we were just kind of seeing what our fan base was out there. In the mall tour, I don’t think they went to Montreal, so it was just kind of the first time that The Next Step had made an appearance in Montreal and I just couldn’t believe it. There were so many people there, they were screaming and yelling. Security guards were blocking everybody, people were trying to touch us. It’s quite cool.
L: It’s really surreal.
What would you like to do next after The Next Step comes to a close, which hopefully won’t be for a long time, but would you like to continue to act?
L: Most definitely, yeah. I definitely do plan to continue to act, continue to dance, continue to choreograph. I have so many aspirations. I think as far as what’s next, I think acting is definitely something I want to put a lot of time into.
J: Lamar and I are both pretty passionate people with what we do and everything. I definitely want to continue acting as well. I would love to do a musical film. That would be amazing to be able to sing, dance and act. I would love to do Disney, like The Little Mermaid or something like that. That would be super fun. It’s the same as Lamar, I have so many dreams and goals. I would love to continue to hopefully reach them.