Jay Chris Moore has performed with the biggest hip-hop stars, but he’s proudest of helping dancers find meaningful community.
Having worked with many popular artists, including Usher, Missy Elliott, LMFAO, Black Eyed Peas, Anderson Paak, and MC Hammer, Jay Chris Moore is considered an OG in the dance community. But before all the success, the talented hip-hop dancer and choreographer had to persevere though many challenges in life. In an interview, Jay Chris shared how he found dance and why he felt compelled to create a welcoming community for dancers in North Hollywood, California.
Where did you grow up, and where do you live now?
I’m a Cali kid, born and raised, but I have roots in the East! My parents are both from the East Coast, so I spent a lot of time visiting as a kid, but LA is where I call home. Rowland Heights, to be exact—a city that’s unknown to most and merely three exits on the freeway, but it’s full of some of the most artistic and talented people I’ve ever met. I currently reside in the heart of the dance world: North Hollywood, California.
When did you get your start as a dancer, and how did you develop your skills in dance and choreography?
I was always an athlete growing up, into breakdancing and popping as a teenager, and started a hip-hop dance team in high school, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I really started taking dancing more seriously in a competitive manner. I was blessed to be a part of the collegiate/street dance community and was exposed to so many different dancers from all over the world. This also led me to meeting one of my best friends, Stephen “tWitch” Boss, who introduced me to the LA dance industry. Through my years as a dancer, I began to develop my own style of movement while also being able to implement the training of my teachers, peers, and predecessors, including Kevin Brewer, Super Dave Royster, Jayson Wright, Gary Kendall, Marty Kudelka, Mario Navarette, Jaffar Smith, and Arnel Calvario. While always using my base as a freestyle dancer, I use that when creating my choreography.
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What are the greatest challenges you’ve faced in life, and has dance helped you through them?
I haven’t always been a dancer. In high school I was mostly an athlete and a musician, but I never really felt like I fit in anywhere, to be honest, so I hopped around from different groups of friends and circles/cliques.
I’ve definitely made my share of bad decisions that have led me to really take a step back and think about what I’m doing with my life. I think a big part of righting our wrongs in life is to accept and acknowledge. Accept responsibility for your actions. Accept the repercussions of your actions. Accept that the past can’t be changed, but acknowledge that we can always change so the future is brighter. Acknowledge the positive that can come from making that change, and embrace it.
When I lost my parents at a young age, I thought the world was completely against me and nobody cared about what I did. So I shut the world out and just focused on music and dancing. I found happiness and an outlet, and I was creating things I felt were amazing. However, since my outlook on life was pushing people away, I wasn’t able to share that same passion and creative outlet with anyone else.
It wasn’t until I let my guard down and surrounded myself with like-minded people and really just threw myself into the dance world and culture that I found where I really fit in. I can honestly say dancing saved my life. There have been a lot of times that if dancing weren’t around, I probably would have been hanging with the wrong group of people. For the past 19 years, dance has been the one constant thing that’s always been there to let me express myself when I feel like I don’t have the words to speak.
Could you tell us about the vision and work of The MOB Dance Company?
When I created the company, I just wanted to be able to be a bridge for dancers who wanted to have the experience of the competitive dance circuit while also training with dancers who are pursuing a career in the dance industry, so it would be the best of both worlds. However, in the past few years I’ve realized I just want to provide a home for hungry and passionate dancers. In North Hollywood, a lot of dancers are from out of state and moved here not knowing anyone. With the LA scene being so competitive, with auditions daily and the constant hustle, it’s hard to find a sense of family, so that’s what I like to try to provide. We train very hard, and I expect all my dancers to give their all whenever we step into the studio, but we also want our bonds to be solid in and out of the studio equally.
Which of your career highlights have meant the most to you, and why?
I’ve been blessed to dance in the Super Bowl, award shows, and music videos that some would consider the highlight of their career. However, I think out of all the things I’ve done in my career, what really means the most is starting up my dance company. In a town full of competition and consistent criticism, it’s hard to find a place to call home or an environment that’s welcoming and will allow you to reach your potential without the consistent pressure of the industry. I created The MOB Dance Company so dancers would have a place to grow and level up, but I also wanted to provide a family-type environment for those dancers that moved away from home and may be out in LA on their own pursuing their dream. Currently in North Hollywood, there are really only three big hip-hop companies, so I find it a blessing to be able to be in the hub of the dance industry and still be able to find dancers who are pursuing the flashy lights and fame of the industry while still remaining humble and appreciative and growing with a collective of like-minded individuals. The MOB is something that I feel all dancers need in their lives, because we all need family and we all need that consistent support system so we can all be at our best.
What’s one truth you’ve learned as a creator?
Never doubt yourself. If you truly believe you can do/create something, then go for it and don’t let anyone tell you it’s not possible. It may be very hard to do, but nothing worth having comes easy. Sometimes the weirdest ideas are the most amazing works of art!
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I really just want to take this opportunity to thank anyone who’s ever supported me as a dancer. A lot of people never thought I could do it, and I’ve had a lot of people tell me that dancing is a waste of time or not “a real job” and that I need to do something more serious. But to me, this is life. Dancing is my release. It’s my therapy. It’s the one thing that nobody can take away from me because even without my body, my mind will still allow me to create and express. Dancing has never turned its back on me, and I’ll forever be grateful to have been blessed with this passion. I can only hope everyone in the world can find something in life that makes them feel as happy as dancing makes me. If that were to happen, I think this would become a way better place full of art and entertainment.