By Anthony J. Machcinski
Youthful, happy and charismatic are words that describe performer Robert Taylor Jr., who taught classes at Visions Dance Studio on Midland Ave. in Kearny on Sept. 7.
Taylor Jr. became well known after his appearance on “So You Think You Can Dance” in the show’s eighth season. He came to Visions Dance Studio to fill in for an instructor who couldn’t come in.
“I had asked one of my new instructors if she could come in, but she couldn’t,” explained Visions owner Toni Olsen. “She knows a lot of top people and she called me and said Robert Taylor Jr. could come in and teach the class. He came in over the summer one day, and everybody had a great time.”
Not only is Taylor a capable dancer, but also he is able to use his own personality in helping the children.
“My connection with kids is the fact that I’m just a big kid myself,” Taylor said. “When I’m looking at them and see them laughing and smiling and they have that promise in their lives, it reminds me of when I was a kid. They motivate me.”
Taylor started dancing at the age of 16 after watching a dance show in high school.
“They were doing all different stuff and then I said to myself, ‘That looks pretty cool.’ Then I took classes. I didn’t do hip-hop at the time, it was just modern dancing.”
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in dance, Taylor joined the group the Amount Boyz, where he learned his hip-hop.
“I first realized (I wanted to be a professional dancer) when I started training with the Amount Boyz and I saw them in a bunch of music videos and thought it was something I could do,” he explained.
As Taylor got older, success started to come his way, such as “So You Think You Can Dance.” As he realized, this later-in-life success does not happen often.
“When I got older and turned 27, 28, I had some doubts here and there. The older I got, however, the more things started to happen to me, which was pretty exciting,” Taylor said. “Usually, it’s the other way around. I’m still dancing and I still feel like a 19-year-old.”
Taylor’s big break came when he was selected for the eighth season of “So You Think You Can Dance.”
“I auditioned quite a few times. It was my fourth attempt to audition,” he said. “They have call times in different cities. I went to Brooklyn and made it to Vegas and six weeks later, that’s when I found out I made the top 20.”
The experience was a highlight of Taylor’s career.
“I was able to take on different things from choreographers,” he said. “They told their stories through dancing. A lot of those stories inspired me to be a better person and improve my skills as a dancer.”
Now that the experience with “So You Think You Can Dance” is over, Taylor looks to continue on the experiences from the show.
“Right now, I’m preparing to do music as a pop solo artist. I’m going to start training in my genre of dance and solidify my popping, locking, weaving, and breaking,” explained Taylor.
The Washington Heights resident currently does not have any set-in-stone aspirations for his future, but rather one broad one that people can carry on in their daily lives.
“I want to entertain the world. To make everyone smile, sing, and dance with me.”