Nanci Anderson, Queen of Pop and Commercial Dance

“What people don’t talk about is that it wasn’t easy,” commercial dancer Nanci Anderson says of her decades-long career, which spans television, film and world tours with nearly every major pop star of the early 2000s, by Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears to Justin Timberlake. But Anderson has experienced the same struggles as countless other aspiring dancers: regaining technique at age 15 after a convention inspired her to pursue dancing professionally, then moving on her own from Fort Worth to Los Angeles shortly after high school. Her tenacity pushed her, made her stand out, and eventually led to success. Now in her 40s, Anderson continues to work as a dancer, teacher and choreographer. (Last year, she was Brooke Lipton’s assistant choreographer on an Emmy-nominated episode of “Lucifer.”) Anderson is also a mother of two, which she describes as “the best show yet.”

Dancing at Britney Spears’ VMA performance of “I’m a Slave 4 U”:

“Brian Friedman and Wade Robson come up to me and say, ‘We have this very good role for you. You’re going to hold the snake, and we’re going to put you 15 feet in the air, and when you come down, you’re going to hand it to Britney before doing the choreography.’ ”

Landing the show:

“LA is full of amazing dancers, and at the auditions everyone is good. It really comes down to how you present yourself and just luck – if you fit the look they are looking for.”

Creating more opportunities:

“There are things that we only think about 20-30 year old dancers doing. It would be nice to see more variety. I still dance really well, I’m still beautiful, and I still like to feel that way.”

The moment that started it all:

“When I was 15, I went to my first dance convention and loved it. I was so engrossed in listening to the teachers, learning the choreography, dancing with everyone to loud music in a room – it was so much fun. I made the decision at that moment. I said, ‘This is what I’m going to do with my life.’

Photo by Michael Higgins.

Remain determined:

“Girls should know I’ve never won anything at a convention, not once. There were 11 year olds who way better at ballet and way better at jazz than I was, so I had a lot of work to do. My mom reminds me that I used to go home crying all the time.”

Back to the tour:

“I chose to dance for Justin Timberlake before there was an audition for the FutureSex/LoveShow Tour. I had never taken [tour choreographer] Marty Kudelka’s class before, and I’d go home every night and rehearse because I was the runt of the bunch. I was playing catch-up again, but it was worth it. Marty’s choreography is so intricate and so musical – there’s nothing like it.”

Creating for the camera:

“I like to tackle most of the choreography first. If it’s for TV or film, you have to know if there will be three cameras or five cameras, and where the camera is going to move so you know where to place your dancers. From there, it becomes collaborative with the camera crew and the director, and a lot of that changes when you get on set.”

Expand your mind:

“I went back to college as an adult to get my degree. When you’re a dancer, you live in a subculture. You eat, breathe and drink, dance, and all your friends are dancers. And that’s great, and I love that, but at the same time, it was really amazing to have my eyes open to a different world.”

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About Banner Leon

Videogames entered his life in the late '80s, at the time of the first meeting with Super Mario Bros, and even today they make it a permanent part, after almost 30 years. Pros and defects: he manages to finish Super Mario Bros in less than 5 minutes but he has never finished Final Fight with a credit ... he's still trying.

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