Buvette Masthead

From Canberra to centre stage: How Alex Carson made it as a professional dancer

Molly McLaughlin

Like many teenage girls, Alex Carson dreamed of showbiz.

But unlike the rest of us, she actually made it. After starting dance classes at the age of 11, Alex now works as a professional dancer and has toured the world with Janet Jackson and Gwen Stefani.

“I used to just watch a lot of music videos and dance movies like Honey and You Got Served,” says Alex. “I always knew that I wanted to be some kind of performer… I think I had my heart set on being an actress for a while, and then I wanted to be a singer, so I guess dancing was kind of like a middle ground.”

After trying out jazz classes, Alex found her home in hip-hop at Canberra studio Dance Central.

“I just loved it there and they allowed me to grow a lot as a dancer. My teacher Julie gave me more opportunities as I was growing up, like being in a performance group, a dance crew, then she allowed me to teach and choreograph. I got to learn a lot which really helped as I was trying to step up in the dance world.”

After a period living in Sydney struggling to make ends meet as a dancer, Alex was invited to join The Royal Family, an influential dance crew in New Zealand. It was a life-changing moment, because from there she got the opportunity to audition to dance with Janet Jackson. After a gruelling process, she was offered the job. Unsurprisingly, she jumped on a plane to LA without a second thought.

“Moving to the US was a really huge step that I kind of didn’t really give myself enough time to think about, I just did it, which I’m really happy about because otherwise, I wouldn’t be where I am. I didn’t really know what to expect. Obviously, it was a lot of hard work and I was definitely thrown into the deep end.”

But thanks to her signature determination, Alex soon found her feet and established herself on the international dance scene.

“The Janet tour was my first job as a dancer, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But once we were on the road it was the most rewarding job. I got to dance every night, and then on our days off we were always in a different city and we get to explore. It’s just an amazing lifestyle to have experienced.”

Alex has recently returned to Canberra for both personal and professional reasons. Touring has meant she hasn’t been able to spend as much time with her family as she would have liked over the past few years, and she is also passionate about sharing her skills as a teacher at Dance Central.

“I want to keep coming home and keep passing on my knowledge because I feel like that’s kind of lacking here. I really love teaching and seeing the growth in students. A lot of dancers make it big and don’t come back, so I want to make it known for up-and-coming dancers that it’s actually something that you can do.”

In the future, Alex hopes she will be back on the road as a dancer, which likely means heading back stateside. But for the moment, she is appreciating living in Canberra with her family and taking a breath to reflect on what she has achieved.

“If you had asked me a week before I booked my Janet job what I would be doing, there’s no way I would have said ‘Moving to LA to dance’. The most important thing I learned is to keep pushing through, no matter how far away your goals seem to be. It’s so easy to give up when something doesn’t seem to be going your way, but your opportunity could be right around the corner.”

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Molly McLaughlin

Molly McLaughlin was less than thrilled to move to Canberra a couple of years ago to study Arts and Economics at ANU, but she can confirm the city has grown on her since then. Along with writing for HerCanberra, she spends her time reading, eating noodles and planning her next adventure. More about the Author