Brittany Troutt has achieved national recognition for the way she dances, but in listening to her describe her attitude toward her work, it’s clear her success is likely due in equal measure to the way she thinks.
Raised in Juneau, Troutt has been mentally and physically focused on her craft since she was a little girl, and seems to have learned early on that the challenge and discipline of dance was a liberating force, a road to achieving her dream.
“I feel like I’m very fortunate in that way,” she said in a phone interview earlier this week. “I’ve always known what I wanted to do.”
Troutt will be in town next week to lead a dance clinic for kids with the proceeds going toward the HUB After School Program, a project that began last year that is geared toward middle- and high-school age kids. A 2000 JDHS grad, Troutt said she is glad to be working to support the teen activity center, and is looking forward to encouraging local youth to go after what they want — whether that be dance or something else.
“It will be nice to come back and encourage that dream and just let people know that’s it’s possible,” she said.
Troutt is currently dancing with the Knicks City Dancers in New York City, performing as part of a 20-woman team at home games and on tours around the world. Working with the dance team has been a great experience so far, she said, adding that she considers her co-dancers close friends as well as professional peers. Drama queens and other negative influences are weeded out during the selection process, she said.
“The audition process is very lengthy and grueling and the reason for that is they make sure they’re getting not only the best dancers but girls that work well together and have a good work ethic,” she said.
Troutt’s audition came six months after she gave birth to her son, now 19 months, creating an additional physical challenge.
“I had to buckle down and get back in shape,” she said. “I hadn’t danced in eight months — and that’s the longest I had not danced in my whole life.”
Since taking the job she’s managed to balance the demands of home and work, and said chasing after her son provides an additional and constant workout.
“It’s possible to start a family and then continue doing what you love, no matter what it is.”
Troutt started taking dance classes at age four, while the family was based in Washington, D.C., but her mother Helen remembers her daughter quietly dancing by herself in the living room as early as two.
“It was inside of her,” Helen Troutt said.
The Troutt family moved to Juneau when Brittany was in third grade and she began taking classes at the Janice Holst School of Dance. Over the years she also took classes at Juneau Dance Unlimited and in high school joined the dance drill team. The team competed in several national competitions, winning the Miss Dance-Drill UAS championship in 1997. Troutt said the athleticism and discipline of the dance-drill team was a great preparation for her current work for the Knicks dancers.
After graduation, Troutt studied dance that the University of California at Irvine, and then in Sydney Australia. She then settled in Los Angeles and danced with the Los Angeles Clippers for two seasons before relocating to New York.
Troutt said she’s looking forward to her visit to Juneau, where her family is still based, and that she is very supportive of the HUB After School Program and the center in which it is based.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in Juneau,” she said.
The HUB youth center, which houses the after school program, opened last year and is designed to provide “a safe and positive atmosphere for young people that encourages them to succeed.”
The 6,200-square-foot facility includes a large outdoor space, performance stage, lounge area, games — including Xbox 360s, playstations, pool, foosball and ping-pong — iPod listening stations, a gymnasium and a cafe.
During the school year, on-site tutors, some of whom are local teachers, provide homework help, and organizers are working toward developing non-academic mini-courses for teens as well.
Though the HUB was organized through the Juneau Christian Center next to Fred Meyer, it is not a religious facility, Helen Troutt said, rather it is open to everyone. She noted that last year, the facility hosted 95 kids over the course of the school year, only two of whom were from the church’s congregation.
Having raised her kids in Juneau, Helen Troutt got on board with the project because she saw a need for a place for teens, especially during the “gap time” between 3 and 6 p.m., while parents are often still at work.
“Juneau is a great place to raise kids, however we are all fully aware that we have our problems,” she said. “(So we said) ‘let’s do something about this.’”
Support for the construction of the HUB youth center came from the church, local businesses and individuals and included donations from the Rasmuson Foundation and the state of Alaska. The facility was open two days a week last year; organizers hope to expand that this year.
Helen Troutt, who serves on the HUB board and is the fundraising coordinator, was approached about asking her daughter to run the dance clinic to raise money for the facility. Money from the clinic will go toward expanding its hours of operation and other features of the program, such as the mentor projects.
The dance clinic runs from June 28 through 30 and is open to dancers of all levels, ages 8 and up.
As of press time Wednesday, Brittany Troutt was scheduled to appear on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” as part of a comedy skit.
Though she’s used to dancing in front of a live audience, performing on live TV is a bit nerve-wracking, she said. but it’s not something that gets in her way.
“A little bit of nervousness is healthy,” she said. “When I first started dancing professionally it was a dreaded nervous but now it’s just exiting,” she said.
This isn’t her first appearance on Jimmy Fallon but it’s her first as Brittany Troutt; previously she’s appeared as part of the Knicks City Dancers.
Troutt has also danced in film projects, such as “The Curious Case or Benjamin Button” and worked on numerous music projects with such luminaries as Beyonce. In person the powerful star is “calm and sweet,” Troutt said, and well worth emulating in terms of her work ethic.
“It was amazing. She is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met.”
Troutt’s advice for up and coming young dancers?
“Stay in class, go to every single audition you get called on, and learn how to dance in heels. And don’t give up.”
For more on the dance clinic or the HUB After School program, visit thehubasp.org or call 789-0504 or 723-5228.