First Person: Dancer teaches at former home

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Cricket Hamar Keller dances several kinds of dance, including ballet.

Cricket Hamar Keller is a dancer who graduated from the University of California Las Angeles in May. After graduation, Keller, 29, didn’t miss a beat in her rounds of teaching at Los Angeles dance studios and making a trip home to Clovis to teach a workshop at her mother’s dance studio.

Dancing queen: I dance and choreograph ballet, modern dance, jazz, contemporary dance and tap. I love to dance ballet and jazz and I love to choreograph contemporary, jazz and modern dance.

Dancer to choreographer: I fell in love with dance composition. It’s not about technical virtuosity and bells and whistles, but about the love of dance movement. I love what movement can say to someone as oppose to words. Dance says more than words can say.

Making an impact: I’ve gotten involved in art activism by using dance in education programs. I did one about AIDS out in LA. It was touching on a taboo but it helps the community become their own experts. I want to make work that affects people. You can get to that kind of emotional level with dance.

Clovis to L.A.: I moved to L.A. after graduation at age 18 with $1,000 in my pocket and this big Lincoln Town Car. I had no money and 10 roommates, but somehow it all came out.

Dance gigs: I had a show called “Il Circo.” Dancers from Cirque de Soliel played in my show and we toured around the world. They all live in Las Vegas but are from all over the world. It was fun and I expanded my skills. I also danced with Pink once.

Difference in scenery: Living in L.A., I miss the seasons. We don’t have them in L.A. The work ethic and personality of the people in small towns makes it like a completely different world. It keeps me grounded and down to earth.

School of hard knocks: Most people that go to L.A. to become a dancer had daddy’s money to pay for them to live. I had to juggle work, school and auditions. I’d see friends go out to clubs and I’d stay at home because I couldn’t afford to go out. I was bitter about it for a while. Image, clothes and hair has a lot to do with getting a dance job in L.A. I was more interested in the art of the dance.

Longevity: The people who really love to dance stick around. Longevity is key. Now I don’t have to audition to get jobs. People call me. I’ve been very lucky.

— Compiled by CNJ staff writer Liliana Castillo