Justin Keats on Turning Passion for Dancing into Broadway Profession


His drive is the stuff of dreams. The beauty of Justin's performance competes with how inspiring his personal story of pursuing dancing is. His internal debate of deciding whether pursuing a passion as a career would taint it, is insightful as it is a common concern for people exploring new career options.


Please introduce yourself, including what you do and what you are passionate about.

I'm Justin Keats and I have been passionate about dancing almost my entire life. Currently I am getting to work my dream job as a swing in my second Broadway show. A swing is the ensemble member of a show that covers all the other ensemble members. I currently cover nine people. 


In which situation/ series of events/ moment did you realize your passion?

I've known I've loved dancing since my first dance class when I was seven-years-old. I felt like I had found my place in the world. A little piece of the spotlight. When I decided to be a dance major in college I was concerned that making my passion my career could taint it. That it would lose it's sparkle for me because I would stress about having to get work but every time I get to perform I feel that familiar sensation. The joy is still there after twenty years of dancing and ten years of dancing professionally. It's still the only thing I want to do with my life.


To A,F, postponing your freedom usually means holding off on what you’d prefer to do in order to please others, or follow a “norm”. When/ how did you decide not to postpone your freedom?

I have never been "normal". I haven't ever considered a normal job. Even before I was sure that performing in Musical Theater was what I wanted, I considered being a stunt man. I think though that I always knew I wanted to perform I just didn't know through what medium. Thankfully, I've been surrounded by great people who protected me from the naysayers and encouraged my dreams fueling my desire never to give up. 


What is a setting/ activity/ routine that makes you the most happy? Anything at all. 

I love class. Although dance is my passion it is also my job and so I don't always get to dance in the styles that I want or that am in the mood for but in class it's for me and I get to choose what and how I want to dance and it's not being judged or about booking a job. It's a sacred place that I can dance for me and be acceptably indulgent.


What is your motto to yourself? / What motivates you?

It's a quote actually: "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see it's path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." - Frank Herbert, Dune


Why do you think most people settle for a career or life they don’t love? 

I think it's usually fear. Whether it's fear of failure or fear of letting other's down it shouldn't be the reason you don't try. It's worse not to try than it is to fail. I'd hate to be too old to dance and wish I had at least attempted to make it my career. I'd hate to have live with that kind of regret. 


What simple advice would you give to people hesitant to pursue their interests?

Start small if it scares you. Do it bit by bit until you feel like you can switch over completely. 


What is your favorite quote?


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