We had the good fortune of connecting with Liyah Carter and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Liyah, why did you pursue a creative career?
I pursued a career in dance because I realized it was what made me the happiest. Growing up dancing, I always loved performing and had a dream of becoming a professional dancer. Just like a lot of artists, I considered if a career in an art field was a financially safe route. When I got to college, I was a business major before switching to Biology to go into the medical field. It had been almost two years of college, where I wasn’t dancing, before registering for a Jazz class at Grossmont College. I learned about the faculty showcase and decided to audition without any expectation. I was cast into four faculty pieces, one being an unknowingly life-changing piece. Being in a class and experiencing the rehearsal process again, I slowly began to regain an old passion of mine. I eventually decided to change my major from Biology to Dance. At the time, I didn’t see a specific path where this new career would take me but, I knew in my heart that it was something I needed to do.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Deciding to start a new career in dance was not easy and it did not start immediately. While dancing at Grossmont College, I was a student of Melissa Adao’s Hip Hop Class. Melissa would provide many opportunities to teach us how to prepare for dancing within the industry, one being a mock audition. The judges’ panel included people highly involved in the dance industry within San Diego, one being a Choreographer/Assistant Supervisor for SeaWorld San Diego’s Entertainment Department. That following summer, I attended SeaWorld’s audition for their first year of Electric Ocean with a few of my friends from Grossmont. During the audition, I, unfortunately, was cut from the Jazz and Hip Hop section. Although I was disappointed, I continued to train and told myself I would reaudition. My professional career as a dancer finally began when I reauditioned the following summer and was cast as a dancer in the inaugural Sesame Street Party Parade and Electric Ocean’s Club Current. Simultaneously, I was a member of Culture Shock San Diego and experienced more challenges. One of the hard lessons I learned in my career is that dance is a never-ending process of growth. Already dancing for over 10 years, before performing with SeaWorld and Culture Shock San Diego, I was unaware of the importance of always being a student and continuing training. Finding myself as a beginner dancer in some dance styles made me realize there was a lot of training I needed to put myself in. As motivation, I made the connection that I grow the most when I’m challenged as a dancer. I created a competition with myself and will always find and apply ways to better myself as a dancer. This past year has brought some challenges within myself and as a dancer, but I continue to remind myself that nothing is ever easy and my hard work will bring me to wherever I need to be.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I think some fun places to see would be Harbor Island, Old Town, and Balboa Park. Harbor Island, in my opinion, give the best view of the San Diego skyline during the day and at night. Old Town and Balboa Park are fun places where you can visit museums and restaurants. Seaport Village is another favorite of mine to walk around, admire the view, eat good food, and ride a carousel. Some of my favorite places to eat and/or drink is Crushed, Breakfast Republic, Baked Bear, American Junkie, and Tacos El Gordo on Broadway.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to everyone who was involved with supporting my passion in dance. To my parents, who would take me to every class, rehearsal, dance convention, and show. To my family, who would travel with me just to see me perform. To the Dance Department of The Governor’s School for the Arts in Norfolk, Virginia for giving me the best opportunity to grow as a dancer. To Grossmont College’s Dance Department, for reminding me why I love to dance. Lastly, to Melissa Adao and Sean Memije, for being the most positively influential mentors I’ve ever had.
(Pom Picture) Julie Bretz (Headshot) Jahdai “Jay-K”Jackson (Behind the Scenes) Bianca Gonzalez (CSSD at Balboa) unknown