I was able to grab a quick interview with the man himself, Richy Squirrel Jackson, whose new reality television show Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition hitting Lifetime TV October 9 promises to be full of high-kicks and even higher drama. Richy is the man behind the brilliant choreography of Lady Gaga and has worked dancing alongside many a star including the amazing Laurianne Gibson. Richy perches on the judge’s pew with Pussycat Dolls creator Robin Antin and Dance Moms maven Abby Lee Miller for television’s latest dance competition show. We can’t wait to watch the magic unfold.
Anything that has the words reality or Abby Lee Miller in the description can be assumed to be chock full of tears, cheers and jeers. Not everyone agrees with the way that dance floor ringmaster Abby Lee Miller from Dance Moms (on the same network) handles her students and performers. It’s very tough love. Take it or leave it. With the stage comes crazy “stage moms” and in AUDC. I feel certain they will be in brute force wanting their little Mischa or Giselle to leap to the top as quickly as possible. Cross Abby’s tell-it-like-it-is-her-way-or-the-highway temperament and fame hungry young performers driven by their mom and sparks will create fireworks of pure guilty pleasure television. Setting the DVR now!
Here’s what cute and cuddly Richy Squirrel had to say about a taste of recent fame, his new show on Lifetime TV and what we viewers can expect from the surefire reality hit he’s poured his heart and soul into making happen! Because of strict confidentiality clauses and contracts, he’s quite limited in what he can say regarding certain aspects of his professional career. I respect that. I admit that I don’t like it, but I can respect it. We want to know it all! Here’s the talented one telling it like it is in his words…
Steven Michael - Care to share an early career moment that made you the performer you are today?
Richy Squirrel Jackson – “When I first touched down in L.A., I can remember immediately taking dance classes because that was the thing to do. Soon after, I noticed that my personal dance style and approach to choreography began to change and I began to perform like everyone else. So I stopped taking classes and continued to work on myself as a dancer/performer and this led me to feel more confident in what “I” bring to the world of dance as a performer.”
When the spotlight is off, where is Richie and what is he doing? What’s your off-time like and who is around you?
“When the spotlight is off… Richy is definitely checking out a movie, relaxing at home, spending time with friends or doing absolutely nothing. This business is 24/7, so off time is precious and in that sense doing less is so much more for me. Weekends aren’t really weekends and holidays become just another name for a day.”
Do people recognize you on the street and what’s that like for you?
“Yes people recognize me on the streets and for me it’s great! I take pictures, get asked questions about jobs, people dance in front of me or they just shout out “5-6-7-8,” Ha- Ha! It’s always a good time for a minute or two out of my day!”
We were heavily involved with the dance workshop circuit when I was a teen. Did you do the dance competitions when you were younger like Tremaine and Showstopper? Is Abby’s new show like that? What can we expect this first season?
“When I was younger I was in a dance group and I choreographed the local cheerleading team. Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition is more like her own version of competitions that actually take place in the world of competitive dance. It takes a brand new direction from where Dance Moms began with the kids competing individually for the chance at $100,000 as well as a prized scholarship to the Joffrey School of Ballet in NYC. This really creates a competition unlike any other. You’ll see the struggles and triumphs throughout the season as well as what it takes to be the last one standing on the stage… more than you realized!”
After working with Abby on AUDC… How do you feel about her teaching methods that are portrayed on Dance Moms? Do you feel the cameras portray her genuinely and do you agree with her way of handling her girls on TV?
“After working on AUDC I realize that Abby’s teaching methods are good-old-fashion tough love. Dance Moms portrays her just as she is, only it’s hard to understand when you see these young children. Abby’s methods are much like that of a coach of a sports team and though it isn’t the way I may handle situations, the outcome is still great! I respect and have much love for Abby!”
I agree with you on the aspect that Abby wants the most out of her girls. Though it’s not anything that I’m familiar with in my dance training. Are you able to take or teach dance classes with you busy schedule? I live in Palm Springs and unfortunatley there’s limited resources unless you drive to L.A. or take Zumba. I miss it but am choreographing a new artist for Gay Pride and competing for a male entertainer title in March so I do what I can do. What’s you favorite style of dance?
“My schedule has become very busy. I have little time even for myself. I’ve always felt that booking a job, to work for me as a dancer on any of my projects is the best class you can get. You get to learn, you get to dance, and… you get paid!”
Do you find downfalls of doing reality television? Any invasion of privacy issues you deal with? Just curious.
“I don’t find any downfalls in doing reality television. I actually really enjoy doing reality TV simply because all you have to be is “you.” There are no scripts or characters to play. It just empowers you to be your true self and to be confident in you who are and what you have to say. Make wise choices.”
What makes you happiest ever?
“I am truly happiest when I’ve completed choreography for a live performance, video, etc. and see that my vision for the piece was well received by not just the artist but those who are attached to the project as well and more importantly, the artists’ fans.”
What can you tell me what I didn’t ask you?
“I love choreographing and being a visionary. I’m so happy and grateful that I have been able to turn my passion into a career. Never ever give up on your dreams!”
I want to send a big hug out to Richy for being part of my domain and taking a few minutes to share his life with us! Loved his answers and amazing wicked talents. Catch Ricky Squirrel Jackson on Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition on Lifetime TV October 9 or catch him on his Twitter or Facebook pages!
And KEEP DANCING!