Celebrities Who Started Their Careers as Dancers

The transition from dancing to other artistic pursuits seems to be a pretty easy one! Take it from these stars, who are among a long list of celebrities who began their careers in dance. They transferred the skills and strength they gained in their many years of dancing to these storied and exciting professional careers!


Paula Abdul

You might know her most recently as a former judge on American Idol, and a skilled singer, choreographer and actress, but her career extended far beyond her most popular roles and songs. Paula got her start as a Laker Girl in 1980. Her first choreography job for a music video came when the Jacksons saw her dancing during a Lakers game! Paula now has several awards to her name for her work in her own musical career, and is a popular judge on So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation.


Jennifer Lopez

Her parents reportedly didn’t think stardom was realistic for a Latina woman when J.Lo was growing up, but she knew she wanted to be a star! Her first role of note was in 1991 as a Fly Girl dancer on the Fox show In Living Color. From there, Jennifer decided to pursue acting, and she has held several roles while also releasing eight studio albums. She is widely regarded as the most influential Hispanic performer in the United States.


Channing Tatum

Channing started out under the dim lights of a local nightclub after he dropped out of Glenville State College. He performed there for eight months, which served as the inspiration for his blockbuster film Magic Mike. Channing’s first role after this was as a dancer in Ricky Martin’s music video for the song “She Bangs.” His first big movie role was for Step Up, which he performed in alongside his future wife, Jenna Dewan. Since then, he has become a critically-acclaimed and extremely popular movie star and producer!


Neve Campbell

Neve is probably best known for her roles that involved no dancing at all – she starred in the 1996 film The Craft, and then in the wildly popular and critically-acclaimed horror movie Scream. But before she transitioned to acting, Neve thought her career was going in a different direction. Neve had trained in classical ballet since age six, and when she was nine, she moved into residence at the National Ballet School of Canada to train and perform. After experiencing several dance-related injuries and a stress-induced nervous breakdown, she began pursuing acting. Her first role was in The Phantom of the Opera when she was 15.


Zoe Saldana

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Zoe began taking dance lessons at the ECOS Espacio de Danza Academy when she was nine, after her family moved to the Dominican Republic. She quickly discovered her passion in ballet, but after several years of training, she realized that she was too ambitious to remain in the corps de ballet, and her feet weren’t suited to long hours in pointe shoes. She moved back to New York, and she began acting in a theater troupe. Her first television role was in the show Law & Order.

Dancing takes strength, coordination and intense perseverance, and these traits are easily transferred to other walks of life. The stories of these celebrities show that dancing can take you places you’ve never imagined!