Jessica King is one of several Grand Strand residents to make national TV.
A top-20 finalist from the fourth season of “So You Think You Can Dance?” King said she returns home to Myrtle Beach every summer, and this year, she will lead classes in a contemporary dance workshop Aug. 6-8 at her hometown studio, the Myrtle Beach School of Performing Arts.
Loving her life in Los Angeles, King spoke by phone last week about her next homecoming and her professional work since competing in summer 2008 on the Fox TV series there, which led to a lead dance role in Las Vegas.
Question | As you ready for another trip back to your hometown, how are you reminded of the different lifestyle out west to which you have adjusted?
Answer | I try to come back once a year. ... I’ve really enjoyed the West Coast. ... It’s very fast paced and exciting, and I feel like I’ve connected with a lot of the values and ideas out there.
Q. | What fond memories do you keep from your tenure on “So You Think You Can Dance?” which included Chelsie Hightower, who would later move on to ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars”?
A. | That was four years ago, and this is season nine, so they doubled up one summer. My season also included Stephen “tWitch” Boss, Katie Sheen, Comfort Fedoke and Joshua Allen won that season. My partner was Will Wingfield. ... We’re all just so close. We keep in contact once a week, and we all talk to one another. ... We are really adamant about that. ... We kind of got a story beyond the show. We really are family.
Q. | Do you find yourself watching other dance shows, but with a different outlook and without pressure anymore?
A. | I don’t have cable TV, but honestly, I love all the other dance professionals. “So You Think You Can Dance” and other shows did a great job of putting dance in the forefront ... but part of me ... is happy to see the decline in them. It kind of has been flooded and overdone. All these other shows are making what I did and what others did less exciting and less special. So it kind of leaves our mark in the dance history.
Q. | Moving on to your career on stage, how did your TV exposure helped pave new opportunities and channels for your creativity?
A. | I was in Las Vegas for three years, and I did a show, “La Reve,” which means “The Dream” in French. ... It’s a water show, and I was the lead and in the ballroom. ... It was a combination of dancing, acrobatics and lots of aerial work, and scuba diving and swimming. It’s wild. ... I just got back from Italy for two months, dancing on their version of “American Idol.” They brought back, for their season 11, previous winners. ... Just imagine bringing back Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood and other “American Idol” winners and having them compete again for a grand, supreme title.
Q. | What other artistic bonuses have you earned through your work?
A. | I will be in New York this weekend, performing in the Capezio A.C.E. Awards, a choreography awards show. I was just asked to be in there, and I’m working with some really amazing dancers whom I’ve always admired, getting to work side by side with them. We’ve been in rehearsals all week long. For me, it’s saying “You are one of them,” like I’ve finally arrived.
Q. | So Los Angeles and big-city life have fit with you, and vice versa?
A. | I always felt like Los Angeles was my home. I lived here for four months, after “So You Think You Can Dance?” then I left because I got the job in Las Vegas. It feels right.
Q. | What’s on your dream list for dancing down the road?
A. | Actually, I want to go on tour with Pink. She’s putting a tour together, and I’ve always been a huge fan of hers. I told my agent. I know it sounds crazy. I am trying to work on my aerial stuff for that kind of audition. ... Pink is my big goal.
Q. | How does making time back in your roots in Myrtle Beach, where you learned to dance since age 3, fulfill something extra for your heart?
A. | It feels right, and it’s a partnership, with my home studio, with the director, Christie Karavan. In summertime, I travel and teach. It’s great to give back, too, and see what’s going on in the dance studio, and see what what’s going on with kids, to share with them what life is like as a working dancer. ... I like to develop an intimate education experience in the studio with kids. ... And I visit my dad, see my family and catch up with friends. I told Christie, “I will be in town, and I would love to teach.” So I get a vacation and I get to work, all at the same time.
Q. | How did growing up in Myrtle Beach help prepare you in setting out for the world?
A. | I was born and raised in Myrtle Beach, and I didn’t leave until I was 23, and I’m 27 now. ... Leaving caused me to be more grounded. Being in Myrtle Beach, you’re a big fish in a little pond, so it’s easier to get a bigger head when you’re out there and everybody is good and amazing. ... You understand more clearly what is important and what is not important. ... I like the person I have become since I left. I’ve grown so much since then. I like who I am.
Q. | What other Myrtle Beach things to do await you for your visit?
A. | I probably will do the SkyWheel and go in the ocean again. ... I love to catch up with old faces and spend time. I’m not afraid to tell people where I’m from. Honestly, I feel like there has been a really nice handful of successful people who have come from Myrtle Beach High School ... such as Ramon Sessions in the NBA. ... It’s great because it’s such a small town. It’s cool to be a representative.
Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764.