By Noela Hueso 01/01/2010
If you want proof of Christian Perry’s claim that anyone can learn to dance, look no further than Perry himself. His own journey in movement began when he was a 20-year-old student at Pierce College in Woodland Hills.
An ardent snowboarder, skateboarder and volleyball player, Perry, now 34, got hooked on swing after visiting a dance club with friends. With its hops, jumps and lifts, the high-energy dance style appealed to his athletic nature. “I discovered I had a little knack for it,” Perry says with dry understatement.
Soon he was frequenting swing clubs all over Los Angeles and Orange County, perfecting his moves and impressing fellow dancers with his lively routines. “We’d dance at the Derby in Los Angeles, Alpine Village in Torrance,” he recalls.
“We’d go dance with all the old-timers, the ones that actually did [the dances] back in the day, and take little tips from them.”
After the 1994 Northridge earthquake, serendipity nudged Perry farther along his path. Pierce College was damaged in the quake, forcing its temporary closure, and Perry turned to working full time, discovering “the wonderful world of salsa” in the process. In 1996, he became an instructor for Arthur Murray. It was there that he discovered the joys of other ballroom styles as well.
As dance took over his life, Perry’s focus shifted. In the space of nine years, he got an agent and danced in the highly successful Gap Khaki Swing commercial. That “put me on the map” and led to other film and TV work, he says. Perry went on to take part in dance competitions around the world, move to New York, earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and teach dance in China. His father’s passing brought him back to California in 2004. During that return visit, he auditioned for TLC’s Ballroom Boot Camp and Dancing With the Stars — and nailed both gigs.
In 2008, Perry’s girlfriend and professional dance partner, Annette Nicole, saw her company move from Studio City to Pasadena, so she and Perry decided to move here as well. “We discovered how beautiful Pasadena is and didn’t want to go anywhere else,” Perry says. “I always say it’s the East Coast on the West Coast — the architecture, the old trees, the culture, the art. We said it’s time to set down roots.”
And so they did. In April, Nicole was appointed to the Northwest Commission by the Pasadena City Council. And Perry opened the doors of the Rose City Ballroom.