Elk County Native Will VanSlander was recently featured in a music video as a dancer for musical artist Ashely Marina.
Marina, who also has Pennsylvania roots, is best known for being featured on the fifteenth season of “America’s Got Talent.” She was able to use the national exposure from the show as a catalyst for a musical career.
Her latest video, Clouds Across the Sun, is featured on Youtube; to see the video visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=S35J63JEN6s.
VanSlander is currently a student at Slippery Rock University as a current dance major, with hopes of enrolling in theater in the upcoming spring semester. VanSlander previously stated, “Overall I try to get in as much training as I can in every area of the performing arts, so that when a door opens for me, I have the skill set to take it on with full force.”
VanSlander’s interest in dance started at a very young age when he attended one of his sister’s dance recitals. He was in the second grade when he watched his sister’s performance at the April School of Dance recital. After seeing her perform a hip hop dance in particular, he decided he wanted to give it a try, according to VanSlander.
VanSlander recalled that the opportunity to be in Marina’s video came about in a pretty unsuspecting way. “After one of my dance classes in college, I was approached by my professor. She told me that she had someone ask her if she had a male dancer for a project, and that was all she knew.
“She told me she could put me in contact if I was interested. I told her yes, and before I knew it, I was learning choreography and not long after that, I was filming the video.”
Marina’s song and video are about a couple that’s going through a rough patch in their relationship. It begins with them fighting over dinner, but as it progresses, they start to work things out. The song being titled “Clouds Across the Sun” is a metaphor for the idea that these problems will pass and things will get better.
Once the video project was set in motion, VanSlander made a trip to Pittsburgh to learn the choreography for the video. He and his dance partner spent hours practicing for the actual shoot beforehand.
“My partner and I spent two to three hours practicing with the choreographer, learning and creating the actual choreography and then another hour solidifying it on our own,” recalled VanSlander.
VanSlander seemed overjoyed at the opportunity to participate in this video. “After all the years of training it’s almost hard to believe that there’s finally something of this caliber with my name associated with it.”
VanSlander stated that he couldn’t have accomplished this task without the help of Lauren and Brandi Mortimer, who were his dance partner and her mother; the choreographer, Miranda Maleski; Jamal Woodson who took care of all the behind the scenes work, and of course Ashley Marina, who created such a beautiful song.