Jalen Justice: Professional dancer from Sacramento
Local dancer tours with Daddy Yankee in Puerto Rico
When Jalen Tyre Justice was in high school, he had a choice to make: Pursue track and field through college, or chase the dream of a career in dance. He was juggling both at the time, running in the 2011 National Junior Olympics while dancing for studios around Sacramento. Dancing won, and the 22-year-old Justice tours, teaches and taps his days away as a professional dancer.
He’s competed on America’s Got Talent, danced on American Idol, danced with Katy Perry, Snoop Dogg, Ciara, E40—the list keeps growing. Most recently, Justice has been touring with Puerto Rican singer Daddy Yankee. He spent the last year in L.A. and moved back to Sacramento several months ago. He’s taught at Sac Dance Lab, danced at Studio T and other local studios. SN&R caught us with Justice to talk about dancing, growing a brand and his quest to experience as many things as he can.
What’s it like coming back and teaching dance?
Honestly, to be able to teach in Sacramento is something I’ve wanted to do since I started dancing here. I just always knew that we had a good environment and so many good dancers here—and so many great teachers. So I always wanted to be one of those teachers. … I got a lot of experience and I got to share it with a lot of local kids, show them it’s possible to do more through dance than a lot of us believe, you know?
Was there a moment that you knew you wanted to do this much dancing?
The first moment was when I was dancing with my sister …. We would go around to all these different churches and events and perform. And after we did that so many times, I was like, “Yo, this is way more fun. This is something I could see myself doing more with.” I didn’t know how, but I could see doing more.
So I had a moment again when I joined Chapters and we got this job to dance for a car show opening. They flew us out to China and we got to dance in the grand opening for these cars. For me, it was like, I got paid for that, and I got to spend 10 days away from school and do that job. It made me take it even more serious and realize that it’s not going to be a dream anymore, it’s something that’s really tangible. I think that was the real moment, actually.
How do you view choreography?
I love choreographing, honestly. … I wasn’t called to it at first. I definitely didn’t like it. I was like, “I feel awkward. I don’t want to do this.” But over the years, I’ve gotten to know myself, and it becomes more of an expression for me.
What kind of dance are you doing now?
Dancing with Daddy Yankee, we’re doing more of Latin dancing, not ballroom, but more salsa and hip-hop and some jazz. That’s the kind of style we’re doing right now, but when I’m not training and doing that job, I’m tap dancing, I’m doing ballet classes. I’m trying to do ballroom again, so I’m going to try to do that in Sacramento actually.
Is there a day that goes by that you don’t dance?
I can say every single day, yes. I make myself take a break sometimes, like, a day? It doesn’t always last the whole day. For me, I’m not really tired from dancing. All I need is a two-hour, three-hour nap here and there and I’m OK because I’m not used to sleeping a lot. So I dance every single day. It keeps me going.