Erik Sandoval began dancing at age four, training under many master teachers. He received his ballet training from Lisa Thorngren and Elizabeth Huebner, as well as contemporary instruction from Leona Morimune. He has been a part of Team Millennia under director Kenny Jones, The IV League under director Austin Fernandez, and Academy Of Swag under director Jay Chris Moore over the past few years. During his career with these crews and instructors, he has performed at various competitions such as Tremaine, Showbiz, Showstoppers, Spotlight, Kids Artistic Review, Rainbow Connection, VIBE, Fusion, World of Dance LA, Ultimate Brawl, and Body Rock. In 2009 he created the Smurf Kids dance crew. Smurf Kids is a team consisting of young people that compete across Southern California. They have been placed at first at Max Out and second at Urban Street Jam. Erik also puts on his own charity show called Dancing Upon Injustice where many hip hop crews from the community come to perform for a great cause (World Vision). Dance Mogul Magazine is committed to shining the light on those that are apart of guiding the next generation of superstars. We are honored to showcase Erik, his team, and organizations that are empowering the youth, as we all should be doing.
Dance Mogul: What made you develop a passion for ballet at a young age and what kept you disciplined enough to learn?
Erik Sandoval: I was always interested in learning many styles of dance. Ballet taught me the discipline of my body and structure of movement. I also knew it would be good for me down the road as my career progressed.
Dance Mogul: Were your parents supportive of you?
Erik Sandoval: My parents and grandparents were very supportive in my pursuit of dance as my passion. It was also a good outlet for me growing up.
Dance Mogul: You performed with various crews on many stages, what have been some of our favorite experiences?
Erik Sandoval: I have had many incredible experiences on the stage. My favorite experiences had to be with both Team Millennia and Academy of Swag. My favorite experience with TM was our set at Vibe XVI. We had a tribal set that was really awesome. Academy of Swag at SIO VI was amazing as well. The buck piece was absolutely incredible.
Dance Mogul: Tell us why you created the Smurf Kids?
Erik Sandoval: Growing up I was promised so much from studio teams that never followed through. I wish that there had been a Smurf Kids in my life growing up. Teaching real hip-hop and discipline that will last a lifetime. Another aspect is that I wanted to teach a new generation of dancers. All of my kids are so driven, they have a passion that you rarely see and I want to foster that in them.
Dance Mogul: In what ways do you help empower them for the future not just with dance?
Erik Sandoval: I think that there are a lot of values and future skills that can be taken from Smurf Kids. First and foremost would be responsible. Responsibility for yourself as well as your team. I want them to be disciplined but also humble. They also are empowered to pursue their own goals with all their might. There is nothing out of their reach as long as they put the time and effort into pursuing it.
Dance Mogul: Are their parents involved with you?
Erik Sandoval: Yes, the parents are involved. My parents care about their kids and many of them are incredibly supportive.
Dance Mogul: Tell us about the different dance charities you are involved in?
Erik Sandoval: We are involved with World Vision and Stop Hunger Now. These are charities that are focused on the well being of people all around the world. They help to raise up communities out of poverty and help kids across many different countries. You can also sponsor kids and help them through your donations. We are not involved with any strictly “dance” charities but we do have a global worldview when it comes to helping the impoverished.
Dance Mogul: What advice do you have for young up and coming dancers that want to become professionals?
Erik Sandoval: You can’t go straight to the big time. You have to start with a strong foundation. Become well rounded and stay humble. These have been keys to my success and I think that if young people keep level-headed and stand on a strong foundation they can go incredibly far.
Dance Mogul: Do you feel Dance Mogul Magazine is needed to help empower the next generation of dancer?
Erik Sandoval: I think that Dance Mogul Magazine can really help the next generation of dancers. They can gain a lot of insight by looking at the interviews and learning about people who have been in the community for a long time.
Dance Mogul: Is there anyone you would like to thank for helping you on your journey?Erik Sandoval: First and foremost, God. Elizabeth Huebner if she hadn’t sponsored me I would not have been able to afford dance lessons and would not be where I am today. I would also like to thank my previous directors; Kenny Jones, Jay Chris Moore, and Austin Fernandez. I was also inspired by Toy Box, Leona Morimune, Micheal Jackson. As well as my mother, father, and sister, Xochitl. My friends Chris Zou, Ryan Morris, and my assistant director William Shumaker.