Photo by: Q. Burdette
Dance Mogul: What inspired you to start dancing?
Phil: There are multiple people who inspired me – Fred Astaire, The King And I, Michael Jackson, Aaliyah – but the video that finally made me beg my mom to take me to a dance class was “Baby One More Time”.
Dance Mogul: How did you develop a work ethic to train?
Phil: My very first dance class was with Wade Robson at Millennium Dance Complex. Being in the room with the “elite” of my generation is where I learned the true class taking etiquette and focus. After that first class, I was hooked, I auditioned for the Junior Company that they were building at the time, was accepted into the program and started training 70-80+ hours a week. I owe a lot of my work ethic and respect to class talking to my two teachers Annalisia Simone and Erika Diaz. They were both no-nonsense teachers who instilled that in every one of their dancers.
Phil Collins performing with Lady Gaga
Dance Mogul: When was your big break?
Phil: My first gig was Rihanna at the NRJ Awards. I had just turned 18, was booted out of a scholarship program and had only signed with Clear Talent Group two weeks prior to the audition for this job. I made it to the very end, called my mom crying afterward feeling so honored to have made it that far (I mean I was in a room with Bryan Tanaka, Julius Law, Hamza, Steelo, Flii, Legacy, Moi… TINA LANDON!)…and then waited, and waited, and waited. I kept calling my agency asking if they had heard, until one really late night, my agent calls and was like “Oh hey, you’re going to France with Rihanna by the way”.
Dance Mogul: What have been some of your memorable moments on stage?
Phil: Definitely the Rihanna experience. The Whole Fanny Pak experience on America’s Best Dance Crew. Doing the VMA’s with Lady Gaga as Joe Calderon. My first time entering the SNL soundstage. Choreographing and dancing for Weird Al Yankovich.
Dance Mogul: Based on your experience now what would you tell your younger self?
Phil: DO NOT GET DISCOURAGED! There is a place for everyone in this industry and what you have to offer is SPECIAL!
Dance Mogul: What is it like dancing for major artists on a regular basis?
Phil: Truthfully, my career has never been about the artists I’m performing with, they are people sharing their talent as much as you are a person sharing your talent. BUT! There is literally no better feeling than performing in front of thousands of people. That feeling never gets old.
Dance Mogul: What was it like to perform in big productions in 2016?
Phil: 2016 was a huge year – if I had one word to describe the work I did this year I would use “rewarding”. I was the assistant choreographer and a dancer on season 1 of The Maya & Marty show, which was by far one of my most incredible career moments. Getting to work so closely with comedic geniuses and being able to work next to Mr. James Alsop and watching how he handles choreography situations and directions were truly some of the most invaluable information I have ever received. I carried everything I learned on that job into the other gigs I was on throughout the year. Having that information boosted my confidence by 10, and allowed me to really relish in the opportunities I was being given.
Dance Mogul: Where do you see your dance brand in the next 10yrs and how would you like to help empower the dance community?
Phil: I see my dance brand transitioning into the PR, marketing, and branding realm. While I am a junkie for the performance aspect of the dance world, my true passion hangs in the creation stage. I love conceptualizing themes, building the world around that theme, and creating a movement around a new piece. As I pursue a Communications degree, I realize there are so many ways that companies and dancers themselves are underutilizing their brands. Dance is such a HUGE part of advertising these days, yet we still don’t get the recognition or the career wave that other areas of entertainment have. I’m learning how to create the correct buzz to ensure that a dancer/company stay’s busy and talked about so that the dance community can continue to thrive.
Dance Mogul: What advice do you have for the younger generation of dancers?
Phil: THERE ARE SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES! Los Angeles is not the only place professional dance exists. I moved to NY two years ago, and have worked more on the East Coast than the entire time I was a Los Angeles resident. Also, the international dance market is BOOMING! Asia has SO many performances and teaching opportunities, India has such a craving for western style dance, Europe has their own commercial dance markets, Australia has a massive theater market….you can dance any and everywhere! ALSO – stay in school! I know I know, I was one of those people who just knew I was going to make it in the commercial/professional world, and I am beyond pleased with my successes and being able to cross off all of my bucket list moments, BUT I have always had this desire for an education. Like I had stated above, I see my dance brand moving into the marketing/PR world; now, as I’m closing in on 30, I am finally pursuing this goal. The performance and teaching opportunities are not possible without the behind the scenes team. There would be zero dance jobs without people putting them together and marketing them.
Phil Collins performing with Selena Gomez
Dance Mogul: Is there anyone you would like to thank
Phil: First of all, Mom. There would be no career had she not dropped everything to take me to class and focus all of her attention on my training. Erika Diaz and Annalisia Simone, my dance mom’s, who took this ridiculously uncoordinated teen and gave him a purpose. And Tina Landon/Laurie Ann Gibson who both chewed me out in rehearsals with some of the best information I could have ever received.