Elite Dance Collective

Kinsley Oykhman is a passionate dancer who decided to jump headfirst into her dreams of being a professional dancer at a young age. Finding a love of dance and eventually moving from Calgary to train in Los Angeles, Kinsley calls dance “a part” of her. From formative dance classes with her mom to now training with her idols, Kinsley’s world is dance, and she’s only getting started.

Kinsley got started at YCC Dance Project in Calgary under the direction of Sarah Dolan—previously led by Tanja Rosner who trained singer-songwriter and dancer Tate McRae. It was there that she began taking home big awards—like scoring Top 3 Best Dancers out of 150 dancers in North America at the Dance Awards in Las Vegas in 2021. Kinsley puts her time and effort into dance as an art and a competitive sport, and she has found success as a soloist since she got involved in competitive dance, bringing home awards and scholarships with her hard-earned skills, and it was that success that gave her the confidence to go further with dance and even branch into other areas of entertainment.

We had to get an inside look at Kinsley’s busy world of dance and training and find out how she’s taking her love of dance to new heights.

Showstopper Magazine Online: How did you get started in dance? 

Kinsley Oykhman: My mom put me in my first dance class when I was 18 months old. It was a “mommy-and-me” class and she told me I absolutely loved it. Most of the other kids were shy but I always danced and bounced around when the teacher played music and loved when people watched me! After that, my mom convinced a studio owner to let me, as a 2-year-old join, their unparented ballet class and I have been dancing ever since. I used to line all my princess dolls at the front of the class so they could “watch” me as I take my dance class. 

SMO: What does your average dance day look like? What’s the best part? What’s the hardest?

Kinsley: Right now I train at The Academy at The Brea Space under the direction of Krista and Cory Miller. Last year was the first year of this new program that they opened up to younger aspiring professional dancers. I was one of 20 that they accepted. All of the dancers do online school in the morning and train from 1 pm to 6 pm in all styles of dance Monday-Thursday. We do hip-hop, jazz, technique, ballroom, jazz funk, contemporary, ballet, Pilates on any given day. Usually twice a week I stay until 8 pm for a private training for my solo or extra technique. On Fridays, I train privately to practice my solo, extra conditioning, extra ballet and pointe and acrobatics. Every other weekend I typically travel to a Break The Floor convention/competition where I take another 10-15 hours of classes and compete my solo. 

The best part of my dance days are the amazing teachers and choreographers that I get to work with and learn from. The hardest part is the amount of hours I spend at dance, which means I have to miss out on some friends and family activities. I also really miss my school and school friends. 

Elite Dance Collective

SMO: What made you want to seriously pursue a career in dance at 13? 

Kinsley: Dance has just become a part of me. Each year I push myself to grow as much as I can and each year it has led me to surpass where I expected to be. I am from Canada and started at a small local studio. I worked very hard and got amazing recognition locally which led my mom to find a dance studio that only competed in the US. I started training at this amazing studio in Calgary, Canada called YYC Dance Project and in my first year, there won Top 3 Mini Best Dancer in Vegas at The Dance Awards. This really lit a fire within me making me want to work even harder and find new goals. I heard about this amazing program starting in California and my family agreed to go. At The Academy, I have been exposed to even more choreographers and dance styles and on-camera work and talent agencies and love everything about this world. I was born to dance and born to perform. I feel my happiest when I am expressing myself through dance and dancing for others. 

SMO: What are your favorite styles of dance? How would you describe your signature style?

Kinsley: My favorite styles of dance are lyrical and jazz. I love lyrical because it allows me to tell a story and show emotion through dance. I love how slow and technical it is and how I can express myself the most. I love making people who are watching me feel something. I also love Jazz because I can show my “sassy” side and have so much fun! My signature style is probably emotional lyrical or sassy jazz!

SMO: What is your dream dance job?

Kinsley: I have so many goals in my life and the more I learn and am exposed to, the more I want to do. Right now, my dream dance job would be assisting at an elite dance convention every weekend, dancing in commercials and music videos and landing a dance role on a TV show! I am dreaming very big!!!

SMO: Last year you were accepted into the Academy at The Space TV. What is that like? How has that program shaped you as a dancer?

Kinsley: This was such a dream come true and one I did not know if my family could pull off. Our whole family moved from Canada to California. The Space TV is the most incredible and inspiring place. There is just something that happens inside the dance studio that I can’t explain. There are so many choreographers that I have looked up to my whole life and followed for so long on social media that are now MY teachers. It is like being at a convention every day and each day there is something new. The program has shaped me as a dancer by opening my eyes to what a professional dancer’s life is like and what skills I need to make my dreams come true. They have taught me that it is not only about my dance technique but the whole package, I have learned how to dance for the camera, worked on my acting skills, journaled to grow as a person, gotten a lot more exposure to hip-hop and ballroom and learned how to “brand” myself better. There is still so much more to learn and so much more to grow but the Academy program has been able to expose me to the dance industry in a way a normal dance studio couldn’t. Also, the teachers we have are working dancers and choreographers so the relationships I am making are so important.  

SMO: Your work in dance has also led you to pursue acting and other areas of entertainment. How do those things fit into your dance life?

Kinsley: I have always wanted to act and perform in other ways besides dance but dance always came the most natural to me. I thought it would be best to focus on my training and become the best dancer that I could be before opening the door to other areas of entertainment. This year, with living in California and attending the Academy, it was the perfect time to start taking more acting lessons and look for more opportunities in entertainment. No matter what I end up doing, I just love performing and being in front of an audience!

Elite Dance Collective

SMO: You also dance competitively. What drives you to compete and perform?

Kinsley: I have competed in dance since the age of 6. My first solo I ever did I won first place and overalls for my age group. This really lit a fire in me to keep going as I loved the “win”!, Once I won once I wanted to keep winning. I knew every competition that anyone else could win so I tried to always work harder than anyone else. I practiced my solo every night before bed when I was only 7 and stretched before classes and on my weekends when other kids were playing or resting. With time, I became more and more competitive, but with myself. I always wanted to do better and be better and I don’t know where this drive comes from. When teachers notice me or invite me on stage or ask me to demonstrate it makes me feel so good and rewarded and I want to always make sure I am focused and working hard and always better than I was the day before!

SMO: What’s something you’re excited to accomplish this year?

Kinsley: I recently finished two nationals with the most incredible dancers in the country. I am so proud to say that I placed Top 10 at The Dance Awards and Top 6 at Radix dance which are huge accomplishments for me this season, especially as I was focused more on “industry” training. This coming year I hope to have more opportunities to perform and grow as a dancer and get more exposure to the LA dance scene. I would love to book a job as a dancer also!!!

SMO: What are some dance goals you are working on?

Kinsley: Right now the season just ended and I am about to start a new season as a first year teen dancer. I would love to get a new solo by an amazing well-known choreographer and make it perfect for the stage. My other dance goals are just to train as much as I can and focus on my own growth until some amazing opportunity comes my way! I am open to just seeing where this year takes me!

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Veronica Good has been with Showstopper Magazine since 2016. When she isn't keeping you updated on the latest trends, she is at home with her many pets or probably playing The Sims 4. Veronica has a BA in English and an MA in writing from Coastal Carolina University. She is also a writer of fiction and poetry, and her work can be found in Archarios, Tempo, and Scapegoat.