E. Jae James knows he can dance

Published 5:01 pm Wednesday, July 11, 2012

You may have watched a local dance instructor, E. Jae James, in the televised audition rounds of “So You Think You Can Dance®,” but what you may not realize is that he has made it through to the Vegas portion of the show in Seasons 5, 7 and 9, prior to this year.

“In previous years I have got great feedback and have gone through to Vegas after detouring through the choreography rounds. This year, I went straight through to Vegas and I knew I was solid to have skipped the choreography session,” says James.

Pegged by the show as “a country boy from a small town with lots of bicycles and one Wal-Mart,” he held his own throughout this year’s culling. Producers brought him through both New Orleans and Picayune to film his hometown story.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

James says, “The show found out that I had kept some secrets in my life. They were in the vein of my father was a great baseball player and coach. He had a path set for me that included professional baseball. All I wanted to do was dance.

“For a while I would lie and tell him I was going to baseball practice, when what I was really doing was going to a dance studio for classes. He didn’t know I danced until he went to see my cousin’s recital and much to his surprise, I was in it also. He was very shocked and it took him a while to adjust.”

Over the years the father who had only envisioned the baseball player his son would one day be, came to understand and appreciate the beautifully skilled dancer that his son is.

James pursued his education in dance education, choreography and performance. He minored in counseling. Over the years there was a new relationship which grew between father and son.

“My father gained a lot of respect for me over the years of watching me work hard for what I loved. Over the years, he has become my biggest supporter. He is the one who helped me to purchase my dance studio. This all came out on the show and this is also the reason I chose not to go further in the show than I did.”

James said the time came for him to make a decision to leave his budding studio in Picayune for many months while he competed in the show or to leave the show at that time.

“My heart was in Picayune with my kids in my studio. My dad believed in me and helped support me in the decision to have a studio. I couldn’t let everyone down. Basically it all came down to my studio or the show and I chose my students.”

Today, James continues to honor his commitment to his father and students by teaching older students to teach. He says by the next season of the show he will have everyone in place to allow him to go all of the way through the competition.

James says, “As a dancer you have until the age of 30 to be a premiere performer; afterwards you go on to be an artistic director. I am a fighter and I know I have to show people what I have. This year, I was one of ten who made it straight through to Vegas out of 200 people who went through in my city. The fact that I made it that far was just incredible.”

James says that one of the lessons he brought home from the show was that his dreams are already a reality.

“My kids and I have this mutual inspiration thing going. I am where I want to be, doing what I love and my dreams are already a reality. I could not be happier.”