Montreal Gazette

Beaconsfie­ld dancer channels his inner ‘ Gleek’ on TV series

- MONTREAL GAZETTE For more inf ormation about Ryan Grainger, visit his site at www. ryangraing­ or email ryan. grainger@ live. com. KATHRYN GREEN AWAY

Mom would tell me I should try out, but I never thought in a million years I would actually do it.

tertaining Jane Lynch, who plays acid- tongued cheerleadi­ng coach Sue Sylvester.

“We kept cracking up,” Grainger said. “They had to tell us to stay serious and to stop laughing, but it wasn’t easy. She is so funny.”

Grainger was a competitiv­e swimmer and all- around jock be- fore taking his first hip- hop class at Danse Studio A Montréal when he was 15 years old. He never looked back, embracing the cool urban- dance scene immediatel­y and building his resumé with commercial- dance contracts in Montreal and Toronto.

Grainger was signed by the U. S. talent agency Clear Talent Group before he relocated to Los Angeles. Getting signed, in itself, was a big deal.

“Hundreds of dancers audition to be signed by an agency every year,” Grainger said. “Hundreds show up and the agency might sign three.”

For foreign dancers, signing with an American agency is the first step. Obtaining a working visa also requires hiring a lawyer to compile all the documents — legal and otherwise — necessary for a visa applicatio­n.

Grainger augments his dance income with modelling jobs, but spends the lion’s share of his days training and auditionin­g for dance gigs. Over the course of a typical week, he’ll attend five auditions, some by invitation, others as part of a cattle call — the name given an open audition that can attract hundreds of dancers.

Rejection after rejection is part of the game.

Before hi s t wo- week vi si t home for the holidays, Grainger made it to the final 15 in a field of 250 male dancers trying out for four spots on a Chris Brown tour.

“Rejection obviously takes a toll on you but it is part of the lifestyle,” Grainger said. “You must become immune to it, and remind yourself to stay on the right path and work hard. Opportunit­ies will come your way.”

Grainger’s goals for 2015 and beyond include working in a film or another television series and touring with a big artist.

In the meantime, he has no regrets about leaving the cold weather behind and loves the affordable lifestyle — he can fill his Jeep at an L. A. gas pump for $ 30 — but he does miss family dinners with his five- year- old sister and three- year- old brother back in Beaconsfie­ld. Beaconsfie­ld native Ryan Grainger packed his bags and drove his Jeep due southwest, arriving in Los Angeles on Jan. 1, 2014. The hip- hop dancer had an agent, a three- year working visa with an option to renew and a dream — to forge a career as a commercial dancer.

It’s been a good year. The 22- year- old has been busier than a small dog in a big yard, auditionin­g, modelling and working in music videos, including a featured appearance in pop artist Betty Who’s video Somebody Loves You. But his biggest coup of 2014 was becoming one of the Dalton Academy Warblers in his favourite television show Glee.

Fans of the Fox television series about the travails of a high school glee club are called “Gleeks” and Grainger has been one of those ever since the show debuted five years ago.

“Mom would tell me I should try out, but I never thought in a million years I would actually do it,” Grainger said.

Glee’s sixth and final season debuts with a two- hour episode Jan. 9.

The series focuses on New Directions, a fictional glee club formed by students from William McKinley High School. The club is in a perpetual state of preparing for the next big choir competitio­n and the Dalton Academy Warblers — a private- school glee club — is one of New Directions’ fiercest competitor­s. In between the slick production numbers, the students struggle with the many social and sexual issues faced by teenagers on the brink of young adulthood.

Only the frontman for the War- blers sings, the rest of the glee club, including Grainger, were hired for their dance skills and lip sync the Top 40 heavy repertoire.

The September audition for Glee was held at Paramount Studios, where the show is shot. Thirty male and 50 female dancers were invited to try out for various roles. The dancers were invited to audition based on promotiona­l photos and listed dance experience, but had to prove their dance chops in person. Head choreograp­her Zach Woodlee and assistant choreograp­her Brooke Lipton made the final choice.

“I’m a hip- hop dancer, which means I don’t dance with a partner. For the audition I had to dance with a partner,” Grainger said. “I was a little nervous.”

Grainger has already shot three episodes. During one episode, he did a scene with the highly- en-

 ?? RYA N G R A I NG E R ?? Beaconsfie­ld native Ryan Grainger plays a member of the Dalton Academy Warblers — a glee club — in the final season of Glee.
RYA N G R A I NG E R Beaconsfie­ld native Ryan Grainger plays a member of the Dalton Academy Warblers — a glee club — in the final season of Glee.

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