Elk County native Will VanSlander was recently featured in a music video as a dancer for music artist Ashely Marina.
Marina, who also has roots in Pennsylvania, is best known for appearing on the fifteenth season of “America’s Got Talent.” She was able to use the show’s national exposure as a catalyst for a music career.
VanSlander is currently a student at Slippery Rock University as a current dance major, with hopes of enrolling in theater next spring semester. VanSlander previously said, “Overall, I try to get as much training as possible in all areas of the performing arts, so that when a door opens for me, I have the skills to do it. take full force.”
VanSlander’s interest in dance began at a very young age when he attended one of his sister’s dance recitals. He was in second grade when he watched his sister’s performance at the April School of Dance recital. After seeing her perform a particular hip hop dance, he decided he wanted to give it a try, according to VanSlander.
VanSlander recalled that the opportunity to be in Marina’s video came in a fairly unsuspecting way. “After one of my dance lessons in college, I was approached by my teacher. She told me someone asked her if she had a male dancer for a project, and that was all she knew.
“She told me she could put me in touch if I was interested. I told him yes, and before I knew it, I was learning the choreography and shortly after, I was shooting the video.
Marina’s song and video are about a couple going through a rough patch in their relationship. It starts with an argument over dinner, but as they go, they start to work things out. The song titled “Clouds Across the Sun” is a metaphor for the idea that these issues will pass and things will get better.
Once the video project was launched, VanSlander traveled to Pittsburgh to learn the choreography for the video. He and his dance partner spent hours practicing for the actual shoot beforehand.
“My partner and I spent two to three hours practicing with the choreographer, learning and creating the actual choreography, and then another hour solidifying it on our own,” VanSlander recalls.
VanSlander seemed thrilled at the opportunity to participate in this video. “After all these years of training, it’s almost hard to believe there is finally something of this caliber that my name is associated with.”
VanSlander said he could not have accomplished this task without the help of Lauren and Brandi Mortimer, who were his dance partner and mother; the choreographer, Miranda Maleski; Jamal Woodson who did all the behind the scenes work, and of course Ashley Marina who created such a beautiful song.