The lights went up, a sold-out crowd of 16,000 screaming fans rose to their feet and Bensenville native Amy Lynn Miles took the stage.
Miles, 22, is one of the four female dancers who performs with Ricky Martin on his current world tour, "M.A.S. Música, Alma Sexo."
Where you can see Amy Lynn MilesŸ The Ricky Martin "M.A.S. Música, Alma Sexo" tour: www.rickymartinmusic.com/Media/Videos (click on the "Behind the Scenes with the Dancers P.2" video)
Ÿ Death Cab for Cutie, "You Are a Tourist": www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkk5wViJo-I
The tour's opening night in Martin's native Puerto Rico was a night Miles will never forget.
"Before the curtain went up, I was, like, 'OK. Let's do this.' But when I looked out to the crowd, my heart just sank. I had to calm myself down because I was really nervous," said the Fenton High School alumnus. "It was one of the most surreal things I've ever experienced. You just hear the roar of the crowd and there are all of these lights and flashing cameras. ... There's not a night that goes by that I don't get nervous still."
That includes the April night when the tour came to the Allstate Arena in Rosemont. Her parents, Jack and Jill Miles of Bensenville, joined 20 of her friends and former dance teachers in the crowd.
Like any parents who've spent countless hours (and dollars) on dance lessons and recitals, the Mileses had tears in their eyes seeing their daughter perform in front of thousands of people.
"When I saw her onstage that night, it was the best moment of my life," said her father, Jack.
"I was pretty misty-eyed and very proud. It was like, she really hit the big time here," her mother added.
Amy Lynn Miles, whose stage name is "Amy Lynn," has been saying "I want to be a dancer when I grow up" since she was in third grade.
Her earliest recital memories are from the Dance Corner and Gotta Dance dance studios in Addison. Between ages 10 and 18, she danced competitively with Perseverance Dance Company in Roselle. The schedule was so hectic, she didn't have time to join Fenton's Orchesis.
After graduating high school, Miles spent seven months dancing on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship.
When the contract was up, Miles came home and dropped a bombshell on her parents: she wanted to move to Los Angeles, share an apartment with another dancer she knew, and become a star.
While they knew she had natural talent, Jack and Jill Miles knew it'd be difficult for their 18-year-old daughter to succeed in L.A.'s ultracompetitive dance world and they privately feared she might fail. But they nervously agreed to let her give it a shot.
"A dancer's life is at this age. She's gotta do what she's gotta do now," her mother, Jill, recalls thinking. "She's got the courage to do it, so I have to let her try."
As her father drove Amy Lynn from Bensenville to Los Angeles, he had a heart-to-heart talk with his beautiful, 5-foot-11-inch teenage daughter, trying to warn her of the dangers and pitfalls of the real world.
"I gave her the talk as we were going through the last group of mountains. I said, 'Every guy's a jerk. Don't listen to what they tell you. And you're going to find the creeps of all creeps out there,'" he said, laughing.
Amy Lynn quickly landed work, teaching dance, appearing in commercials, and doing shows (including Debbie Reynolds' show). In January, she was among hundreds of dancers trying out for a spot on Ricky Martin's tour. After a grueling 11-hour audition, she was one of just two dancers chosen.
"She had to be trained to be more seductive onstage, because one costume is leather and a whip," her father said. "I was glad to hear she had to be trained for that."
In April, Miles danced in Death Cab for Cutie's video, "You Are a Tourist," which was shot in one take.
Dancing with Ricky Martin's tour is exciting and exhausting, and it'll allow Miles to travel the world this summer and learn some Spanish (the language in which many of Martin's songs are sung). Her favorite song to dance to onstage is Martin's biggest U.S. pop hit, "Livin' La Vida Loca."
"The crowd goes so nuts. It's so fun," Miles said, adding that she hopes more concert tours are in her future. "It's the most amazing experience of my life."
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