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updated: 6/15/2012 9:12 AM

Juggling roles keeps Elgin dancer on her toes

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  • Jillian Sellers

    Jillian Sellers

  • "Dancing Queen" at Chicago's Riverfront Theater features choreography by Elgin native Jill Sellers.

    "Dancing Queen" at Chicago's Riverfront Theater features choreography by Elgin native Jill Sellers.

By Brian Singer

In the show "Dancing Queen," Jill Sellers gives new meaning to the term multitasking: She serves as choreographer, dance captain and dancer.

It's just another day at the job for the 25-year-old Elgin native.

"Dancing Queen" is a Broadway-style production featuring music of the 1970s, including the greatest hits of ABBA, a salute to Donna Summers and a song and dance compilation inspired from the movie "Saturday Night Fever." Now at Chicago's Riverfront Theater, it stars "American Idol" finalist David Hernandez and a cast of singers and dancers who showcase many different dancing styles.

"This show has a little bit of everything," Sellers said.

Sellers started dancing around the age of 7. She had been involved with gymnastics and enjoyed the floor routine most of all, which incorporates both gymnastic ability and dancing routine. Then an episode of "Full House," the old ABC sitcom, featured one of the young characters dancing. Sellers decided to give it a try.

She started dancing at the Gould Academy of Arts in Elgin and danced on Larkin High School's poms team. She went off to college at Western Michigan University and then moved to New York.

Being 5 feet 2 inches, Sellers had a natural disadvantage in the field of dance. "I'd see ads that said 'dancers must be at least 5-foot-5 or 5-foot-7 to audition,'" Sellers said. "Sometimes it comes down to things you can't control and you have to have thick skin."

After living in New York for a year, waitressing and auditioning anywhere she could, Sellers finally got a break. A call came from Spirit Productions, which had just cut her at the last audition, to come audition again.

This time, she was offered a contract.

Since then she's been involved with four different shows: "Spirit of Christmas," "Spirit of Broadway," "Hooray for Hollywood" and now "Dancing Queen," which has been staged in years past. For this year's production, she was asked to play more roles -- to be the captain for the dancers, to be a resident choreographer and to dance.

"At first I was a little stressed," Sellers admitted, "but now it's been a smoother ride and a pretty enjoyable experience."

After experiencing so much success so soon, Sellers says that the key to finding work as a performer is more a battle in the mind.

"If you have any fear, it's not going to happen," she said. "You might get 90 'no's' before you finally get a 'yes,' and you have to keep trying."

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