While dancing in Justin Bieber's world tour last year, Aubree Storm sometimes got teased about her good-girl behavior.
Fellow dancers nicknamed her "Grandma" because she preferred to stay in and read -- and then get up early and sightsee -- rather than go out to the clubs with everyone after the show.
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The inside scoopWhat are Austin Mahone, Justin Bieber and Will Smith like? Choreographer and dancer Aubree Storm, of Elburn, shares the inside scoop:
Austin Mahone: "He's an absolute joy to work with. That kid wants to be the best he can possibly be. He is always looking to put in a little extra time. He's just a sweetheart."
Justin Bieber: "He was never anything but a perfect gentleman. I didn't spend that much time with him. He enjoyed hanging out with the boys. His fans are very loyal."
Will Smith: He's the one person Storm gets star-struck around. She remembers first meeting him, after being chosen to dance on tour with his daughter, Willow. "When I pulled up in the driveway, Will Smith was standing out there, and he said, 'What's up, Storm?!' By the time I got into the house, everyone knew my name," she said. "They are the nicest family I have ever worked for."
"No one gets to see the entire world like this and I'm pretty lucky," said Storm, who grew up in Elburn. "I just bought a map and put it on my wall, and put pins in all the places I've gone. Just to see the amount of pins and all the different places. ... I'm so thankful for that."
Storm, a St. Charles North High School alumna, has crisscrossed the globe these past few years working as a choreographer and hip-hop dancer for some of the world's biggest teen pop stars.
She's now a contributing choreographer for singer Austin Mahone, traveling with him to every TV appearance, staging his dance moves and making sure the camera angles line up.
"Choreography is not necessarily the dance moves; it's making sure the whole picture looks good," she explained. "Every TV performance you see (of Mahone), I stage."
Storm also toured with Japanese boy band star Jin Akanishi and singer Willow Smith (daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith), plus appeared in all sorts of roles on Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.
Teen heartthrobs, she says, are her specialty.
"I look young. So I tend to get pegged into the Disney Channel genre," said Storm, 28, a 5-foot-2 redhead. "I'm not really comfortable dressing all sexy and stuff. It's not my thing. I'm the polka dot queen. It's always smiles and bright colors ... and I'm fine with that. I'm well-known in the industry for being a 'clean dancer.' I pretty much, to a T, do exactly what I'm told."
She's not only seen the world, but she's seen what life is like for these young superstars. On Bieber's tour, Storm remembers being trapped in a hotel in Mexico City because there were thousands of fans outside. Streets all around the hotel were packed.
One morning during the tour, she got up early and opened her hotel room door to find six female fans in the hallway, ready to take a photo. While Storm was traveling with Bieber in his tour van, screaming fans have slammed their bodies against the moving vehicle.
"Any way they can get one inch closer to him," she said. "The invasion of privacy is unbelievable."
The dance moves she did on Bieber's "Believe" tour are the subject of a new instructional DVD, "Believe Tour Dance Experience," available Aug. 12.
In it, Storm, choreographer Nick Demoura and 11 other tour dancers teach three of the onstage dances, plus talk about the dances and the tour.
Dancing has been the focus of Storm's life since she was kid. Obsessed with Gene Kelly since first grade, she became a star dancer and hip-hop choreographer by the time she got to high school.
"Dance was pretty much everything," Storm said.
She moved to California to pursue a dance career at age 18, even though she knew no one in Hollywood other than her roommate.
It started out rough. Storm took low-paying jobs, like dancing for a 13-year-old rapper, and livening up dance floors at bar mitzvahs, while slowly starting to do commercial and video work.
After seeing the movie "High School Musical," Storm got upset that she didn't know about the audition. That type of movie, and dancing, was exactly what she wanted to do. So she found out who the film's choreographer was and enrolled in dance classes at his studio.
One day, he was watching the class. He pulled Storm aside afterward and invited her to audition for the national stage tour "High School Musical: The Concert -- Extreme Access Pass."
"When I got (the job) ... I got in the car and cried and called my mom," she said, adding that her mom is her best friend.
The "High School Musical" tour proved to be a career launcher. After that, Storm was tapped to appear on shows like "Glee," "America's Got Talent," "Mobbed" and Nickelodeon's "Dance on Sunset." She even danced with Will Ferrell in the movie "Step Brothers."
Looking forward, Storm hopes to segue from dance into writing, producing, show-hosting and acting.
"I've tried to learn a little bit about each part of the industry, so once the time comes that I can't dance anymore, I can say, 'What else can I do?'" she said. "I would like to stay in the industry. I like being part of the entertainment business."
-- Jamie Sotonoff
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