At four years old, freshman Camryn Mandelbaum would sit in the back of her older sister’s dance classes — at Tippy Toes School of Dance in Indianapolis — and try to copy complicated dance sequences. Inspired and wanting to follow in her sister footsteps, Mandelbaum joined the same local dance studio and started taking her first ballet classes.
She hated it at first. After multiple temper tantrums, encouragement from her parents and teachers helped Mandelbaum to find her “love for dancing.”
What ensued was a lifetime of dance training and honing her craft at various studios in Indianapolis. After Tippy Toes, Mandelbaum moved on to a studio called Dance Legacy in sixth grade and ended up at Expressenz Dance Center in eighth grade. She remained a member until she graduated from high school in 2018.
That dedication came to fruition last year, Mandelbaum said, when she appeared on season two of NBC’s “World of Dance,” which aired from May to September 2018. Now a dance major at Chapman, Mandelbaum said her stint on the show was “the most amazing thing” she’s been a part of.
Mandelbaum and her teammates — Kendall Wright, Macie Harris, Makenna Blacklidge, Macie Blacklidge, Kylie Mendoza, Maya Palmer and Caroline Moeller — were dancing together at Expressenz Dance Center when a talent producer contacted their dance teacher after seeing a video on YouTube.
“They wanted us to come audition in Chicago,” Mandelbaum said.
At the August 2017 private audition in Chicago the team performed two pieces in front of the “World of Dance” executive producers, then had a formal casting interview with producers.
“That was our first time being interviewed, and as the oldest of the group (at 17 years old), I was labeled the spokesperson. I felt the pressure on me,” Mandelbaum said.
Once Mandelbaum and her team were hired, they moved to Hollywood to start filming the show in January 2018. On the set of “World of Dance” for the first time, Mandelbaum said she found herself surrounded by the very people she used to watch on screen and admire from afar.
“We saw (contestants) Karen y Ricardo perform, and that was the moment where I was like, ‘I can’t believe we’re actually a part of this,’” Mandelbaum said.
On the show, Mandelbaum said she learned to start taking risks, like one of the most memorable dances for Mandelbaum: a piece about teen suicide called “Say Something.”
“The story felt really close to our hearts,” Mandelbaum said.
She said the team all knew someone from high school who had committed suicide.
“Watching Camryn and her group makes me want to cry,” Anika Kojima, a competing dancer from season two of “World of Dance” told The Panther. “They are so elegant and make their turns look so effortless.”
At Chapman, Mandelbaum has delved into different styles of dance. Julianne O’Brien, the chair of Chapman’s Department of Dance, said Mandelbaum’s versatility makes her a strong dancer.
“She picks up movement quickly, moves intelligently and has great technique,” O’Brien said. “She has an open, enthusiastic attitude and commitment to learning.”
Mandelbaum’s dancing has also caught the eye of her classmates.
“(She) is one of the most fine-tuned dancers I know, and she can master any style that is thrown at her, which makes her the ideal dancer to work with,” said freshman dance major Josh Escover, Mandelbaum’s close friend and classmate who takes jazz, ballet and modern dance classes with her.
Despite Mandelbaum’s love for dance, she plans to be a sports psychologist.
But for now Mandelbaum’s goal is simple.
“I just want to dance for as long as I can,” she said.