Amanda Robinson (27) is a professional dancer, model, and fitness trainer in the New York City metropolitan area. She has made several television and film appearances including roles with actress Amy Schumer in the movie, Trainwreck and Will Smith on The Tonight Show, a performance on Saturday Night Live, and the lead role in the music video to R. Kelly’s song, “Cookie.” Robinson, who specializes in all styles of dance, has also been casted in theater performances with the School of American Ballet and served as a member of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets’ dance team (Brooklynettes) from 2011-2016, including two years as captain.
Amanda discusses her experiences as a dancer, how she prepares mentally for performances, and the importance of health and positive body image.
Q. How did you get into dancing?
A. I’ve been in dance since I was 3 years old, so 24 years now. As a kid, I had a lot of energy and would always be running around, so my mom put me into a recreational ballet class at the public library. Then from there, I just fell in love with it.
Q. Describe your experience dancing with the Brooklynettes.
A. It was an amazing five years. It was exciting because we performed at all of the home games, but the most fun part was when we got to travel. The NBA has become so global now. I’ve been all over the world: London, Spain, Italy, Turkey, China three times, Singapore, Brazil twice, Jamaica, and Paris. If I didn’t have this opportunity, I don’t think I would’ve even traveled out of the country. So that was a lot of fun. Another thing we did that was really cool was trampoline dunking, which is how we got a lot of those overseas opportunities. Most people don’t ever see females dunking, but we really prided ourselves in being an athletic dance team.
Q. Describe your role as a fitness trainer.
A. I’m a trainer at a boutique fitness studio called Local Barre in Hoboken (NJ). I teach barre, which is a combination of yoga, Pilates and ballet. People don’t realize how rigorous and tough dance is on your body. You’re working everything. You’re getting your cardio in and working all of your muscles. It’s basically circuit training.
After college, I became more conscious of living a healthy lifestyle. Diabetes and hypertension both run in my family, so trying to be preventative now is big for me. If I can share that wealth of knowledge with other people, which I do with my clients and in my classes, it can be rewarding. I help change their lives and they help me, too. I learn a lot from them.
Q. What advice would you give to anyone who is trying to get into better physical shape and live a healthier lifestyle?
A. Anyone trying to live a healthier lifestyle should just do it because they have nothing to lose. It’s definitely not a journey you want to take alone. There’s going to be awesome days and then some harder days, but that’s when it’s important to use your resources. Do some research about what you want to accomplish, write down your goals, and connect with people that can help you develop a plan for success. There’s so many fitness and healthy living networks out there. Join one and make it happen! I’m always here too, if anyone needs help.
Q. What has been the biggest challenge of your career so far?
A. I guess the biggest challenge would just be dealing with rejection on a regular basis. Not that it’s the end of the world but when you don’t get something, you’re obviously going to be hard on yourself and wonder what you could’ve done differently. You just can’t let it tear you apart. The industry is tough because you could come out of an audition feeling great about it and then they may say they’re looking for something completely different. It’s just the name of the game.
Another challenge is dealing with the concept of having a healthy body image. As females in the dance industry, I think we are over-sexualized a lot of the time. One thing I’ve learned is that you have to take pride in your craft without letting anyone devalue you. So it’s about trying to find the balance of feeling sexy and confident, but still staying true to yourself.
I’ve witnessed so many instances of women struggling, but when I look at them I see a great body. They’re beautiful inside and out. My step-sister suffered from an eating disorder when I was just starting college; She was anorexic and bulimic. So it’s something that’s very close and personal to me. No one should ever feel so down on themselves. But I think finding that self-acceptance is a difficult challenge, especially as a woman.
Q. What are some of the best memories and accomplishments you’ve had so far in your career?
A. I think the biggest accomplishment for myself as a dancer was being on the cover of Dance Spirit magazine because I used to read it when I was a little girl. That was a dream come true. And of course being in my first movie, Trainwreck. We were on set for like 18 hours a day, but that was one of the most fun experiences of my life.
Also, going to the NBA All-Star game in Toronto was the best. They choose one representative from each team. We were there for a week, but all the girls became really tight. And while we were performing at the opening ceremony, Drake came onto the stage! So we got to perform with him.
Q. How do you prepare for performances?
A. I prepare for performances by first trying to relax. I close my eyes and envision myself doing the performance with detailed precision. It’s important to tell yourself, “You aren’t going to mess up, you got this, and it’s time to work it!”
Prepping for a performance is always a crazy mental game. It’s like the calm before the storm. Breathe and then get ready to give it your all! Whether you mess up or have the best show of your life, it’s important to just be present and enjoy every second.
Q. What is your favorite part of what you do?
A. My favorite part of what I do is being able to give back. We live in a world consumed by media and serious pressure to live a “perfect, normal” life, but we all know that’s not real. If in my teaching, dancing, or fitness lifestyle, I can get people to disconnect from the troubles of their outside world, I’ve done my job. Whether it’s one individual or an entire community, I feel good knowing I’ve done my part to leave an impression on them rather than leaving people behind.
Q. What would be your dream performance?
A. My dream would be to go on an international tour with Chris Brown or Justin Bieber. I love how they value dancers as true artists.