Don’t challenge Huge’s solutions architect Josh Feldman to a dance-off, because he will most definitely kick your ass. Before Feldman entered the advertising world he was a professional dancer. Feldman started dancing at a very early age and studied everything from jazz, to tap, to ballet, and hip hop. He began performing professionally in commercials, TV shows and movies by age 10 and into his early 20s until he began work at Huge. Feldman took time with Digiday to talk about his dance career and his shift into advertising.
What drew you to dance in the first place?
My older sister was very involved in the dance community, as well as my family. She competed and danced professionally for most of her life before entering the public school system as an educator working to bring the arts more to mainstream study. For me it was about the way that I felt when dancing and the amazing people that became family, and people who I’ve had the pleasure to work with. There is something truly amazing about the art of movement, it’s extremely captivating.
What made you decide to do it competitively and then professionally?
The studio that I was trained at, Performing Dance Arts, is a competitive and recreational studio. My time there was in their competitive program so my participation was expected, although it was still something I chose. I studied under Danny and Lisa Poland and Debbie Noce. Dancing professionally was just something which sort of happened, and once it happened it was something I wanted to continue doing.
What are some of your favorite moments/gigs from your professional dancing career?
My favorite gig would have to be the major motion picture Hairspray. It’s an interesting story because when it came around I was no longer dancing, I was in my last year of university. I knew, though, that this would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a dancer. The cast was unbelievable. So I called the casting agent, who I have worked with before, and begged her to let me audition for it. After much convincing she allowed me to come. I went and booked the job the next day. I would have to say that dancing along side John Travolta was the highlight of my career.
What’s the best and worst part of being a professional dancer?
The best part of being a professional dancer is the people you get to work with, the places you get to go, and the fact that you get to live your life doing something you love. Movement as work is a gift and something that is inspiring and invigorating. I would say the worst part of being a professional dancer is fighting for being treated correctly and having to wait for paychecks.
What made you decide to leave the professional dance world for the advertising world?
After high school my plan was to move to LA and continue my dance career, but my parents were pretty adamant for me to at least explore the idea of higher education. I didn’t have much interest, there were no programs at the time I felt excited about. I did agree to go to the university fair with my father and by chance someone handed me a plain piece of paper about a new Honors BFA, which I was actually interested in. The program was the York Sheridan Program in Design. It was an extremely hard program to get into and had a fairly extensive application process. I agreed to give it a shot, it was the only program I applied to. After an entrance essay, application questionnaire, portfolio review, and interview I was offered a scholarship to the program. With that in hand I could not turn it down, and that was the moment I really left the dance world behind. In my last year of university, just before I got my degree, Huge offered me an opportunity to move to New York and work for an incredibly fast growing company. Once again I felt like this was an opportunity I could not pass up. I was on vacation at the time, so my mother and sister packed up my room and once I landed back in Toronto we left straight from the airport to head to New York.
What is the best and worst part of being in advertising?
I love advertising. I enjoy being creative, innovating, and constantly expanding my knowledge and skill. I would not say that there is a “worst” part but rather a challenging part. And that challenging part is the ever-changing industry and the massive amount of competition going on. Me personally, I love competition, but not so many people do. You have to be quick on your toes in this industry because you can get left behind very easily.
Do you miss being a professional dancer? Do you still dance in your spare time?
I miss it everyday. And most of my friends are very active in the industry so I am always surrounded by it. I don’t really have a lot of spare time, between my job at Huge, some startups that I am a part of, my family, friends, and dogs, there really isn’t much time for anything else. However, once in a blue moon two of my very talented friends, Craig Hollamon and Lindsey Blaufarb, let me take class when they teach.
Dancing with the Stars or The Pitch?
I’m not a reality television fan and I actually don’t watch either of those shows. But my dad loves them so I am sure he’d have a good answer.