While most 21 year olds are working on graduating from college, Kherington Payne is instead working on establishing herself as a dancer. The California native recently was at the University at Buffalo to teach at Xtreme Talent Dance Convention, and set aside time for an interview during her break between classes to talk about her passion for dance and her developing career.
Payne said she started dancing around age two and hasn’t stopped since. “I always loved going to class,” said Payne, who realized she wanted to make dance a career after her senior year of high school.
When she was 18 years old, Payne auditioned for the FOX hit So You Think You Can Dance. “Being a part of the show was amazing just because I learned so much about myself as a person and as a dancer,” she said. “It was the first thing I ever did so that started me into wanting to learn more about the life of dance and having it as a career.” Payne was voted into the top 10 dancers in the show’s fourth season, allowing her to tour the United States and Canada with the nine other finalists.
Not too long after So You Think You Can Dance, Payne traded the television screen for the silver screen when she was cast as “Alice Ellerton” in the 2009 remake of Fame. “That was an awesome learning experience,” she said when asked about her first movie role.
Not only was this Payne’s first time having a role in a movie, this was also her first time acting. “They needed a dancer for the role so I just tried out and it was an amazing journey,” she said, adding that she has since taken acting classes.
“It was a springboard for all different avenues of dance and different career paths that you can choose, and I’m kind of dabbing at every single one,” Payne continued. “I’m enjoying it and loving everything so it’s good.”
Earlier this year Payne also had the chance to work on a reality series for E! on Laurieann Gibson’s series The Dance Scene.
When she’s not auditioning for roles and dance jobs, Payne is teaching classes at studios and at conventions, such as Xtreme. “I feel like kids nowadays take class and it’s all about who has the best style or the best choreography,” she said. “This is really great and really cool and I think that’s a big part of learning, but I just want the kids to have fun and actually learn something in my class, something more than just a combination.”
Payne said she wants to be an imprint in the student’s life and whatever she can give them, they take with them. “I’ll throw certain things at them in class, and hopefully they’ll go on and love the class and have fun with it,” she said. “It’s not a competition out there, it’s fun, it’s just class. They get to learn, have fun and dance. Whatever they take from it I hope they enjoy it and carry it on to their life.”
Payne also said the main piece of advice she took growing up that she applies to her life is that if she really wants something, she has to put the effort and hard work into it. That’s when something will come out of it.
“Whatever it is, you have to put that hard work in it, but have fun along the way while you’re doing it,” she said. “Once it becomes too much work and it’s not fun anymore, I wouldn’t do it. Work really hard!”
Payne is currently teaching a lot and has a few auditions coming up. “I don’t know what’s in store for me, but hopefully it’s something cool,” she said. “In this career you kind of never know!”