Growing up loving the art of dancing, La’Donna was driven by her passion for the arts and pursued her dreams with unyielding determination. As a young dancer, she had a keen eye for detail and envisioned the entire production beyond the eight-counts, including costumes and other elements. 

Sheen had the pleasure to sit down with Charm La’Donna to discuss her career, impact and the future through her centerstage views.

How did you get started in dancing?

It feels like I have always been dancing. I started dance school at 3 and was doing shows by 4 or 5, so I have really early memories of always being onstage and performing and loving every second of it. My mom made sure I went to dance school and even volunteered at one to make sure I could attend.  I did an audition at 10 and was cast in my first music video and it has been a journey ever since.

How was life growing up in Compton, California?

It was not easy, but I did love it (laughs). Compton is a special place, and is forever a part of who I am. The memories I have and lessons I learned there are in every piece I create. Sometimes the influences are subtle, and other times you can clearly see them. I carry Compton with me everywhere.

Is there anyone in your life that inspires you to go hard when you’re on the dance floor? 

My students. My mentees. My family. They all inspire me to do my best work.

What is a feel-good song that always gets you in the mood to dance?  

I like old school stuff, house music, Fatman Scoop, Timbaland. It is less of a specific song but the beat. I love a good high energy beat.

Were there any choreographers that inspired you while growing up?

Fatima Robinson, of course, that’s my mentor.  Alvin Ailey is a huge inspiration, as well as Jasmine Guy and Rich + Tone.

How did LA County High School of Arts prepare you for UCLA? 

The school gave me more things than I can probably list, but mainly it made me hone my work ethic and dedication across the board. I left there feeling ready for my next level of growth.

How did it feel when Madonna asked you to be a background dancer for her tour while you were in high school?

It was life changing, but at the time I was balancing school and auditions, so it didn’t fully hit me until I started traveling the world and got to dance on stage in front of thousands of people. Then the magnitude of what I was doing-dancing for a mega star at the age of 17-really came into perspective. I enjoyed every moment of it.

How did you end up connecting with Kendrick Lamar and what did it feel like working with him?

Through Fatima actually. She connected us and it was an instant friendship and creative connection. Every time we work together, there is a creative synergy that is organic. We have worked together on several projects and always create something that we are proud of.

I know they were both great experiences, but which experiences did you enjoy more, the “DAMN” tour or the 60th Annual Grammy Awards?

The GRAMMYS was an amazing experience, but I have to say the DAMN tour because it was a longer and more dynamic experience.  I got to travel more and refine elements along the way. The experience allowed me to grow and stretch as a dancer and choreographer.

What has been your favorite music video to create choreography for and why?

That answer can change depending on when you ask (laughs). But if we are going with recent projects, I’d say Meghan (Trainor)’s ‘Mother’ music video. She is a friend and we have worked together for years, but this was a shift in our creative process. I was not only involved in the choreography, but I also directed the video, and directing is a passion for me. Being able to bring her vision to life was really special. It was one of the best experiences I have had on a music video set.

How much did you enjoy being the solo choreographer for The Weeknd’s Superbowl performance and how did it change your life?

Wow. That experience is forever ingrained in me because it was incredibly unique. It was all done during the pandemic, so we did most of the rehearsals via zoom. I love challenges, and that was definitely one. It was not typical in any sense. But even with rehearsing in different places, it came together perfectly.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and was able to employ over 200 dancers while being a part of creating a legendary Super Bowl halftime show.

If you could choreograph any artist(s) who would be it and why?

Good question. I would like to choreograph some of the greats like Michael Jackson, he is the GOAT. And Josephine Baker would have been incredible. Unfortunately, they are no longer with us, but they would have been at the top of my list.

If you’d like to tell your fans or readers anything else, what would it be?

Live life…dream big. You are only a failure if you never start.

Photo Credits: Claudio Robles