Our latest issue is out now! today.

Dreaming Big!

A Small Town Dancer’s Rise to Fame
Author: The Drive Magazine
1 month ago
No Comments
Share On

By Hanna Gravelle

“Keep going!” “Believe in yourself!” and “Dreams do come true!” are just a few of the inspirational words that Belle River native, Hannah Gravelle, truly believes in.  

The Windsor-born dancer now calls LA home and has landed an exciting position as a Laker Girl.  When asked about how the 23-year-old made this happen, at such a young age, she happily recalls the many events, competitions, and dance classes leading up to this moment.

Hannah began her extensive dance career at the young age of three. Coming from a family of four girls, Hannah said, “I always wanted to do what my big sister was doing, therefore, as soon as I was old enough, my mom put me in lessons, just like my older sister and I haven’t stopped since.”  Her early dance training began at Nancy Pattison’s Dance World in Windsor. By Grade 4, Hannah recalls moving onto their competitive dance team and remaining there until Grade 10.  

During this time, Hannah competed both independently and with a team.  Some of the many conventions she attended were: Tremaine, DanceMakers Inc., Hollywood Vibe, Hollywood Connection and the list goes on.  She describes these conventions as her, “entire world growing up” and admits that she “absolutely loved performing with my team.”  She loved everything about the convention weekends.  “I loved watching competitions, taking classes, and honestly just everything about these weekends.”

Although she was busy balancing school and competitive dancing, Hannah didn’t stop there.  She also chose to dance on her elementary (St. John the Baptist) and high school’s (St. Anne’s) dance teams.  During her last two years of high school, Hannah transitioned to another studio.  She began taking classes at PURE Academy in Chatham, Ontario. In addition, she also became the captain of her high school dance team.  She continued dancing in college and during summer months, Hannah took drop-in classes and taught at Industry Dance Co. in Windsor.  

With all this dancing, it’s not surprising that Hannah has won multiple awards, trophies, and scholarships along the way.  One of her favourite memories was winning the Tremaine Teen Female Dancer of the Year 2016-2017.  When describing this moment, she was quick to add that this was her “I made it” moment.   This was the moment when she could confidently say that all her hard work and dedication had finally paid off.  Furthermore, this was the moment when she knew she wanted to dance for the rest of her life.  Hannah proudly recalls these moments with such pride, yet at the same time, she has such a humbled outlook on her success. 

Hannah credits the years 2015-2022 as pivotal years in her training because she was part of the Tremaine Performance Program.   During this time, she toured with the dance convention, assisted the faculty, and gained invaluable knowledge from Dance Legend Joe Tremaine and the remainder of the faculty.  Having the realization that she wanted a dance career, made learning from dance professionals even more meaningful.  Hannah says she wanted to learn as much as possible from educators who also made a career from dancing.  She was eager to follow in their footsteps.    

Becoming a Laker Girl was a goal that Hannah claims she manifested while attending college in Los Angeles.  “Last year, around this time actually, I went to my first Lakers game. I saw the Laker Girls perform and said to myself, ‘That’s what I want to do’.”  With this goal in mind, she worked extremely hard for the next few months, as she was about to graduate from Hussain College in Studio, (now owned by AMDA College), with a BFA in Commercial Dance.  During this time, she was also scouted by a dance agency (MSA) and obtained her OPT Visa.  

As fate would have it, in June 2023, Hannah saw the Laker Girls audition flyer on Instagram and immediately knew she had to register.  Hannah describes the lengthy audition process in detail. Her first round of auditions was a self-tape.  She filmed this tape at her old apartment complex in LA.  The beauty of this self-tape was that she filmed on a basketball court that had the Los Angeles Lakers logo right on the court.  After waiting about a week, Hannah received an email with the exciting news that she was being offered a call-back at the in-person audition.  She was beyond excited and nervous, as she did not know what the in-person audition entailed.

During her in-person audition, Hannah was blown away by the amount of talented and beautiful dancers in the room.  She had never experienced this type of audition before and she felt extremely blessed to be selected for this next stage.  Her audition consisted of learning two dances and an improv portion which allowed her to show off her skills and individuality.  Finally, there was an interview where she needed to speak in front of all the other dancers.  Hannah recounts this day as, “One of the most incredible experiences of my life!”

There were about 32 finalists after the in-person audition, Hannah being one of them.  These finalists were then called back for a final day, which consisted of another interview and dance audition.  After this last day, the girls were then told to wait for a call on a certain day between a two-hour window.   It was at this time they could expect a phone call from Jessica Elliott, the Director of the Laker Girls.  

Hannah recalls waiting nervously by her phone.  Her pinch me moment came when she received the call that she was being offered a spot as a Laker Girl for this season.  She immediately called her family (who were also waiting by their phones) and emotionally shared her news. Everyone was overjoyed!  In Hannah’s words, she says, “This was the best day/week/month of my life.”

The life of a Laker Girl is surreal, according to Hannah.  She is proud and honored to represent the entire Los Angeles Lakers organization, cheering for the team in purple and gold.  Her weeks consist of rehearsing for six hours, dancing and cheering at Los Angeles Lakers and G League’s South Bay Lakers home games, and attending community events, Hannah loves attending community events, as she can connect with fans and give back to the community by visiting healthcare facilities, beautifying school playgrounds, supporting walks/runs, teaching Junior Lakers Dancers Clinics and so much more.  She says, “To me, being a Laker Girl is more than just dancing and cheering.  It’s about being a role model in the community and spreading light, joy, and love in the Lakers nation and to the world.”

On the days when rehearsals land on games days, the girls must be prepared.  They set formations for routines during their practices literally a few hours before they perform, therefore the girls must know everyone’s part in every dance.  They rotate and switch parts quite often, thus, they must stay focused and be ready to work.  Hannah doesn’t complain about this work schedule.  She says, “I deeply love what I do, my teammates, and this wonderful organization. I wouldn’t change that for the world.”

With an astounding dance portfolio, it’s not surprising to see how far Hannah has come.  She, however, credits many important people as being influential in her career path, especially her family, including her four dogs. Her parents, without a doubt, were and continue to be her biggest influences.  Without their constant support, encouragement, and guidance, Hannah believes she would not be where she is today, “They inspire me daily to be the best version of myself.”  She credits Mr. Joe Tremaine, and the entire Tremaine Dance faculty for believing in her and helping her pursue her dance career.  Tiffany Maher, a member of the Tremaine Dance faculty, was Hannah’s idol growing up.  Hannah says, “Tiffany is like a big sister to me and has inspired me in more ways than one. Her genuine kindness, humbleness, and unbelievable talent were and still are everything I wanted to be.” Finally, Hannah says, “I also have to thank every single person who has supported my dance journey and believed in me along the way.”

Hearing Hannah’s story will certainly be encouraging to all who are dreaming big.  A small-town girl living out her dreams in LA is a story movies are made about.  When asked about her plans, Hannah is quite honest.  She says, “Right now, with this being my first season as a Laker Girl, I am still taking it all in, day by day.”  She does have a list that she keeps adding to for future possibilities: professional choreographer, aspiring actress, etc.  She says she has many more dreams and goals that she aspires to accomplish, yet for now, she will cherish this experience for as long as she can.  She gives one final honest thought when reflecting on the future.  She says, “Each and every day I feel like I’m dreaming, so once my feet touch the ground again, I’ll let you know!”

Related Posts