Austintown native dances with Donny and Marie

By Tracey D’Astolfo

Julie Taylor worked in a myriad of dance roles before landing the spot.

An Austintown native is one of the backup dancers for Donny and Marie Osmond’s Las Vegas show.

Julie Taylor, a 2000 Fitch High School graduate, was selected from an audition pool of more than 200 dancers.

“I got the phone call for the show the next morning while I was at Hawaiian Tropic Zone waiting tales, and I was ecstatic... and more than anything, relieved and so excited to get back on the stage and get paid to do what I love the most,” said Taylor.

Taylor had spent several months looking for employment in Las Vegas in her field — dancing — before getting the job with the Osmond show in May. She worked as a bartainer, which is a dancing bartender, while searching for a professional dancing job.

Taylor grew up in Austintown and did her early dance training at Ballet Western Reserve and at her mother’s dance studio, Steppin Out Dance Center. After graduating from Fitch she attended Point Park University in Pittsburgh, earning an honors degree in dance with a jazz concentration.

Taylor performed in several local productions, including Easy Street Productions’ “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Will Rogers Follies” and “Miracle on Easy Street.”

After college, Taylor worked as a dancer at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va., for a year and then lived in Chicago for a while before accepting a friend’s invitation to visit her in Las Vegas. The one-week vacation turned into four months and Taylor decided to stay.

“I got hired immediately at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel and Casino at Tempo Ultra Lounge,” said Taylor. “Bartending and serving in Las Vegas is truly unique. You see all walks of life out here.”

Taylor also worked as a dancer for Holland America Cruise Lines for a little over a year.

“I spent months auditioning for everything from Cirque Du Soleil to Pussy Cat Dolls to random go-go dancing gigs. I worked odd jobs with the Pussy Cat Dolls at Caesar’s Palace as a go-go dancer in the PCD Pit,” she said. “I worked with Dreamhawk Productions for charity events and conventions at Mandalay Bay... and worked special events for Yahoo, Dr. Pepper and Bally’s Total Fitness.”

Taylor read about the Osmond tryouts on, and auditioned for Barry lather, a choreographer/director who has worked with artists such as Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey and Usher. Taylor said there were about 225 male and female dancers at the auditions, out of which only 10 made the final cut. The show’s dancers consist of four females, four males and two swings to substitute in case of emergency or injury.

Taylor said she met Donny and Marie Osmond after the first week of rehearsals.

“They are two of the nicest people. Donny is very down to earth, genuine and funny... Marie is really funny and is such an intelligent and well-educated women. All through rehearsals [they] joke back and forth like any brother and sister would. It’s such an honor to be sharing a stage with them,” said Taylor, adding “I have to admit I have a little crush on Donny ... just like most other women. He is so handsome and sweet.”

The show ran from July 17 through 23 at MGM Hotel and Casino and was sold out every night, said Taylor. It was featured on “Entertainment Tonight” and “The Insider” television shows. It re-opened at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino on Sept. 9 and was originally slated to run until the end of March 2009, but the hotel recently extended it until October 2010 due to its popularity.

Taylor said the show is family friendly. “The costumes are very tasteful and classy, but still fun and sexy,” she said. “The choreography is a bit of everything including hip hop, Broadway, swing and salsa.”

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