Local Louisiana teen shines on national dance show

When the FOX reality dancing competition series “So You Think You Can Dance” returns for its weekly episode on June 29, a familiar face from Walker, La will still be a part of the show.

Walker High graduate Ralyn Johnson, 18, advanced to the Top 10 of the competition show’s 17th season last week.

Johnson was first introduced to dancing at age five but admittedly didn’t take it seriously until about five years ago. Her introduction to dancing happened because her mom didn’t want her to play basketball.

“I’ve always wanted to do a dancing show,” Johnson said. “The goal is to be a background dancer for Chris Brown.”

Johnson got her start in dancing with Ashlii Tallo, who co-owns “On Moving Dance Company” with Kaleigh Brandt in Walker.

Johnson is still a member of the dance company where she teaches younger kids once a week at the studio.

“I started teaching Ralyn about 12 years ago,” Tallo said. “Immediately with Ralyn, we saw so much in her. She had so much talent.”

Tallo and Brandt bought the company’s current studio eight years ago where Johnson has formal training in all styles of dance except for ballroom dancing, which was what Johnson had to perform for the first time on SYTYCD.

“It was really hard,” Johnson recalled. “It was totally out of my comfort zone. I didn’t have the confidence that I could do it until the day before the show. I think I overcame that challenge.”

Another challenge the dancer had to overcome was auditioning for the show. A little confidence boost from mom helped do the trick.

“She’s a real good dancer, but a very humble person,” said Ralyn’s mom, Ashley Johnson. “She didn’t think she had the confidence in herself to make it on the show. I kept telling her to go and do it.”

The moment Ralyn found out she had made the show, she was all smiles.

“I found out when we were going to competition,” she said. “It was like 1 a.m. I just screamed.”

She recalled what it was like to perform on the nationally televised show for the first time.

“It was awesome,” she said. “Me and my partner Carter (Williams) had a ton of fun on the dance floor. We had to give each other a pep talk before. It felt so unreal.”

Johnson said the show has been a fun experience and she said she wants to use the experience to gain connections and meet new people in the dancing industry.

Each week on the show, dancers are eliminated either by an at-home viewer vote or by the judges. Johnson admitted waiting to know her fate on the show makes her nervous.

“It’s so nerve-wracking,” she said. “I go in it with a clear head, no negative thoughts. In the moment, you’re just overwhelmed.”

Johnson said she talks with Tallo often and her family flies out for the shows, so she has a piece of home with her most of the time out in Los Angeles. One thing she said surprised her was the community support.

“It means a lot,” she said. “I didn’t know everyone would have my back like this. I’m really thankful.”

“She’s just an incredible human,” Tallo said. “She has no idea even after being on TV how incredible she is. She’s worked for everything she’s done.”

Catch Johnson on SYTYCD June 29 at 8 p.m. CT as she competes to advance to the Top 8.

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