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Chuck Maldanado - The Interview

Written by J LA (Runique) on 23 January 2006

chuck maldanado
Chuck Maldanado is one of the elite choreographers and dancers in Los Angeles. Since his big move to Los Angeles he has worked as choreographer and dancer with artist as Ciara, Left Eye, Jennifer Lopez, Kylie Minogue, Blaque, Tamia, Sisqo, Kanye West, Mya, Usher, Pink, Anastasia, Missy Elliot, Ashanti, Ludacris and many many more. Chuck has also appeared in several commercials and movies from Apple I-Pod, You Got Served, Collateral, Honey, From Justin to Kelly, Shark Tale, Garfield, Bewitched just to name a few. 

 We were out in Los Angeles and have talked to Chuck.

DancerZone: Hey Chuck, nice to meet you here in Los Angeles! You have just finished choreographing with Hi-Hat the commercial for Fanta, but we will get back to  your work later. Firstable do you mind to tell us your age?

Chuck Maldanado: I’m probably older than the normal dancer. I started dancing a little bit later.That’s the only what I want to say about it. *smile*

DancerZone: Where did you grow up and where do you live right now?

Chuck Maldanado: I'm originally from New Jersey, but I grew up and lived in Atlanta/Georgia. Later on I moved to Los Angeles where I still live.

DancerZone: Where are your roots?

Chuck Maldanado: Actually I’m Puertorican. My family still live there.

DancerZone: When did you start to dance?

Chuck Maldanado: I started dancing in 1996 when I did a show for the Olympics in Atlanta. From there I started to dance for the Atlanta Hawks Dance Team (NBA) until 1999. I didn’t try to get seriously into the dance business. It happened automatically when I got booked for my first real job by Lisa „Left Eye“ Lopes from TLC and her group called Black (in Europe known as Black Ivery).

DancerZone: What did you do before you have started to dance?

Chuck Maldanado:
I was a High School teacher and I taught Spanish at a High School in Atlanta.

DancerZone: WOW, that’s amazing, you dropped your job as a High School teacher to go for the Dance. How come?

Chuck Maldanado: I've always loved to dance, but I still went to school. After I got my masters at education I’ve started to teach. After teaching 3 years at a High School I met Lisa „Left Eye“ Lopes. She opened kinda the doors for me and I quit my job as a teacher. After that I moved to Los Angeles.

DancerZone: Do you have any professional training in dance?Image

Chuck Maldanado:
Yeah, I do! As soon as I started to dance in 1996 I took everything from Ballet, Jazz, Modern, African, Salsa, Merengue to B-Boying.

DancerZone: How come that you are so open minded for so many dance styles?

Chuck Maldanado:
Cos I understand the importance of being diverse. This allows you to get through a lot of more doors. I don't wanna ever quit a job just because I can't B-Boying, Jazz or even Ballet. It allows me to choreograph more and make more money that way! *laugh*

DancerZone: Do you think it’s possible to live from dancing?

Chuck Maldanado:
I've been doing this for almost 7 years now and I live comfortable. I make way more money now than when I was a High School teacher.

DancerZone: How did you finance your life before you got a professional dancer?

Chuck Maldanado:
I was really blessed. I had one job after the other. As a teacher I made my own money and shortly after that I started to work with Left Eye. Then I started to choreograph for the group Black Ivory. And the good thing about it was that I had three jobs in one group. Brandy was one of the members and I was her teacher. So I was involved as a dancer and a choreographer as well.

DancerZone: Do you manage yourself or do you have an agent?

Chuck Maldanado:
Well, i have an agency "Bloc". But I think one of the key points of being successful is being very organised. I prefer to manage myself and to work hard on it.

DancerZone: What do you think is the reason the payment in the dance business is getting less?

Chuck Maldanado:
It's not really the same thing here in Los Angeles. But if people experience less pays that’s because they allow themselves to dance for people and artists who don't have respect for dancers or choreographers. I just say NO to all those jobs!

DancerZone: Do you think this is going to change one day?

Chuck Maldanado:
No, dancers are hungry for jobs. There are always new dancers coming up and some even compete with the money and not with the skills. I don't see any stop in that! I think dancers have to stick together and say NO until they get paid certain money.

DancerZone: What was your biggest succsess?

Chuck Maldanado:
To come to Los Angeles and be succesfull here. That's it!  Just to be able to do what I love and get paid for it. It’s just great!

DancerZone: What artist did you enjoy to work with most?Image

Chuck Maldanado:
Pink! I was on tour with her and she is just fun! She really cared about her dancers. She was always getting sure that we're happy!

DancerZone: What do you want to do next?

Chuck Maldanado:
As funny as it sounds, movies! I did already 9 of them and I've been really blessed. I really love doing them!

DancerZone: Do you think there is a difference between dancers from „the streets“ and from the school?

Chuck Maldanado:
Yeah, there is a difference! People who come from the street dance from their heart and soul. I love that but I don't say that trained dancers do not dance from their heart, but yes.

DancerZone: What is important for you as a choreographer when you look for new talents?

Chuck Maldanado:
To me, it’s just that I look for someone who looks just like me. As long as you can do what I want you to do. I don't mind if you are from the street or not to pick up choreography is really important to me!

DancerZone: What kind of dancers do you prefer - all-rounder or specialists?

Chuck Maldanado: I prefer people who are all rounded. You shouldn’t limit yourself as a dancer.

DancerZone: Who were your biggest inspirations?

Chuck Maldanado:
My No.1 inspiration was Lisa "Left-Eye" Lopez. At the time I was a High School teacher I took part in a talent show which she was hosting. As she saw what I did with the High School kids who made a dance performance she pulled me to the side and asked me to choreograph for Blaque. She saw something in me that I didn't even see!

DancerZone: Who did support you most in your carrier?

Chuck Maldanado:
I had a lot of support. My parents, they always have been there for me. Left Eye of course and my friends. I've been really blessed being around great people.

DancerZone: What do you think about the attitude of the younger generation?

Chuck Maldanado: I think a lot of them are coming to L.A. with a cokie attitude. They came from the city where they've been the best, but they have to realize they are not the best anymore. Some of them have really to punish them on their attitude. But there is still hope.

DancerZone: What are your favourite dance styles and which one would you like to learn still?

Chuck Maldanado: I like more the Hip-Hop that has a flair of Jazz Dance. The smooth, really clean type of dance. I’ve never taken a Tap class. It’s the only dance style I’ve never taken. If I get a chance to learn Tap Dance I would do that!

DancerZone: What do you think is the dance trend right now?

Chuck Maldanado: I think it’s Krump - founded and created by Lil'C and Tight Eyes. They use it now for commercials, music videos and DVDs.

DancerZone: What do you think is coming next in the world of dance?

Chuck Maldanado:
That for I don't know. But I think it will be in Hip-Hop. Cos it’s more diverse than Ballet. A pirouette is a pirouette - I think Hip-Hop is growing every day.

DancerZone: What do you think about DancerZone?Image

Chuck Maldanado: I think it's a great thing! Dancers need to communicate more with each other. Especially dancers with different dance background - we need more to exchange!

DancerZone: What is your major project right now?

Chuck Maldanado: I’ve just finished choreographing with Hi-Hat a Fanta commercial and I’m doing currently the movie "Dreamgirls" as a dancer.

DancerZone: What is coming next? 

Chuck Maldanado:

I'm choreographing the upcoming movie "Stepping". I'm so excited about that. We gonna use about 40 dancers for that movie! It will be like "You Got Served" just in Stepping.

DancerZone: Do you teach somewhere?

Chuck Maldanado: Yes, I teach at the Debby Raynolds dance studio in North Hollywood Tuesdays at 6-7 p.m.

DancerZone: What would be the next step in your carrier?

Chuck Maldanado:

I just made a transition from being a dancer to a choreographer. I'm planning to become a fulltime choreographer and an artistic director.

DancerZone: Chuck, we are getting to the end of our interview - it was a pleasure to talk to you! If you want to thank someone  - just go for it!

Chuck Maldanado: I wanna thank Jesus for giving me this talent!

More about Chuck Maldanado and ATLAdance (Chuck's Choreographers Group) on

Last Updated on 25 June 2006.
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