Asia World Media Exclusive Interview
- By Anthony Tran
On the world’s dance stage, NBC’s World of Dance, follows the world’s elite dancers from all over the globe, in one of the most competitive reality dance competition, for a life-altering grand prize of $1 million. Ne-Yo and Derek Hough, are celebrity judges, with Jennifer Lopez serving as both executive producer and judge. Open to soloists, duos, trios and groups, dancers can be talented in any style of dancing, with qualifying events from all around the nation. Competitors of all ages duke it out and battle for a chance to be recognized as “Best in the World” showcasing diverse, innovative and ever evolving dance styles. The series premiered on NBC in May 2017 and has been renewed for a third season, in 2019.
In 2018, Ayden Nguyen, an eight-year-old student at Armstrong Elementary School in Garland, Texas was crowned as Season 2 Champion, along with his dance group “The Lab” beating out nearly sixty other dance acts, on the World of Dance finale on September 12, 2018. Since his win, Nguyen has been getting much attention everywhere he goes, fans asking for pictures and autographs. Contrary to belief, Nguyen does not like all the attention. However, as his dancing attracts sizable attention, he has learned to adjust to fame.
Every performer has a story to tell, where “no dream is too big, no boy too small.” Nguyen’s story began in 2012 when he participated in DFWChild’s 2012 search and went on to sign with the Kim Dawson Agency, and subsequently booked campaigns with Chuck E. Cheese’s, J.C. Penney, and modeled for a 2016 Neiman Marcus Kids Back to School campaign. In between modeling, Nguyen began teaching himself how to dance by watching music videos and then mimicking those moves. At age 5, he started taking professional classes. Nguyen has some impressive dance moves, complete with theatrical expressions and clean, sharp breaking movements.
It was The Lab that reached out to Nguyen, offering him a spot on the World of Dance “Junior Division” where all dancers must be under 17 years of age. Nguyen is the youngest and only Texas-based dancer in the group. Located in the heart of West Covina, California, The Lab Creative Arts Studio is centrally located between Orange County and Los Angeles. The Lab offers classes in dance to bridge the gap between amateur and professional dancers. Dancing in a group, teach the dancers, such as Nguyen, to work together, to bond and to learn life lessons beyond dance.
Nguyen’s dancing style is distinctly “Hip-Hop.” Hip-Hop dancing is a decidedly modern dance, a culture, and art movement that began in the Bronx in New York City during the early 1970s. Hip-Hop has taken the world by storm, a popular form of street dancing consisting of stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, where the beat of the song is made more evident to the audience. Hip-Hop utilize movements such as locking (characterized by consistently freezing, or “locking” while dancing), roboting (an illusionary street dance style, imitating a dancing robot, or mannequin), and popping (based on the technique of quickly contracting and relaxing muscles, causing a jerk in the dancer’s body, referred to as a “pop”) as common themes.
I first met Nguyen when he was 7-year-old, about to prepare for his performance at a local Dallas charity event. Even then, he moved with a dignified swagger with his cool looking, iconic spiky hair, where the front of his hair, was combed straight up. Nguyen’s style is all his own, but he is inspired by many dancers, creators, and choreographers in the industry, including Sean Lew, D-Trix, Eddie Morales, WilldaBeast, Nick DeMoura, Marty Kudelka, Jake Kodish, and many more. He has gone through strenuous training and many competitive dance performances, appearances and worked with many celebrities and companies, including with Justin Bieber, N.E.R.D., Lil Wayne, Chuck E. Cheese’s, J.C. Penney, Belk, Neiman Marcus, Nike, H&M, Nickelodeon, Boy Scouts of America, Hyundai, Adidas, The Lab (million dollar Champion in Season 2 of “NBC’s World Of Dance”), and The Dallas Cowboys Rookie Squad. Nguyen is planning on traveling to Singapore for the 2019 Summer Jam Young Star Showcase where youth dancers are highlighted from around the world. Currently, Nguyen is taking a short break from his performances by focusing on his education and continuing his dance training back in Texas, with an extension into acting and modeling.
Cindy and Darren are the proud parents of four children in the Nguyen’s household. The oldest is Devin Nguyen, who is 19 years old. Ayden is next in line, at 9 years old. Then there is Max, 7 years old, with Kendall, as the youngest, at 3 years old. Today, Cindy cuts a casual figure in an oversized sweater with partially ripped jeans. Cindy admits she is a “momager” managing Ayden’s career while also making sure that her three other children, Devin, Max, and Kendall, is thriving with their own, unique interests. Cindy commented that “the hardest part for Ayden is being the center of attention. Our main priority for Ayden is that he does not miss out on having a normal childhood – going to school, playing with friends/cousins, riding his bike and just being a normal kid – are experiences that he can never get back.”
Cindy recounted the first time she grasped clearly, that her son had incredible talent, was at the Justin Bieber performance at American Airlines Center. At the time, Nguyen was just six years old, but to see her “little boy in this huge arena, dancing with a mega artist, with an audience of over 20,000 people, screaming in excitement, was a surreal experience.” It was that day that Cindy realized how far her son’s talents could take him. Since then, at eight years of age, Nguyen has danced with N.E.R.D. and then danced with Lil Wayne, at nine years old.
Cindy declared “on an average day, Ayden will go to school from about 8 AM to 3 PM. After school, he has some time to enjoy a snack, rest and unwind. Then, it is homework time. In the evening, we usually have dinner as a family. Typically, we have some sort of extracurricular activities during the weekdays – soccer, dance, or tumbling. On other days, we do not have any activities, but we like to have a family night, and we all go to watch a movie.” Nguyen trains on average, 4 to 8 hours a week, less if he is traveling, more if he is preparing for an upcoming performance. He travels to Los Angeles and other cities for training with industry professionals that he may not have access to, here, in Dallas. Cindy said, “in Dallas, there may not be as many opportunities for Ayden so that the constant journeying can be challenging and difficult. We often travel for training, jobs/gigs, and various projects. It does take a toll maintaining a balance between all the hectic schedules. There are so many ups and downs in this industry, but seeing Ayden’s fan base, all the people that support him on his journey and being able to inspire other young people, are what makes it all worthwhile. We appreciate and thank all of them.”
As parents, Cindy and Darren see their children as equally deserving of the opportunity to create their goals and striving to achieve them. Cindy and Darren are engaged parents, yet they understand the importance of encouraging their children to develop decision-making skills. Presently, Nguyen is happiest when he is dancing. However, he has not ruled out being a football player, a chef, a doctor, or a choreographer when he gets older. Cindy is resolute that she and her husband would like “Ayden to continue to push through boundaries, to find his style, discover his niche, and to create his unique identity.” She does not want her son, to feel confined or restricted to dance. Cindy ended on this note, “Ayden can be anything he wants to be, as he has already proven that he can do anything that he puts his mind and his heart into.” Cindy and Darren encourage all their children to follow their dreams and to never give up. Perhaps, living life without limits, all things are possible to those who believe.
Nguyen maintains a YouTube “AydensDanceChannel” with over 2,100 subscribers, along with his Twitter and Instagram account @Ayden_Nguyen, and rounding out with Facebook @ AydenTNguyen. On Nguyen’s various social media pages is where you can find his latest posts, clips of his N.E.R.D. performance at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, along with his appearance on Ellen DeGeneres, in 2018. Nguyen has his eyes on the future. He does not trade his authenticity for approval. He understands that if he stays true to his vision, his dreams, there will be no competition, on stage.
We have great news for Ayden Nguyen’s fans. Ayden will be performing live at Miss Teen and Miss Asia World Competition on Saturday, August 3, 2019 at the Plano Event Center, in Plano, Texas. Miss Teen and Miss Asia World Competition 2019 — 2021 is a 2.0 premier signature event, hosted by Asian American Broadcasting and Asia World Media, featuring Asian women contestants from 15 to 27 years of age. The Competition with scholarships is designed to spur broad public awareness in the rich tapestry of upcoming 21st Century Asian American women, who is a leader to her peer in her quest for academic excellence and in being her ‘PERSONAL BEST’ by identifying positive self-identity, self-confidence, building strength and character, dedicated ‘CHAMPIONS’ for the next generation of culturally diverse young women. For tickets to Miss Teen and Miss Asia World Competition, e-mail AABroadcast7@gmail.com (or) visit Facebook@MAATXPAGEANT.