We had the good fortune of connecting with Justine Lutz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Justine, what makes you happy? Why?
What makes me happy is a daily question. I think it is always evolving just like the entity a human is. We are all sponges absorbing so much everyday. But I feel the biggest consistency of happiness for me has been traveling. I started traveling for dance at 13 years old. I remember the feeling of true inspiration when I landed in New York City for the first time. The amount of people crammed on a sidewalk. The variety of style each individual exuded. Everyone on a quest. I would look up and the buildings felt like they could touch the clouds. The honking taxis or police sirens. New York City is ruthless. You get ran over if you are too slow. Traveling is just dynamic! It keeps me feeling incredibly small. I love being a constant student. Traveling forces me to be out of my comfort zone. Even though my career in dance is full of risk and uncertainty, traveling challenges my patterns and habits. It’s harder to hide when you travel. A physical home or people that keep me safe is a way I hide in Los Angeles. Of course you can leave a city you have traveled to, but it’s far more exhilarating being lost and overwhelmed. You have to trust yourself. Speaking of patterns and habits as well, traveling keeps me nurturing adaptability and hinders a mundane routine. I personally could never picture myself having a consistent schedule, a 9-5 office job. This is completely to each its own preference! Traveling for work and for pleasure keeps me hungry to adapt and keeps my list of to do’s changing day in and day out. My career has allowed me to travel the world starting at a young age because of this it has carved and refined me in so many ways. It makes me see wider and feel deeper. Nature and cities around the world keep me connected to curiosity. I try everyday to lead with curiosity. I dig all the time. But, traveling helps feed my over analytical brain in a healthy way. I always try to go to a coffeeshop, foodie place, and bar when in a new city. I love talking to locals and just listening. I observe different cultural approaches and interactions. I have had quite a few wake up calls while traveling. Those moments when you think to yourself, “Wow… I am stuck in my cultural way!” And that is ok! It is human. I do think society wants us to stick to a routine and try not to go out of the box. Travel disrupts in the best way possible!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My career is expression through movement. It has always been what makes me feel most free and most in the moment. It is my greatest passion! In Los Angeles, commercial dancing consists of working with music artists through tours, music videos and stage performances. As well as commercials, tv shows, and films. I would say right off the top of my head what sets me apart is my personal style of dancing. I have and will always train my creative/artist brain. Luckily and not always the case, I have booked jobs off of just my freestyle capabilities. Freestyle dancing has little structure and is mainly a feeling and an intention/story to play off of. It’s the playground for me to work at. It’s where I can explore the most! I got to where I am today with the support of my family and friends. Also, I have carved my path by maintaining my integrity, hard work, curiosity and discipline. I was given little. I had to create what I wanted. It is never easy. Dance is a career that is very inconsistent and unsure. It isn’t always the amount of experience and jobs to get you more. There aren’t any promotions/certainties. You have to be very business like. You are your own brand and own product. I feel that only you can create a consistent foundation for yourself with little control over being liked by many. This is where integrity has kept me on my path. I would be lost in the sauce without staying true where I see myself going. I believe the more you refine yourself the more undeniable you are. Nothing too special; nothing too dull. But I think trueness is felt and like bodies are attracted to like bodies. So! What you project, I believe naturally puts you with like minded people. I overcome challenges in many different ways. Being an artist, everything can feel very personal. I have to remind myself not to sit too long in the emotions. I was rejected from four major pop artists world tours because of many other things that wasn’t about my dancing. It was not easy to accept. But, I kept saying the right tour will come for me if I just keep working hard and staying true. I moved into my apartment when I was 20. From the start I have booked spot dates and videos with many different artists like Dua Lipa, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez, Kelly Clarkson. I toured with a contemporary company for two years and toured with Hailee Steinfeld on and off two years. Then at 25 years old, I booked my first major world tour that allowed me to travel the world for two straight years. P!NK Beautiful Trauma World Tour felt so aligned. It’s hard for me to say because its in my nature to not speak so much! But the tour felt so right. I belonged. Everything felt cohesive and balanced. The village of people from top to bottom is just special. Forever grateful! One other big lesson I have learned is that it is best to be around people that celebrate or just down right simply show respect over anything with a title or a fast win. I will always choose a job over another not because of the title or fluff, but the people and the energy of it. My lesson was simply: Quality over the quantity of jobs. I don’t know if that’s more of a lesson or more of a way I decide. It keeps my head straight when an opportunity comes my way.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend was visiting, I would take her to Manhattan beach in the morning and bike around. The smell of salt water and the sound of waves is just lovely. It isn’t as busy as Venice area. Next, we would go to Abbot Kinney Boulevard. I feel like its always a place I come back to. I would probably have us get lunch at Zinque, which is a cute and quaint bistro/winebar. I would have us walk down the boulevard and grab a coffee at Intelligentsia. If we wanted a second cup, (you can never have too many cups of coffee), I would take us to Flowery Project. They have flowers and coffee. The best combination! Flowers = Happiness. Next, I would head to Silverlake area. It’s just the best area to walk and get lost. The area can be very trendy but there are some hidden gems. There are plenty of markets and small boutique shops. My go to Italian restaurant would be Alimento. It is super cozy and small. Ambiance is a priority! Everything I have eaten there has been excellent. After dinner, I would take us to Bar Covel. Hands down best wine bar in the city. It is super dark and super busy all the time. I love it! You can describe what you like and they can give you sips of a few options to pick from. You can even order a half glass. Another great hangout is Bar Badini. And, if it isn’t too late, I would have us go to an ice cream hub. McConnell’s and Wanderlust have some awesome funky selections. What a great day!! Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oof! My family is everything to me! My parents are my rocks! They deserve so much of the credit and recognition in my story! As a little girl, they would stand up for me when I didn’t know I was being bullied or treated wrong. They helped build my thick skin for the gritty dance world. Minnesota dance competitions were incredibly competitive. My parents always told me to just keep my eye on the ball whatever I loved doing. Work hard, believe in yourself, and be a good person and the rest will follow. They supported me 100% with leaving Minnesota and moving to Los Angeles to live my passion out. They wanted me to do what I wanted to do. I am incredibly grateful for that. I have never felt pressure to be anything but me. Even as crazy as that might be! My parents many times help redirect my focus to the things I can control and not get wrapped up with all of the chaos and unknowns. They try to help me pause more often and pay attention to my other interests. Simple things like a cup coffee with a friend, a walk, retail therapy, pottery, painting, etc. I call them almost everyday to bounce back and forth ideas and feelings. I have beaten my head against the wall so many times with so many rejections. They truly listen to the hours of repetitive vomit of words. Especially now being 26, my parents love for each other and our family has given me so much more substance to life! Belonging and true love is so very important. I think most important over career is family, friends, happiness, and love!
Lee Gumbs / Ashley Barker / Thorsten Lamers / Lisa Skarell- Schulman / Denise Nicolay