Juliana Bergstrom is thrilled to be taking her spot on the field at BC Place for the Lions home games this season.
Bergstrom, who grew up in New Westminster, is a member of the Uproar Dance Team that cheers for the BC Lions.
She attended Hume Park and Richard McBride elementary schools, Glenbrook Middle School and New Westminster Secondary.
While Bergstrom now lives in Burnaby, she said she feels a "deep connection" to New West and spends a lot of time in the city, whether it's shopping at the Quay, stopping by Craft Café, taking her mum to the rose garden in Queen's Park or supporting many local businesses.
The Record (NWR) recently connected with Bergstrom via email about her time as a professional dancer and her other career pursuits, including writing and acting. (Our Q&A interview has been edited for length.)
While she had given up a career as a professional dancer when she was in her early 20s, it was while going through a bit of a tough time personally that she thought that bringing dance back into her life would help lift her spirits — and it has.
Not only has the movement involved with being a member of the Uproar Dance Team been a cathartic way to channel her energy, she said she’s also found that being around the other dancers, the music, the players, and the fans has been inspiring.
NWR: When did you start dancing?
Bergstrom: I started dancing when I was six years old at Kirkwood Academy of Performing Arts, where I stayed until graduation. Under the tutelage of Dolores Kirkwood, I completed all of my Royal Academy of Dance Ballet (RAD) exams up to Advanced II, receiving honours marks.
I was a member of the Royal City Youth Ballet company based out of Kirkwood Academy for the same duration. I danced (almost) every role in their production of The Nutcracker, from little mouse and party girl to Clara to the Sugarplum fairy and snow queen.
I also performed with Royal City Musical Theatre in their production of Carousel in the early 2000s. While NWSS has been rebuilt, I’m so grateful that Massey Theatre remains.
NWR: Tell us a little bit about your experience as a professional dancer.
Bergstrom: After I graduated, I attended the SFU dance program but skipped my first day to audition for a cruise ship. My parents were so mad. I got the job, and it conveniently started after my first year of university was done. During that year, I was in the Source Dance Company led by artistic director Joanne Pesusich based out of Vancouver and I performed two contemporary pieces in a live multimedia dance show called Injected put up by renowned Vancouver choreographer Heather Laura Gray.
For my first ship contract, we did a month of rehearsals in Miami, Florida. We boarded the Norwegian Majesty, where we performed our four Broadway-style variety shows every week. The itinerary was Boston to Bermuda, with a relocation cruise through the Caribbean.
My second contract was also with Norwegian cruise lines on their ice-class ship The Marco Polo. We rehearsed in Nashville, Tennessee and joined the ship in Barcelona, Spain. During my year on that ship, we sailed the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea, visiting countries in Europe and Africa then across the Atlantic to South America and did shore landings in Antarctica!
I then did a contract at Disneyland in Anaheim, California as a dancer in one of their annual Christmas shows.
NWR: Why did you give up your career as a professional dancer?
Bergstrom: I had just been cut from the top 100 of So You Think You Can Dance Canada’s first season and was offered another cruise ship contract. While most of my family had always been so supportive of my pursuit of dance — my mum, grandma and sister were my biggest cheerleaders — one family member who I trusted discouraged me from pursuing it further.
NWR: What have you been doing since then?
Bergstrom: I’m a full-time copywriter for an athletic wear company but I’ve have been acting in indie theatre plays and films for the last several years. I’ve produced two short films (one of which I wrote) with my producing partners Keara Barnes and Brenda Whitehall, and managed post-production for a feature-length documentary directed by Brenda Whitehall.
NWR: When and why did you start dancing again?
Bergstrom: During the pandemic I did some online acting and screenwriting classes and a mentorship program with iconic Canadian dancer Kim Gingras, which prompted me to write a short script about a dancer. I shared it with my producing partners, and they encouraged me to make it and star in it. So I started dancing again consistently to get back into shape to play the role.
NWR: What has been your experience been like with the Uproar Dance Team?
Bergstrom: I’m having the best time! It’s a great group of 41 dancers. The choreography is fun and our uniforms are beautiful.
The Uproar leadership team is made of women, which I love. The team manager Alexandra Severyn has been in her role for almost 20 years and is a Feline vet. Our choreographer Dana Dixon is a vet of the team as well, and she danced for the Vancouver Grizzlies in the 90s.
The owner of the BC Lions, Amar Doman, is a big fan of LL Cool J, so he hired him to perform at our home-opener game on June 17th — and we got to dance on the field in front of him! He requested a photo with us after his performance and told us our dancing was great.
NWR: What’s it like to dance in front of the crowds at BC Place?
Bergstrom: This is the biggest audience I’ve ever performed for, so I managed lots of nerves for the first few games. Now that I’m used to it, I love it. It’s so much fun to have an audience that interacts with us. For example, they’ll join in with our cheers, and it’s cool to experience the big emotional reactions of the crowd.
NWR: What’s involved with being on the team?
Bergstrom: We rehearse as a group for three hours once a week. So far, we’ve learned 10 full-length dances that we perform (at) centre field, 17 sideline routines and six cheers. We’re expected to do 10 promotional events during the season to help raise awareness about the team.
We only perform at home games, so we don’t travel with the team, but we’ll get to go to Grey Cup. All the CFL dance teams attend and perform at Grey Cup, regardless of their teams’ standing in the finals.
NWR: Why are you selling tickets to the BC Lions games?
Bergstrom: Part of our contract is to spread awareness about the BC Lions Football Club and sell a minimum of tickets to games. All ticket sales we make go into our fundraising account to take our team to the 110th Grey Cup in Hamilton, Ont.
If you cannot attend a game, but you want to support me, you can buy tickets and transfer them to friends/family/colleagues or donate them to a charity called Kids Up Front who will gift your tickets to deserving kids across the Greater Vancouver Area who love football. This is all done in the ticket portal on the BC Lions site.
NWR: What are your future career plans?
Bergstrom: Continue building my career as a dancer, actor, producer and writer. Eventually I’d love to be a showrunner (the head writer and producer of a TV show).
You can follow Juliana Bergstrom on Instagram (@julianabergstrom) and TikTok (@juliana_bergstrom), or visit her website at www.julianabergstrom.com
Video courtesy of Ben Dextraze of www.vancouvervideographer.ca