Posted on April 15, 2019
We encourage our kids to dare to dream. Ethan Bloem is no exception and, at 17, this Ramona High School junior’s dancing dreams are already coming true.
Before even collecting his diploma, Bloem has reached heights that many aspiring artists can only imagine: the young dancer recently snagged a coveted spot to compete with his hip-hop dance group, Guests of Honor, on Season 3 of NBC’s popular World of Dance, where elite dancers perform for celebrity judges Jennifer Lopez, Derek Hough, and Ne-Yo as they vie for a $1 million grand prize. The team prepared for their moment on stage for months, meeting for evening rehearsals at a parking lot on the UCLA campus that often stretched from 9 or 10pm until 3am. “It was crazy and hectic, but we made it work. It was literally blood, sweat, and tears, all the way through,” recalls Bloem. Taped in October 2018, their episode didn’t air until last month, and though they knew their results, they couldn’t even share that they would be competing until January 2019. And unfortunately, while their scores narrowly kept them from advancing, the experience proved pivotal for Bloem. “It made me realize afterward that dance is something that I want to do,” he says.
That wasn’t always the case. An early introduction to dance at age nine from stepmom Kyrié wasn’t entirely welcome. “At first, I honestly hated it, mainly just because dance at that time was viewed as such a ‘girly’ thing to do, so I was so worried about what people would think,” remembers Bloem. As the years went on, it did more than grow on him. “I think the passion really kicked in at around 14, 15 years old,” he says. “It [became] something that I need to be doing because it makes me feel happy.” Throughout, he’s benefited from the unflagging support of Kyrié and his father Graham, who are well-known in the San Diego community as founders of the nonprofit Shelter to Soldier. “They’re a big part of what I do,” credits Bloem.
Since those early years, dance has become much more than just a diversion. He is co-director of a junior hip-hop dance team, coaching younger ones for exhibitions and competitions. But his roadmap is really to put himself on pace to make this his career. “Between now and the end of my senior year, my goal is to have performed behind at least one major artist at an awards show, for their tour, anything along those lines,” says Bloem. He keeps his goals balanced with his education. “I’ve worked so hard in school and I’ve gotten really good grades my whole life, so I definitely want to go to college. For me, right now, I’m just focused on taking it one step at a time,” he says. Deanna Murphy