Krystal Ellsworth has danced on stage with the biggest names in music, starred in a feature film, and is awaiting release of her latest project — Lethal Love Letter, a film shot in 14 days in the heat of a pandemic.
“I knew I wanted to pursue dance,” Krystal says, “but I didn’t know I could make a career of it until I went to college.”
Considered by some “too sweet” to compete in the cutthroat world of women’s dance, Krystal has been making a living in Los Angeles for the past 15 years as a professional actor/dancer. She got her start at a dance studio in downtown Globe.
The Origin Story
“Dance is something more motivated in me,” says Krystal, “I knew at a young age that I loved it.”
She first attended Lynn’s School of Dance in Globe, AZ at age 5. Her mother, Sheila Rodriguez, enrolled her in gymnastics; a year later, in ballet and tap dance. Time at the studio led to lifelong friendships for both mother and daughter.
“It was my safe space,” Krystal says. “There was a spirit of community with the girls at the studio. Being together…sweating, working so hard together.”
From age 6-17, Krystal was trained in ballet by Suzanne Lederman.
“She (Lederman) and Tina (McCarey, the owner of the studio), were such incredible dancers. I was so inspired,” Krystal says. “I wanted to be just like them.”
Sophomore year, Krystal and her dance mates traveled to New York to take in musicals and classes with Broadway instructors. The girls from Globe held their own.
“The instructors were really impressed by the training these girls had,” remarks Sheila. “From Globe to New York. That’s something.”
The studio is now the Power Elite Dance Academy at 476 N. Broad St., run by Lynn’s daughter, Tina McCarey. They are celebrating 50 years in business this month
“Without the studio in Globe, I wouldn’t have had the life and experiences I’ve had so far,” Krystal says. “I am so grateful to Lynn for following her dream, and to Tina and all the other teachers who helped me become the dancer I am today.”
Her next break came in college when she auditioned for the Phoenix Suns and was turned down.
“I was heartbroken,” says Krystal, “that’s what really great dancers did to make money.”
Through a friend, she learned of a year-long dance scholarship program in Los Angeles. Terrified to apply, something inside her said to try.
“I worked by butt off,” she says, “and it worked out.”
She was one of 20 dancers accepted (8 female) to the world-renowned EDGE Performing Arts Center program. She trained 40 hours a week, met choreographers and performed in a big show at the end with agents in the audience. She signed with Bloc Agency and is currently with MSA.
Her first job was “a few seconds” in Stepbrothers, a Will Ferrell film. Since then, Krystal has performed on stage at the Academy Awards multiple times and danced with the likes of Nick Jonas, Nicki Minaj, Justin Biever, Beyonce. In films (LaLaLand, IronMan2 ) and TV (Glow); she even has a stunt credit on her IMDb profile.
“I met the right people at the right time,” she muses.
Beyonce, she reports, “is the star you would dream she is,” shows up at every rehearsal, works incredibly hard and treats people with respect.
“She wants everyone to be as good as she,” Krystal adds, “which is not always the case with a female artist.”
Krystal learned early that you have to take care of your body to have longevity in dance. She got up, worked out, ate well. She didn’t go out and party. Still, the body starts to hurt.
“I’ll dance as long as my body will allow it,” she says.
Krystal began acting classes 8 years ago and for the past 5 years she’s been acting more than dancing. She was on a dance job in Hawaii when she learned she got the lead in a feature film.
“It was one of the moments that you can’t believe is happening,” she says.
Heartbeats, a dance romance released in 2017, available on Amazon Prime, was an opportunity to showcase her abilities. It was shot in India on an $8 million budget. Standards were different. She danced on concrete for 15-hour shoots. Aerial performances supported by 4 men holding a rope.
Covid & Current Projects
Recently in town to care for her mother who is recovering from surgery, Krystal awaits release of another film — Lethal Love Letter, a Maravista Production. She plays the best friend to the lead actress. Fresh out of college, very ambitious. Is she the bad guy or not?
“Lots of drama,” she says. “Really cute.”
The job was booked in August 2020, well into the Covid-19 pandemic. A 14-day shoot.
Lots of covid tests and social distancing. Masks and shields. Isolation. The only people seen full-face were the actors on set.
“A really bizarre experience,” Krystal says. “Great humans, though. There was never a rush.”
Grateful for the work, she notes the prohibitive expense ($30K) of Covid precautions for one more person on stage. Many dancers moved home.
“It’s weird living in LA when the industry is not going,” says Krystal. “Trying to create my own destiny, not waiting for the industry.”
Recently she has begun writing scripts. She aims to explore movement in storytelling, shed light on ageism in society and tell stories of her Grandpa Jim. He always had the right thing to say about any problem, and knew things were going to work out.
“I want to tell my own stories,” Krystal says. “I’d love to shoot something here.”
A traveler, Patti Daley came to Globe in 2016 to face the heat, follow love, and find desert treasure. She writes in many formats and records travel scraps and other musings at daleywriting.com.