It's 10 years since Dubbo and district residents voted like crazy to keep Charlie Bartley in the national television show So You Think You Can Dance Australia.
Thanks to the city's support, Charlie was runner-up and named Australia's favourite male dancer.
Today he's living his dream of dancing for one of the world's superstar artists, Usher.
Based overseas for the past couple of years, Charlie is ever grateful to Dubbo for helping him kick-start his career.
Read what the 29-year-old graduate of Dubbo Ballet Studio has to say about the show which catapulted him into the entertainment industry; how Dubbo's support got him through it; what it's like to drive on six-lane freeways where everyone is in a hurry, and why he's now a blonde.
So let's start with the simple question of where is Charlie Bartley now?
I've been living in Los Angeles (LA) in the United States for a little over two years now. Everything moves so swiftly over here. It feels like two weeks since I left Australia. LA is a a creative Mecca and there's always something happening. It's more common than not for the notice of an audition to be sent to your inbox the day before it happens and in some cases the day of the audition. So it's always handy to have a head shot lurking in your bag ready to go.
I've made a second home for myself at a studio called Playground LA which is run by Kenny Wormald (Footloose) and Robin Antin (creator of The Pussycat Dolls) where I teach every week. Taking class is one of my favourite ways to experiment with movement while also being out and about on a wide range of jobs from Mickey Mouse's 90th birthday celebration, to Usher performances and a range of Latin and American award shows. It's a fun, wild ride.
It's been 10 years since you were named runner-up on So You Think You Can Dance Australia. What did you learn from being on the show?
Looking back, I have realised that I definitely don't have the energy I used to have. I'm glad I was able to do the show when I was 19 because it required so much physical and mental resilience. We would sometimes rehearse three routines a day, at four hours a rehearsal, and in between fit in behind-the-scenes interviews as well as try to eat. I think we worked three months straight only stopping once for Easter break.
It was also great being behind the scenes and seeing the nuts and bolts of how a TV show works. So You Think You Can Dance gave me stage performance experience and knowledge about how network television runs. Little did I know at the time that I'd spend most of my career thus far on both of those platforms.
You had such great backing from Dubbo on the show and even to this day. How important was that support to you?
I really learned the importance of having a support network like Dubbo on that show. It was very uplifting to know I had my hometown cheering me on especially on the days where I was so sore I could barely roll out of bed. It also gave me confidence to be myself and to be proud of where I came from.
It was very uplifting to know I had my hometown cheering me on especially on the days where I was so sore I could barely roll out of bed.Professional dancer Charlie Bartley
You probably have heard it before but I think country kids have a drive that is unprecedented. So many times in my life I've been in other countries or TV shows or performance jobs and met people from country NSW. Not just dancers but sound technicians, stage managers, band members and the list goes on.
We may not always have access to the most extravagant opportunities but we sure know how to make the most of them when they come around. I think knowing that your hometown has pride in your talent really propels you forward.
We see you've changed your look a little. Did you finally realise blondes do have more fun?
Ha-ha!! I decided to test the theory out once and for all. I've had the absolute honour of dancing for Usher for around a year now. Big artists like their dancers to be an integral part of the show. They're not what you'd typically call back-up dancers, which kind of insinuates we prance around in the background. We are what the choreographer has described as an "extension of Usher".
So having said that each individual dancer needs to be an artist within themselves. The creative team asked me to go blonde and I thought it would be a great way to reinvent myself. Half of dancing well is feeling like a superstar on the stage. The blonde hair is a part of my character as a dancer.
Its seems like you travel a lot for performances. What are some of the best places you've travelled to so far?
That's one of the perks of being a dancer. Performance opportunities pop up all over the country and the world. I really have loved travelling to Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Houston, Kentucky, Indiana, Toronto, Germany and a whole stack of other places over the last year.
It gives you a great perspective of the world and how people enjoy performing arts regardless of their culture. People are just looking to have a good time.
What's the strangest thing about living in America?
I didn't realise at the time of moving but I use a lot of colloquialism and Aussie slang when I speak. I had to figure out the blank stares that I got from my friends meant they had no idea what I'd just said.
I constantly have to figure out the American translation. So apparently, Australian is its own version of English.
Also, you have to keep your wits about you on the road over here. People drive fast and loose on these six-lane freeways. Apparently everyone's got somewhere to be, and quickly.