Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Jennifer Lopez and More Stars Who Got Their Start as Backup Dancers

Find out which stars got their big break dancing backup for Hollywood's hottest.

By Cydney Contreras Oct 10, 2017 12:11 AMTags

You won't believe which Hollywood stars had their humble beginnings dancing backup to some of the entertainment world's hottest names. 

This past weekend, Jenna Dewan-Tatum traveled to the Hollywood Bowl to reunite with Janet Jackson's fellow dancers. It got us thinking of all the familiar faces who got their starts as backup dancers. 

From Las Vegas headliners like Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey to rappers like Sean "Diddy" Combs and Tupac Shakur, these dancers all paid their dues before they rose to the top and reached super stardom. Whether moving and grooving in huge arenas or on music video sets, these celebrities have their fair share of experience on the dance floor—and in the background.

Look below to find out which stars grooved, jived and shimmied their way to the center stage in our gallery below

Jennifer Lopez

Before the world knew her as "Jenny from the block" she danced backup for the New Kids on the Block. She continued to shimmy her way to fame and popularity as a Fly Girl on the sketch comedy show In Living Color. 

Jenna Dewan-Tatum

The World of Dance host can not only talk the talk, but she can walk the walk with years of experience dancing backup for artists like Janet Jackson and Christina Aguilera. Those dancing skills landed her the lead role opposite her now hubby Channing Tatum in the 2006 film Step Up.

Mariah Carey

Despite her reputation as a diva, the "We Belong Together" singer had humble beginnings, starting off as a dancer for her friend Brenda K. Starr, who later helped her to score a record deal with Columbia Records.

Julianne Hough

This famous dancer, singer and actress bopped her way to the top, starting out as a backup dancer on the Dancing With the Stars tour. Her cute personality and fierce salsa skills helped her to star as the main role in the remake of Footloose!

Heather Morris

Before she starred as Brittany on the hit show Glee, the star danced alongside Beyoncé during such hit songs like "Single Ladies." 


This "Material Girl" got her start dancing backup to "Born to be Alive" singer Patrick Hernandez in 1979. 

Kat Graham

Pharrell, Missy Elliot, Usher and more are among the many performers lucky enough to have had this Vampire Diaries star dance backup for them over the years. Her talent and skills even earned her the role of Maria in the film Honey 2.

Columbus Short

Before he donned the "white hat" in the hit show Scandal, the star grinded and danced onstage with Britney Spears for many years. That onstage chemistry was not all for show—the actor admitted that they had a brief fling before Britney's mom separated the two!

Tupac Shakur

The influential rapper and actor worked his way to stardom, touring alongside the hip hop group Digital Underground as a roadie before becoming a dancer for the group and eventually an MC. He shot to fame after he left the group as a solo artist. 

Sean "Diddy" Combs

The rapper joins the many stars who got their beginnings on the hit sketch show In Living Color. He is most known for his performance dancing for Heavy D and the Boyz.

Kevin Federline

Columbus Short was not the only backup dancer to have an illicit romance with Britney Spears. "K Fed" married the star after dancing on her tour, eventually having two boys with the popstar. He even danced backup for Spears' ex Justin Timberlake. Can you say awkward?

*Sigh* Why can't we all be that talented?

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