Meet Rising Commercial Star, Jaxon Willard

September 21, 2023

When Jaxon Willard dances, he soars through the air and glides along the floor, and his transitions are equal parts surprising and seamless. Willard’s flexibility, strength, and raw passion allow him to layer a spectrum of aesthetics, from expansive and powerful to graceful and soft. The former “World of Dance” contestant has been making waves in the commercial industry, from performing with Rihanna in the 2023 Super Bowl Halftime Show to dancing in an FKA twigs music video and at the 2022 Grammy Awards with Lil Nas X. Now, he’s taking on a mentorship role in YSL Beauty’s Push The Boundaries contest, where he will help further the careers of the two winners in its dance category.

Age: 21

Hometown: American Fork, Utah

Training: 24 Seven, Radix, NUVO, DancerPalooza, Chapters Intensive

Accolades: Senior Male Best Dancer (Orlando), The Dance Awards 2021; Senior Male Core Performer, Radix 2019

The “World of Dance” spotlight: In 2018, Willard competed as a soloist on “World of Dance,” making it all the way to Divisional Finals. “It gave me a platform and helped me to understand my voice better, and I learned how to navigate a professional space,” he says. Willard’s mentor, contemporary dancer and teacher Chaz Buzan, saw potential in him early on: “He’s a powerhouse mover, but is just as impactful when he goes still and looks out to the audience—that’s something you cannot teach.”

Performing with the stars: Willard’s resumé already reads like a who’s who of the entertainment industry, and he soaks in as much as possible from each experience. “In those rehearsals, not one dancer is lacking,” he says, “so I get to learn from everyone, including the artist, and also see other parts of production, like directing and filming, which I’m interested in pursuing someday.”

Improving from within: Willard considers his artistic development deeply connected to his personal growth. “For a long time I was holding on to anger and stress from my past, but once I let that go, I had to navigate a lot of change in the way I moved and how I used dance as a creative outlet,” he says. Buzan considers him “a beast of a dancer, but also one of the most loving, fun, and empathetic humans. His dancing is full of honesty and truth the more life experience he gets.”

Defining success: For Willard, success is being able to do what he loves, and that requires striking a balance between dancing for work and for play. “It’s the constant pressure to dance that’s exhausting, so taking breaks keeps me in a healthy relationship,” he explains. He also likes painting and journaling and prioritizes taking time to “dance the way I want to outside of my work.”

Next up: Currently performing on Madonna’s The Celebration world tour, Willard’s future goals include working with Doja Cat and Beyoncé. “I’m into reggaeton, contemporary, dembow, and Afrobeat, so I’d love to work with any artist of color whose music and life I can feel connected to.”