“[My] job affords me the opportunity to meet some of the best directors, singers, producers, art designers, directors of photography, dancers, and actors in their field.” 

Choreographer Courtney Miller Jr. D/92
Where does inspiration lie?  Does it make birth from something we see or something we feel?  For Miller, he was inspired by the small screen.  “Like many performers, my initial draw to dance was based on something I saw on television. In my case, it was Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video. I was amazed that dancers could put on make-up, become a character, perform, and get paid well for something they loved to do.”  

But after a passion is ignited, it must be nurtured.  Like many alumni, Miller found a nurturing and guiding atmosphere during his time at LACHSA.  “After attending LACHSA as a 10th grader, my passion grew due to the training I received from my mentor Ka-Ron Brown and my admiration for an amazing 11th grader in the department, Matthew Rushing. These two individuals, among others, were the main reason why I became passionate about dance, and ultimately, pursued it as a career.”

Matthew Rushing D/91 (left), friend Leslie Gordon (center),
and Miller (right) after Matthew’s performance with Alvin Ailey
at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in in 2011

Miller’s career has proven to be extremely successful.  Some of the headlining artists he’s worked with include Miley Cyrus, Brittany Spears, and the Jonas Brothers just to name a few.  “After LACHSA, I immediately began working in Hollywood. During my first year, I worked incessantly. At that point I made a decision to forgo college in order to see how far my career as a dancer/choreographer would take me. This decision seemed to make sense for someone who at a mere 18 years old “landed [his] first big job as a dancer for a Michael Jackson music video called ‘Remember The Time.’”  Moreover, the Kind of Pop ended up becoming a staple in Miller’s career.  “I've had the longest tenure and the most varied experience working with Michael Jackson. When people in the industry see me, they know me as Michael's choreographer.”

Courtney Miller Jr. (19 years old) with
Michael Jackson about to perform for
the American Music Awards 1993
Film and television credits for Miller include The New Girl, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas. Having just choreographed two holiday commercials for the multi-billion dollar conglomerate Kmart, Miller gives a peak into his creative world.

"When choreographers work on a commercial, they have 3 bosses. There is the company (Kmart) who is trying to enhance their brand. Then there is the marketing firm, who comes up with the creative idea for the commercial(s). Finally, you have the director, whose job is to implement the vision of the brand and marketing firm, while at the same time, infusing their own vision. Keeping all three entities can be very difficult, but it's the job of the choreographer to do so successfully, while at the same time infusing their own style and voice in the performance."

But career choices can sometimes present challenges down the road. Some artists fail because of these seeming obstacles but Miller uses them to expand himself and his talents. The nation-wide impact of the Screen Actors Guild writers’ strike pushed Miller to become something more.  “At that time, work grinded to a halt, and the creation of reality TV was born. It was at this time, that I had wished that I had gone to college and gotten my degree so as to have something to fall back on. After a little over a year, work started to pick back up and I have since expanded my career to becoming an author, screenwriter, director, and producer. No more eggs in one basket.” 

Miller in front of dancers for a featured film "A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas" 2011

Despite any temporary pause in professional work the strike may have caused, Miller continues to enjoy an illustrious career with choreographic credits that span stage and screen.  He has worked with superstars Raven Symoné, Usher, and Beyoncé and has worked on numerous award shows including the American Music Awards, the MTV Music Awards, and the Billboard Awards. 

However, Miller’s success stems from more than just talent and hard work.  During his high school days he learned a philosophy that keeps him motivated and inspired.  “The best thing I learned from LACHSA is that people are pushed to succeed when they are around successful or aspiring successful people. To that end, I try to make it a point to surround myself with people who are aspiring or who are more successful than me. This helps to push and inspire me in my career.”

Having already garnered so much success that is sure to continue, what could be on the horizon for Miller besides enjoying his past-times of cooking and snowboarding?  “At this time I'm in the process of opening up an after school program that combines the arts and Leadership.”  It’s nice to see he’s going to do what many responsible and successful artists do: spread the love and discipline of the arts to others.