Disney Channel star Zendaya is the hottest thing to hit “Dancing With the Stars” in a long, long time. But where did this 16-year-old dynamo come from? Yes, we know she plays Rocky Blue on the Disney Channel series “Shake It Up!” but wait. . . there’s more.
Dancing sensation Zendaya Coleman was born Sept. 1, 1996 in Oakland, Calif. Her mom worked as the House Manager for the Calfornia Shakespeare Theater in Orinda. Zendaya hung out with her mom and later performed in some of the stage productions. She has performed at the Berkeley Playhouse and the Palo Alto TheatreWorks. She studied at the CalShakes Conservatory program, part of the American Conservatory Theater.
Zendaya has also worked as a model for Old Navy, Macy’s and Mervyns. She has experience in hip hop dancing and danced backup in a Selena Gomez commercial. She spent two years dancing hula with The Academy of Hawaiian Arts.
Her name, Zendaya, means “to give thanks” in the Bantu language of the Shona people of Zimbabwe.
Sometimes, she seems like a gangly teenager and as partner Val Chmerkovskiy says, “She’s very tall in dance shoes.” She cracks jokes in the pre-dance clips, making fun of herself almost falling over in the heels necessary for their Jive. She makes faces. She looks like a very typical teenager most times.
But when it’s time to hit that dance floor, what everybody sees, including the judges, is a consummate professional. The girl can dance! Her acting experience gives her the ability to entertain and keep the theme of the performance. All of her other experience combines to showcase her outstanding abilities. You have to consciously remember this child is only 16 years old.
She has a fantastic partner in Valentin Chmerkovskiy this season on “Dancing With the Stars.” Val is patient, sensitive and kind and, from what everyone says, one of the best dance teachers around. You can see the pride he has in Zendaya throughout the dance and later. He’s very conscious of her age, but he knows what she’s capable of and pushes her to the max, knowing she can take it and deliver.
Judge Bruno Tonioli said it best after Zendaya and Val danced the Jive on Week 2: “A star is born – big time!” Oh, how right he is!
Keep your eyes on Zendaya and Val. They have topped the leader board two weeks running. It’s not an easy place to be and it’s a hard place to stay. Can Zendaya do it? We’re betting the answer to that is a very solid yes.