Lala D’iore remembers it like it was yesterday.

After an intense day of rehearsals, she and another gentleman were escorted into a Las Vegas dance studio where the two were introduced to a full room of leering eyes. However, it was one woman that would be the bearer of good news.

The lady in question was none other than Janet Jackson. Almost unrecognizable, she wasn’t sporting her typical fashion-forward threads, but a simple sweat suit with her hair pulled back in a bun.

“Obviously, we saw what you did online and that’s the reason why you’re here. You did a great job,” Jackson said calmly. “We’ve been watching you yesterday and how you interacted with everyone and with the routine. We’ve come to a decision.”

D’iore and Phil were finalists in a competition to work with the multi-Grammy Award winner on an upcoming, secret project. Despite being chosen from over 75,000 online submissions, the two still had to endure a three-day audition, which all culminated into this moment.

Jackson took a dramatic breath as she prepared for the big reveal. “How would you like to dance with us at the Billboard Awards?” D’iore’s knees locked as she squealed with excitement, while Phil dropped to the floor in shock.

Jackson was preparing to perform at the music mainstay, where she would also be honored with the show’s Lifetime Achievement award. The Instagram video of the announcement, which now boasts almost 60,000 views, only tells a fraction of the story. For D’iore, born La’Vala Moss, it all began in Birmingham, Alabama with a very friendly cop.

Weeks prior, D’iore and a friend were scouting locations to film her audition video. After stumbling across an empty street, the two were immediately stopped by an officer who initially questioned their safety. After explaining the situation, the officer, Phillip Jones, offered to temporary block the street and use his vehicle’s high beams as extra lighting.

Utilizing the opportunity, D’iore pranced around the street to Jackson’s “Pleasure Principle.” Within days, the video went viral, warming the hearts of millions and catching the attention of the “Rhythm Nation” singer.

Lala is an abridged version of her first name. Her surname pays homage to the family of D’iore, a collective of friends she made while studying at Miles College, where she studied Criminal Justice.

Hailing from Birmingham by way of Detroit, the dancer found her groove at a young age, performing in the Southside Christian Episcopal Church’s dance ministry. As time progressed, she graduated to local talent shows. As a spectator, D’iore recalled attending Broadway productions and being in awe of the actors on stage. It was at the young age of 13 that she decided to be a full-fledged dancer.

“I’ve always been a performer,” D’iore said. “I started in church at the age of 3 and I gradually grown into it every year. That’s where my passion is. I love performing and being on stage. I love dancing, so over the years I just started taking it more and more serious and I realized that is what I wanted to do and that’s where my heart lies.”

Growing up in the Joseph H. Loveman Village projects, D’iore said the “urban culture of dance” surrounded her. It was the air that she breathed, declaring that is shaped her fierce and edgy style of dance.

“Everywhere you went, every cookout, every hangout, every house party, everything of that nature, it was always consisting of dance, but at that time growing up, it was just about knowing the hottest hip hop dance or to just freestyle and do whatever you feel when you go out.”

At five-feet-even, D’iore radiates an aura that’s larger than life. Her movements are spontaneous and uncalculated. While the spirit of dance flowed through her veins, the family finances were tight. Unlike others in her profession, she admitted a lack of formal training was an initial setback.

“It’s one thing to be a dancer, a performer, an entertainer and a choreographer and different stuff of that nature,” D’iore said. “I was never a trained dancer. Growing up, my mom didn’t put me ballet, in jazz and all technical training that you do need to have as a dancer, so the hardship came with me realizing that this was my passion…people get training as babies at 3 years[old]so, the hardship of trying to be trained in your teens and tweens and trying to get all of the right etiquette under your belt at such an age like that makes it very difficult, because it’s like you’re trying to catch up to where it’s like certain dancers have already passed for years.”

Playing catch up, D’iore enrolled in Illumny Dance Crew, Birmingham Southern College and Mad Skillz Dance Co. in 2012 where she learned the art of hip hop, ballet and jazz. Despite being a late bloomer, D’iore didn’t let her pride get in the way. The results speak for itself.

Outside of her Billboard performance, the young dancer likes to give back to her city, offering bi-weekly heels classes at the Magic City Dance studio.  She has even taken up small modeling and choreography gigs.

Last month, D’iore teamed up with LX Productions told hold the All Things Dance Workshop, a hands-on seminar that offered intense tutorials on the art of dance.

“I teach women and males, whoever attends the class, how to just be confident and sexy within themselves and I also teach a choreographed piece that I create myself that I teach, and I let them re-do.”

Despite an impressive, star-studded resume, D’iore remains humble. After declaring her dreams to the universe, the emerging performer isn’t letting anything get in her way, especially a job. For the Magic City Native, the endless hustle turned a dream into a passion. With dedication and hard work, she turned a passion into a career.

“I turned it into a career when I realized that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and just never gave up. You turn it into career when you start to find your balance. I’ve learned that if you go work for a company from 9-5, if you have a dream or passion that you really want to do that you desire, you should always invest in that dream from 5-9.”


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