AGHS alumni: Tristen Erickson, Katy Perry, and The Dance Industry

Dixon Smith, Sports Department Head

In just six months out of high school, AGHS Alumni and 2021 graduate Tristen Erickson obtained a professional job under Katy Perry.

His father, Nate Erickson, a physical education and strength training teacher at AGHS, mentioned Tristen has been interested in dancing for a long time. On top of his association with dance company at AGHS, he has traveled with a dance company outside of the school. 

 “He’s been doing it since he was 8, traveling all over the US and doing things with the Tremaine Dance Company,” Nate Erickson said.

Tristen is the dancer holding the plug. (Courtesy of Mr. Erickson)

Tristen’s dedication has paid off and he has enjoyed his time so far working with Perry.

 “[Perry] is probably the sweetest celebrity you will ever meet. She treats everyone in her camp like family and it’s very nice to work alongside her,” Tristen said.

Perry’s number one value is loyalty within her company. 

“If you stay loyal to someone then they will do the same to you. Especially with Katy, if you are loyal to her she will treat you like family,” Tristen said.

What Tristen enjoys most about what he does are the friends he makes along the way. 

“Meeting people in the industry and being able to learn so much and making connections with people… that is what the industry is all about,” he said.

Tristen is dancing as a giant toothbrush. (Courtesy of Mr. Erickson)

Another place Tristen has been able to connect with people and heighten his status is on the set of SNL, working as a dancing toothbrush beside Perry.

“It is really fun, everyone there is really cool… All the boys… her dancers, have a really great connection [with each other] so it is fun being able to [dance] with them,” Tristen said.

While Tristen has gained success, he has encountered some bumps in the road.  A couple of these include the audition processes and learning how to dance with a bulky costume.

“[My audition] was very tiring. Two days, both eight-hour days… You go through a bunch of processes and it’s very stressful because they are judging you on how you look, and how you dance,” Tristen said.

 It has been especially exhausting for Tristen to adapt to dancing with Perry’s elaborate costumes. “[The costumes are] a challenge; but like anything else, once you repeat it enough, it becomes easy. But the emotion of: ‘wow this is hard,’ sucks.”

Despite some doubts, Tristen has wanted to be a dancer from a young age.

 “…there were periods where I questioned [dancing], but it always called me back,” Tristen said.

The most important advice that has stuck with Tristen is to not change who you are. 

“As cliche and corny as it sounds, people will hire you for who you are, you don’t have to morph into someone else. Be true to yourself.”

For those who want to pursue dancing, Tristen recommends putting yourself out there.

 “Go to LA and train… take classes and make connections. Connections are more important than [your dancing in your] ability to make a career. If I didn’t have connections, I would not be able to do the things I want.”