Twenty-one-year-old Canadian dancer Joshua Lamb made waves with his partner Denise Goping on Season 3 of “World of Dance” in February 2019, captivating the judges with his authentic artistry and vulnerable storytelling. But after being eliminated in the third round of competition the following month, it was time for Lamb to face the real music. “I was on this high, because basically, from the time I was 11 to the time I was 18, I’d wake up every day at 8 am, go to school, then go right to dance and train until 10 pm,” Lamb says. “All of a sudden, I walk back into my bedroom in Toronto, and I’ve graduated from school and from dance, and I just got eliminated from this big competition show. I remember sitting there with myself, like, ‘What do I do now? What is my worth, now that I have nothing to do?’”
For Lamb, appearing on “World of Dance” was a culmination of years of competitive dance training, and one harrowing audition journey that began when he and his partner auditioned for the show’s second season. “We actually flew to L.A. after getting a callback for Season 2. At the audition, we ran two numbers back-to-back twice. When we were finished, the woman running the audition told us ‘No, sorry,’ and that was it,” Lamb recalls. “It was definitely a defeating moment after having put so much time, money and effort into that experience.” Nevertheless, the following year, the duo was encouraged to audition again, and this time, everything felt right—they were offered a spot on the show a few months later.
Competing as a duo on the “World of Dance” stage was a thrilling experience that Lamb will never forget. It also challenged him as a dancer both physically and artistically. “Denise’s and my dance style is more emotional and narrative, and might seem simplistic compared to the flashy, reality-TV-show standard,” he explains. “Part of me felt determined to stay true to that on the show—and the other part went right to YouTube and started watching previous seasons to figure out how we could mimic what other successful acts had done.” In Season 3, Lamb’s artistic compass was put to the test when the pair finalized their choreography with the show’s producers. “Our Duels piece was actually choreographed by Chaz Buzan and Talia Favia, so it just didn’t sit well with me to change anything about it for the show,” Lamb remembers.
After their Duels score put them in jeopardy, the duo competed for last-chance redemption against fellow Canadian dancer Briar Nolet, but they were ultimately eliminated. “I was extremely disappointed,” Lamb says. “Looking back, though, I feel like I can walk away from the show with a sense of integrity, knowing I stayed true to my own artistry.”
Returning home to Canada immediately after elimination, Lamb was unsure of what direction to go next. “Having Jennifer Lopez sing your praises is probably the most validation you could ever get,” Lamb shares. “But it’s not like anybody was knocking at my door asking me to dance in their music video or be in their movie.” What’s more, Lamb’s experience essentially repeated itself once the show aired. “It was both a win and a loss,” he remembers. “My social media grew so much as people watched, and it was exciting to be able to have an audience and create content. But once the show ended, the likes and follows dwindled.” While Lamb did his best to post class videos and keep up with social media’s fast-paced demands, he remembers reaching a low point in his mental health that made content creation difficult.
Having always dreamed of living and working in L.A. as a dancer and choreographer, Lamb set his sights on saving enough money to apply for a U.S. visa. Just like his “World of Dance” audition, however, success didn’t come overnight. “Even with the show on my resumé, I struggled to find work as a dance teacher and choreographer,” Lamb says. He ended up taking a part-time job at a department store in Ontario, where he worked for about three years. “During that time, something magical happened,” Lamb says. “Being forced to look inwards for approval and inspiration, I started to find my truest, authentic self. Little did I know how that would contribute to my success later on. I am now so much more connected to my art, and know exactly what I want to say through dance.”
With time and patience, Lamb gradually found his niche in the Ontario dance scene. Eventually, two studios, Canadian Dance Company and Art and Soul Dance Company, invited him to teach for their students, which led to more word-of-mouth teaching and choreographing opportunities, and even an invitation to join the convention staff of View Dance Challenge. “By this past fall, I was finally able to quit my department store job because I could support myself solely from dance,” Lamb shares. He plans to move to L.A. to continue his work later this year.
Lamb decided to encapsulate his artistic and personal journey in a solo video project, “Me In 20 Years.” “That project really helped project my career forward by stating who I am as an artist,” Lamb explains. “It was a vulnerable and personal way of telling my friends, family, and peers that I am a queer person. I want to use my work as a platform to spread kindness and acceptance, and inspire other younger dancers to be exactly who they are.”
Ultimately, Lamb hopes that by sharing his journey on and after “World of Dance,” other dancers will come to understand their own worth outside of others’ validation. “Getting eliminated from the show is what actually changed my life,” Lamb says. “I don’t know if I would have been more successful had I gone straight from a ‘World of Dance’ win to L.A. I needed to come back down to earth, learn more about myself, and work hard.”
It was the time spent out of the spotlight that mattered the most to Lamb, and what seemed to be a loss ultimately set him up for success later on. “If you’re getting rejected, it’s because it’s not right for you,” he says. “Trust that when it’s your time it’ll happen, and in the meantime, keep exploring yourself. The more you know what you want to say, the more people will want to listen. And when you’re chosen, you’ll be fully prepared for the opportunities to come.”