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  • Writer's pictureKristyn Burtt

Naya Rivera's Contributions to the Dance Industry Shouldn't Be Forgotten

The news in 2020 has been relentless from the pandemic to politics to untimely deaths. What makes the Naya Rivera news so hard to bear is how an innocent day out on the water turned to tragedy. The dance community mourns one of its own, an artist who gave an incredible amount of joy to viewers on shows like Glee and Step Up: High Water.

We should be celebrating Rivera's return to the role of Colette Jones in the Step Up series as it makes its move from YouTube to Starz this year. Instead, we look back at her connections to the dance industry. While music was her first love, make no mistake, Rivera could more than hold her own on the dance floor.


In 2009, Rivera joined the Glee cast as tough-on-the-exterior, but soft-at-heart cheerleader, Santana Lopez. She danced alongside real-life best friend, Heather Morris, in a recurring role. She shined so brightly in the first season, she was bumped to a series regular in Season 2.

Step Up: High Water:

Even though Rivera didn't have as many dance scenes in Step Up: High Water as she did in Glee, her talents didn't go to waste in the series. She has some pretty steamy and sensual numbers when the show was on YouTube. You can find some of the moments in the compilation video above.

So You Think You Can Dance:

While Rivera was never a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance, she stopped by with Glee co-stars Heather Morris and Harry Shum Jr. to deliver premiere tickets of Glee: The 3D Concert Movie to the Top 4 finalists. The clip is a nostalgic blast from the past as Glee was at the height of its popularity and Melanie Moore, Marko Germar, Sasha Mallory and Tadd Gadduang were at the beginning of their careers.

Dancing with the Stars:

While Rivera never joined Dancing with the Stars as a cast member, she did support Morris during her Season 24 run with Maks Chmerkovskiy (Alan Bersten filled in for Chmerkovskiy in Weeks 2-5 due to injury.) Their friendship endured beyond their Glee years with Rivera cheering from the ballroom sidelines at the Television City studios.


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