Ally Love already wears quite a few hats: Peloton instructor and global lead of instructor strategic initiatives, “Courtside Conversations” podcast host and producer, Adidas global ambassador, Brooklyn Nets in-arena host, model, “Love Squad” founder and CEO, to name a few. But the social media and dance personality has a new title – competitive game show host – to add to the list.
Love, a former Knicks City Dancer, is hosting Netflix’s “Dance 100,” where dancers get the power in a show that is looking for the best choreographer. Now streaming, the show spotlights eight choreographers competing for a $100,000 prize. The judges? A group of 100 dancers.
Hailing from Miami, Love now lives in New York City, where she graduated from Fordham University in partnership with the Ailey School for dance. Despite her earned status as a fitness guru with Peloton, Love’s younger self could never have imagined that title. Love spoke with Variety about “Dance 100” and her journey to becoming a multi-hyphenate star in the cycling and dance industries.
What makes “Dance 100” different from other dance shows like “Dancing With the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance”?
The unique spin on “Dance 100” is that we’re giving the power back to the people — the people being the dancers. It connects the simple fact that dancers are often seen, not heard; that we love what they do, but they don’t always get the exposure and the feedback that they deserve right away. The choreographers, who are the contestants, need to show their leadership and communication skills, but also their craft.
How did you become this multi-platform fitness expert?
It wasn’t like Peloton was the gateway for me where I became a Peloton instructor and then became the host of the Nets; this is my 10th season. I’m an Adidas-signed athlete and I am a CEO and founder of Love Squad. Peloton has opened and broadened the horizon of possibility and the scope of people finding Ally Love, and I’m forever grateful for that. But Peloton added to the “slashes” that I’ve already had, and they all intersect in my life very well.
Do you have any role models you’ve looked up to?
Who doesn’t look up to Jane Fonda? Tell me one person. No, I do love me some Jane, clearly, first name basis. The pinnacle is Oprah, who am I not to say Oprah’s name?
When I think of where I want to land in life, I think there are many ways to get there. I do find [inspiration in] what Mr. Rogers did with giving power back to kids on PBS, being honest about current situations, and how he was able to entertain and educate the next generation and leave the world in a better place. It really strikes a chord with me, and that’s what I carry with me in my career.
Malala Yousufzai, the same thing, the idea of making sure that education and information are accessible to all folks, especially kids, especially those that are underserved, especially women. The intersection of those two people is exactly where I take stock and where I’m rooted in the ground.
Were you inspired by fitness icons like Jane Fonda and Jeanette Jenkins growing up?
I didn’t necessarily grow up with like, “I’m going to go into fitness.” Do I pay homage now, after becoming such an integral part of the current climate of fitness? Absolutely. I think what they’ve done and are doing is incredible. But, fitness — to someone of a Black family that I came from — wasn’t a priority, because it couldn’t be a priority. Fitness was a luxury we couldn’t afford.
So the fact that I’m able to make it equitable and I can change the landscape and be that base, I’m very privileged and blessed and I take that responsibility. But I didn’t have the luxury of actually having these folks to look up to. I didn’t know who they were growing up, to be honest, because fitness wasn’t available to us in that capacity.
You went through an accident when you were young, how did this affect your journey to where you are today?
I got hit by a car when I was 9 years old and was in traction for five days. Once I was in recovery, I was homeschooled and had physical therapy, and I missed playing with my friends. My mom decided, when it was cleared by the physical therapist that following summer, I can go to a community program, and that’s when I found dance.
At the end of the summer, you put on a performance for your parents, and the dance teacher told my mom, “Your daughter is pretty talented. You should really look into this. She has a gift.” Mom’s like, “No, she doesn’t. She’s never taken dance outside of this”. And I was like, “No, Mom, I love it. I love it so much.” She’s like, “Alright, you love it. Let’s do it.” We found ways so I could take dance class and I could perform, and that was my entry point to dance. It was because I missed that social aspect because I was homeschooled and in physical therapy from the accident. It was my outlet.
Did that experience make you appreciate the ability to dance more?
Absolutely. I decided that I wanted to be a professional dancer at 13 after getting into this class at 10 years old. Three years of dancing, and I said this is what I want to do with my life. I got into New World School of the Arts, got my acceptance letter and went to start the new year. I went to the doctor for my yearly physical before school, and the doctor was like, “You’re gonna have arthritis, at a very young age in high school, because you have a pin in your left hip [from the accident]. There are gonna be moments where you can’t dance, and the weather is gonna affect it.”
We decided to make an adult decision: I got another surgery at 14 years old and they removed the plate from my hip. That meant I went to performing arts school, but I couldn’t dance for the entire school year. So, I took notes for one whole year — my freshman year in high school – in every dance class, every day, until senior performance, where they were casting people to crawl on the floor. And I performed in the senior performance as a freshman crawling across the stage.
Are there any people or organizations you credit with helping you get to where you are?
Armour Dance Theater (ADT). Dance is an expensive art form. When I got into high school, I met this woman, Ms. Ruth Wiesen, who runs the organization now. She would write grants — and still does — and provide scholarships for kids like me, where they would pay for my tights, my leotards and my ballet shoes, because, as a kid, your body’s growing. They would send us to New York every summer on scholarship to dance at the Dance Theatre of Harlem or Alvin Ailey or New York City Ballet. It’s why I decided to audition and I was accepted into the Ailey-Fordham program. Now I’m on the board and we just donated 500 items of Love Squad apparel to the partnering schools that ADT works with.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.