Dancer Charlize Glass on What Inspires Her

If the name “Charlize Glass” doesn’t immediately ring a bell, think back a bit. The year was 2014, and a video of the then–12-year-old’s impeccably choreographed dance routine to Beyoncé’s song “Yoncé” went viral after Queen Bey herself shared the video on IG with the caption “wow.” That was just the beginning, though: Five years later, Glass has appeared in a string of music videos and even danced at the 2015 Super Bowl halftime show with Missy Elliot.

Now 17, the native Californian is also huge on YouTube (where she regularly posts choreography tutorials for her 100k subscribers) and on Instagram (where her 739k+ followers come for more dance videos). Her style? It’s seriously cool, seriously fun, and inspired by none other than Minnie Mouse. In fact, Minnie Mouse has acted as a muse to Glass in more ways than just with her style: She looks to the iconic character when she needs a reminder to live life boldly. 

It’s all a bit hard for me to fathom, as a millennial who thought butterfly clips were the epitome of cool and was just barely logging onto MySpace on my aqua-blue iMac when I was her age.You can imagine, then, how many questions I had for Glass—a true Gen Z girl—when I got the chance to sit down with her the other day. From the moment I met her, I could sense that she’s a real force to be reckoned with… She’s got these spot-on eyebrows, some serious beyond-her-years wisdom, and she takes being bold to a whole new level. Yet somehow she still has the playful charm of a teenager ready to sashay gracefully into adulthood. I’m impressed.

So how does Glass manage the rigors of school, work, and just trying to be a teenager, I ask? “Balance is key,” she tells me. It helps, of course, that she genuinely loves what she does: In fact, she tells me her love for dance gives her a sense of purpose.