Whitefish 12-year-old dances way to Hollywood

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  • Whitefish dancer Cody Bingham, 12, is making a name for himself in Hollywood, while still trying to balence life as a middle school student. (Daniel McKay/Whitefish Pilot)

  • 1

    Whitefish dancer Cody Bingham, center, performs on “Lip Sync Battle Shorties” on Nickelodeon. (Photo courtesy Trae Patton/Nickelodeon)

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    Cody Bingham, right, on set while filming a commercial with Hugh Jackman. (Photo courtesy of Tawnya Bingham)

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    Cody Bingham, left, on set for a commercial with Zac Efron. (Photo courtesy of Tawnya Bingham)

  • Whitefish dancer Cody Bingham, 12, is making a name for himself in Hollywood, while still trying to balence life as a middle school student. (Daniel McKay/Whitefish Pilot)

  • 1

    Whitefish dancer Cody Bingham, center, performs on “Lip Sync Battle Shorties” on Nickelodeon. (Photo courtesy Trae Patton/Nickelodeon)

  • 2

    Cody Bingham, right, on set while filming a commercial with Hugh Jackman. (Photo courtesy of Tawnya Bingham)

  • 3

    Cody Bingham, left, on set for a commercial with Zac Efron. (Photo courtesy of Tawnya Bingham)

At 12 years old, Cody Bingham’s résumé is already impressive.

In early 2016, Bingham was selected to dance onstage with Justin Bieber during a concert. More recently, he appeared alongside Hugh Jackman and Zach Efron in the first-ever live commercial during a promotion for the film, “The Greatest Showman,” and Friday, Jan. 12 he will make his Nickelodeon debut in “Lip Sync Battle Shorties.”

Since appearing in the Bieber concert nearly two years ago, Bingham has focused in on his dancing, continuing with his strengths — like hip hop — while also exploring other styles to become a more well-rounded dancer.

He’s disciplined, too.

Every morning, Bingham’s alarm rings at 6:10, signaling him to get up and start training. He dances, then works out to supplement his dancing, then showers, has breakfast and heads over to school.

“And he does that on his own,” his mother, Tawnya, says. “We don’t say, ‘go dance.’ He does Pilates and core stuff just to try to stay strong. That’s the self motivation, and that’s what sets him apart from other kids, he’s putting that time in.”

The work is paying off.

Since acquiring an agent last summer, opportunities have been plentiful, Tawnya says.

He’s made two exclusive dance companies — immaBEAST, a hip-hop group, and immaBREATHE, its contemporary sibling — and was sought out personally by choreographers for the Greatest Showman commercial.

The ad, which appeared during The Christmas Story Live on Dec. 17, featured 200 dancers and actors from the movie. Of those 200, Bingham landed a lead role, playing one of the three kids who step out from the set of The Christmas Story and enters the world of P.T. Barnum and early show business.

Bingham got to meet Jackman and Efron, and even got the former to wear his favorite unicorn finger puppet for a photo.

“It was pretty cool, I’ve never really met somebody like that before,” Bingham said. “They’re all really nice, Hugh Jackman was really nice. Normally when we’re on set and practicing we’ll get to talk to them.”

In the Nickelodeon show, he takes on a different role, dancing and lip syncing to “Something Just Like This” by the Chainsmokers and Coldplay for the show that has youngster compete against each other.

On the referral of his mother’s friend, Bingham sent in an audition tape to producers of the show.

“About three weeks later we got a phone call that he’d made it all the way through and didn’t have to come to L.A. to audition,” Tawnya said. “Three kids in the nation got that.”

In the summer he went to L.A. to film the show.

The dancing was fun, Bingham said, but there were plenty of other highlights involved.

“It was so much fun, there was so much candy and they gave you your own dressing room that they customized for you. Mine was half graffiti, and the split right down the middle it was all white,” he said.

It’s been a fast two years since going from video auditions to having an agent and dancing alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest names, Tawnya says.

They’ve been turning down opportunities because of travel complications, and finding an appropriate balance between Bingham’s career as a dancer and his life as a seventh-grader can be difficult, she said.

“We’re trying to keep him kind of grounded and a normal kid, not an L.A. kid,” she said. “I look at this progression and it’s a little scary to me, because he could easily be making a lot of money right now and be very happy in L.A., but that’s not an option.”

But they know it’s worth it to Bingham, and he makes that clear too, whether it’s through his strict workout schedule or by saving up enough money to go to different competitions and conventions.

“We’ve kind of just sat back as parents and said, ‘OK, we’ll take you here and we’ll take you there, but we need to see that you’re working for it, that you have some skin in the game,’” Tawnya said. “When he doesn’t have a scholarship for a convention, he’s shoveling snow, he’s raking leaves — he pays for it.

Lip Sync Battle Shorties will air on Nickelodeon Friday, Jan. 12 at 5:30 p.m.

To view more of Bingham’s work, search “Cody Bingham” on YouTube or follow @codybingham on Instagram.

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