Robert Green had big news for his mom. The 2010 Enloe High School graduate had landed a spot as a backup dancer for Taylor Swift’s latest world tour.
He recorded the conversation, capturing Sylvia Watlington-Green’s excitement. The video went viral – Taylor Swift tweeted it out – and has more than 615,000 views on YouTube.
“I poured my soul out to the world,” said Sylvia Watlington-Green, who lives in Raleigh.
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It was the soul of a mama who believed, after 12 years of violin lessons, her son would be a violinist.
But she listened to his change of heart.
“Mom, I want to use my body as my instrument,” she recalls him saying after his Dean’s List freshman year, explaining why he no longer wanted to pursue music at UNC-Greensboro.
“Everything he’s ever done, he’s always given it 100 percent,” Watlington-Green said. “I can’t help but be supportive of him. I don’t have any reason not to be.
“I believed in Robert because he believed in himself. He has so much creativity inside of him, he had to be himself, and I’m just so happy for him.”
The 1989 World Tour started this month with two shows in Tokyo. It continues into December, with stops nationwide, and in the Netherlands and Ireland.
The show will be in Charlotte on June 8 and at Raleigh’s PNC Arena on June 9.
“It has been a blast so far,” Green, 22, messaged me from Tokyo, noting his surprise by the video’s impact.
“I’m so glad that people have been receiving the video as well as they have,” he wrote. “I had no idea it would affect this many people!”
Christy Curtis, owner and director of CC & Co. Dance Complex in Raleigh, said Green’s journey is a prime example of two adages: Hard work pays off. And good things happen to good people.
“It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy,” Curtis said. “Besides being super talented, he is one of the most genuine, giving, artistic and creative souls I have ever met. Just incredible. Incredible.”
Green honed his skills as a dancer at CC & Co. Although he lacked traditional studio training, Curtis hired him to teach and choreograph. She recognized talent and a quality she’s seen in other successful students.
“But it’s pretty unheard of to move to LA and get a tour this fast, but it happened because he was ready,” Curtis said. “He put in the time, with hard work and persistence. He’s confident and he knows what he wants. He does not hold back.”
As her son found ways to learn what he needed to learn to be who he wanted to be, Watlington-Green followed his lead to weekend dance workshops and conventions near and far to learn from renowned choreographers.
“He would rest on the way because he needed his energy to dance when we’d get to where we were going,” she said. “When we’d leave, his body was in no shape to drive.”
At times, she said, they slept in the car, out-priced by the fancy hotels hosting the workshops.
In July 2013, after Green had worked two jobs to save money, Watlington-Green moved her son to Los Angeles to continue his dream. They drove the 1996 Honda she’d bought him for the journey.
“We did what we had to do,” she said. “Now, it seems all worth it.”
Watlington-Green said when her son reminds her that it’s never too late to dream, she replies, “What you don’t realize is I’m living my dream because you’re living yours.
“I’m just so happy for him,” she said. “He pursued his dream and his passion. He went, and he made it. He made it. He made it.
“This is the best Mother’s Day – ever!”