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‘SYTYCD’ winner Bailey Munoz dances his way back to Las Vegas

Bailey Munoz is still just 19 years old, but the Las Vegan is the equivalent of the grizzled veteran on the “So You Think You Can Dance Tour” that brings this season’s 10 finalists to The Smith Center on Friday.

Munoz earned raves this summer on the way to being crowned the champion of the show’s 16th season.

But fans of reality TV competitions first saw Munoz in 2010 as a 9-year-old performing on “America’s Got Talent.” Partnered with 5-year-old Miles “Baby Boogaloo” Brown in the dance duo known as Future Funk, they were skilled — and adorable — enough to make professional grump Piers Morgan smile before they were eliminated in the show’s semifinals.

“ ‘America’s Got Talent’ basically started my whole dance career and dance journey,” Munoz says from a tour stop in Atlanta.

The following year, he appeared on “Dancing With the Stars” and in Chris Brown’s “Yeah 3X” music video. Other career highlights have included touring with Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber.

“I’ve been blessed at a young age for the opportunities that I’ve had, and I owe that all to my parents,” Munoz says. “They’ve been supportive for my dream. Especially coming from a Filipino family, first-generation Americans. They expected me to be, like, a doctor.”

The Oakland, California, native moved to Las Vegas when he was 5. While his Future Funk partner went on to star in ABC’s “Black-ish” as youngest son Jack, Munoz pumped the brakes on his career and enrolled in Las Vegas Academy of the Arts. “I just missed being a kid,” he recalls.

Not that he gave up professional dancing entirely. What started as a two-week tryout as a 14-year-old performing at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas turned into a five-year gig.

“It was definitely difficult, but they just welcomed me with open arms,” Munoz says of juggling high school with performing on the Strip. “They knew education was so important to me. That’s why I … performed only on the weekends, because they knew the balance between studying and dancing at the same time.”

He mentions the importance of education several times during the call. “So You Think You Can Dance” is what inspired him to dance, Munoz says. He knew he wanted to be on the show at a young age, but he waited until after graduation to audition. Once he made the show, he found a familiar face in contestant Anna Linstruth, with whom he spent a year at LVA.

“Going into Week 1 of the show, having someone that I already knew was definitely very helpful,” she says during a separate call from the road. “Someone to vent to that, you know, wasn’t going to go talkin’ to everybody else or all that kind of stuff.”

They’ll both perform routines from the series as well as new pieces choreographed for the tour during Friday’s show.

“I have dreams about it sometimes,” Munoz says. “I’m, like, ‘Hey, I’m gonna be in The Smith Center.’ I know it’s definitely going to be an emotional time, but it’s something that I know I’ll remember forever.”

While he’s in town, Munoz is looking forward to eating Raising Cane’s and his mother’s cooking. After the tour wraps Dec. 6 in Reno, though, lies an uncertain future.

“The best thing in the world to me is to give. And what you give, you receive,” Munoz says. “I think no matter what, if I’m dancing or if I’m acting or whatever I do in life, I just want to give and impact lives.”

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

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