58°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

‘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.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
New lunch menu at Momofuku Las Vegas
Chef Michael Rubinstein talks about the new lunch menu at Momofuku. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Cube by Nanotak at Intersect Festival - VIDEO
The cube synced with driving electronic music and glowed with LEDs that twinkled along the cube’s lines. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Elvis Presley tribute artist Trent Carlini dies - VIDEO
Trent Carlini, a renowned Elvis Presley tribute artist who performed at several Las Vegas resorts for almost 30 years, has died. Clark County officials confirmed Carlini died on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, at a Las Vegas hospital. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Intersect drone light show - VIDEO
The Intersect Music Festival in Las Vegas featured a special drone light show. (Samia DeCubas)
Shirley Chung is “coming home” for Paired dinner
Celebrity chef Shirley Chung is back in Las Vegas to co-host a sold out collaborative dinner Saturday night at Red Plate in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dandelion Chocolate opening at The Venetian
San Francisco’s Dandelion Chocolate will open its first Las Vegas café and retail store in The Venetian on Saturday. To celebrate, they’ll be offering guests free hot chocolate. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lbertine Social’s Pastrami Feast
Libertine Social's massive, house-made short-rib pastrami for $175 latter consists of three bones of short rib brined for seven days, smoked for six hours and cooked sous vide for two days before it’s finished in the restaurant’s pizza oven to give it a bark. It’s then carved and presented tableside with an assortment of sides and lettuce for making wraps. What’s “leftover” is then returned to the kitchen and prepared as Reuben sandwiches.
Ellis Island unveils The Front Yard
Ellis Island’s marketing director Christina Ellis talks about the new addition of the Front Yard. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump dropped from Terry Fator’s show on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Fator has edited out one prominent figure: President Donald Trump, a focal point of Fator’s regular stage show and also Christmas show over the past 3½ years. The Trump puppet, with his pop-up hairpiece, has been sidelined from both shows until further notice. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Double Down Saloon
The iconic Vegas dive bar turns 27 this weekend. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making Elvis French Toast at Toasted Gastrobrunch in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Alfie Szeprethy, executive chef at Toasted Gastrobrunch in Las Vegas, makes Elvis French Toast by layering banana, peanut butter and bacon between brioche and grilling it in French toast batter. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cosmopolitan Tree Lighting Starts the Las Vegas Holiday Season - VIDEO
With a flip of an actual switch the Cosmopolitan lit their tree to signal the start of the Las Vegas holiday season. Golden Knights favorites Marc-Andre Fleury and Max Pacioretty were on hand to help with the event and skate around the rink with fans. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Views of the first Las Vegas Pizza Festival - VIDEO
The inaugural Las Vegas Pizza Festival, held Nov. 16 at the Industrial Event Space, drew 1,500 pizza lovers to sample the wares of 20 local pizza makers. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights documentary premiere brings out emotions - VIDEO
A couple of thousand ticket-holders braved marathon traffic and road closures to arrive at T-Mobile Arena three hours before game time to watch the long-in-the-works documentary. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rock ’n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon attracts 35,000-plus runners - VIDEO
More than 35,000 are registered to run in this year’s marathon or half-marathon. They’ll start their journey at 4:30 p.m. and conclude it under the neon lights on the Strip. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Heather Bray, as Elvis, wins women’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon - VIDEO
Heather Bray completed the 26.2-mile course Sunday in 3 hours, 13 minutes for her first marathon victory. She had run in two others, posting faster times in both. But the costume was heavier than her usual workout garb. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bobby Flay Celebrates 15 Years Of Mesa Grill at Caesars Palace
Bobby Flay talks about his Mesa Grill restaurant at Caesars Palace celebrating e its 15th anniversary. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Smoked Sazerac at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse in Las Vegas
Chase Jefferies, a bartender at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse in Las Vegas, makes a Smoked Sazerac by shaking Hennessy, Bulleit Rye, Pernod Absinthe, maple syrup and Peychaud’s Bitters with ice, then filling a snifter with applewood smoke and pouring the drink over an oversized ice cube. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Red Rock Canyon free to all Monday for Veterans Day - VIDEO
In honor of Veterans Day, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is free to all visitors on Monday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Artist dedicates heart sculpture on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Artist Katy Boynton dedicated her sculpture depicting a giant steel heart to the Las Vegas community Saturday night outside Fashion Show mall. (James Schaeffer /Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Warm Salt-Roasted Beets at La Cave Wine & Food Hideaway in Las Vegas
Chris Yamauchi, sous chef at La Cave Wine & Food Hideaway at Wynn Las Vegas, roasts fresh beets for three hours, peels, cubes and chills them, then sautés them with butter, sherry vinegar and black pepper and tops with goat cheese and pistachios. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
O.J. Simpson files lawsuit against The Cosmopolitan over TMZ story - VIDEO
A lawsuit filed Thursday alleges that The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas defamed O.J. Simpson when hotel employees told TMZ he was kicked out of the casino “for belligerence” in November 2017. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Smith Center will now be charging $5 fee to park - VIDEO
Patrons now have to pay to park to attend events at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in downtown, continuing a recent trend in the Las Vegas Valley. (James Schaeffer / Review-Journal)
Prove you're a local: Try to pronounce these Nevada cities - VIDEO
Try your hand at pronouncing these Nevada cities and watch as other locals from Downtown Summerlin attempt to get the names right along with you. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making Cochinita Pibil Tacos at Santos Guisados Tacos & Beer in Las Vegas
Lola Vasquez, a cook at Santos Guisados Tacos & Beer in Las Vegas, makes Cochinita Pibil Tacos by rubbing a pork shoulder with signature seasoning, marinating it in a mixture of achiote, peppercorns, clove, cumin, salt and fresh lime and orange juices and roasting overnight. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal )
Joey D'Ambrosio talks about playing on "Rock Around the Clock" - VIDEO
Saxophonist Joey D'Ambrosio, who lives in Henderson, was a member of Bill Haley & His Comets. “People were looking for something new,” D’Ambrosio said. "When they heard ‘Rock Around the Clock,’ there was something about that record that turned them on.” (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nation’s Largest Student Farmers Market
600 students participate in massive farmers market, Oct. 23,2019. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giant Student Farmers Market in Las Vegas
The largest student-run farmers market in the country involved 600 kids from more than 50 schools in the Las Vegas area selling fruits and vegetables grown at their schools. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ryan Reaves beer special in the Las Vegas Arts District - VIDEO
James Manos of Able Baker Brewing talks about offering a Golden Knights game-day promotion to celebrate partner Ryan Reaves at its Main Street tasting room. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas native Ethan William Childress of "Mixed-ish" - VIDEO
Interview with Las Vegas native Ethan William Childress, a young star of the new ABC comedy "Mixed-ish." (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review -Journal) @bizutesfaye
THE LATEST