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Bryan “Left Shark” Gaw: From Katy Perry’s Dancer to Celeb Stylist In Training

Just one quick google search of “Bryan Gaw” will pull up thousands of hits–after all, he was the infamous “left shark” in Katy Perry’s Super Bowl halftime performance. But besides Bryan’s debatable dance moves in a ginormous shark costume–which we found amazing and hilarious all at the same time–Bryan Gaw is a wildly accomplished performer who has danced alongside some of the biggest stars in the world… Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Toni Braxton.

But after years of slaying stages, he decided to turn in his sneakers for shears–setting out on a new path as a hairstylist assistant at Mare salon in West hollywood. Bryan isn’t a newbie when it comes to reinventing himself–he only started dancing at 16 years-old and look how much success he had there in just 14 years! So believe us when we say we’re convinced you’ll be seeing the name Bryan Gaw for years to come. Below, we learn more about Bryan’s dance career, when he decided to call it quits and go to Paul Mitchell for hair school, and his new life as a hair dresser.

How did you elevate your dance career?

Through my youth dance group I was introduced to an opportunity to audition for the NBA Houston Rocket power dancers as a tumbler/ cheer addition … which then lead to the WNBA Houston Comets Dance team. These people were serious seasoned professional dancers of Houston and here I was, a newbie, so I copied them. I  asked them how they got better, where they took class, what helped them be so great. And so I did just that and took all kinds of dance classes in Houston, made friends with the team. Flew out to NY and LA for dance class and I was HOOKED and i really thought i could just DO it. It was the only spark I had – I just wanted to dance!!!

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What was your “OMG” I made it dance career moment?

Hands down Super Bowl. First off. That gig is so HUGE. And not many dancers get that opportunity because not every act utilizes dancers. So definitely timing with who are currently working with has a big deal do with it. I’d always dreamed and watched big Super Bowl shows with Michael Jackson and such and towards the end of my career I thought that show may pass me over.

But, I think when you set your intentions straight with yourself and the universe opportunities come …. and most times bigger than can ever have originally be dreamt. That’s exactly what happened with me and performing at the Super Bowl with Katy Perry and the explosion of the internet …. hence my creativity birthing “left shark” .

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Did you think you were always going to dance for your career? Or did you have an inkling that you would eventually switch careers?

So when I had the gut instinct to quit college and dance, I knew I had to take it as far as I could–14 years is a long life as a dancer, in case u don’t know .  I put as much effort to making this dream actually come true.

Toward the tail end of my last world tour, I had an accident that landed me in the hospital for about a week and a half and in those moments I truly knew 1) thank god dance wasn’t “taken” from me 2) that I had really reached a point where I knew I had to move on and truly be happy with the career success I had already achieved! So yes, every dancer dies a little bit once only to be reincarnated in their “second life” and new career path. 

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Have you always been in love with hair and styling?

I’ve always LOVED hair and styling. Even as a young kid I was obsessed with my hair and I would often play with my younger sister’s hair. It was the kind of thing that I was always just infatuated with and how it can tie complete looks together and just always something I was really in love with.

How did you get the courage to finally make the switch from dancing to hair?

After my last world tour  it was those same gut instincts I had when I chose to dance that told me I have already “danced” it’s time to do hairstyling. There is no looking back for me.

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Where do you work now? 

I’m currently a stylist assistant and our salon space is special. It’s a small intimate space and I have the opportunity to watch and learn from six stylists at one time, all of which have extensive, accomplished resumes. They all have their own creative, personal touch and do things completely differently. I feel so gratetful to be in such a unique environment with super successful, positive and supportive peers!!  They kinda call me the salon octopus because there are many moments when I’m doing multiple things at once. 

What has been the hardest part about learning a new skill?

The hardest part of any new skill in my personally opinion is to get out of your own head and out of your own way. More simply said, make mistakes. Learn. Do it. And be better, push yourself.

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How long have you been doing hair now?

About two  years ! And I’ve come so far already!!!

What’s the best advice you’ve gotten so far?

Make mistakes. Learn from them. Be better.

What was your biggest learning experience?

To trust my instinct. Listen to yourself and be true to that. It will lead you and your heart in the right direction. My dance career was bigger than I could have ever dreamed! My hair career is only beginning and it’s already bigger than I could have ever asked for… I’m possibly getting written up on Mane Addicts … and IM NEW *pinch*. I’ve got a great support system at a great salon and just surround myself with awesome people. If put out good work, be great you will get the same and more!!


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What is your ultimate goal or achievement you want to hit?

I mean do I even have to answer this ?! . Jen Atkin is the epitome of hair to success and she’s a beautiful soul with mad talent and mad business skills.

I don’t know how to answer this other than to say success is what you make of it and how you define it. We are the makers of our own destiny and I truly truly have LIVED it in my own life and I truly believe there are no limits to success or goals–the possibilities are endless!!

::breaths::  that was a lot ❤️.

For more career advice, SEE what these seven top hairstylists have to say!

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