From Aiken County to Beyoncé​'s stage.

One Aiken native shares her experience of dancing with A-listers and how she plans to help local dancers through a web-based talent contest. She returns home to inspire.  

“I love being home,” Kayla Frails said. “It’s so refreshing. Aiken High has grown so much; this school looks totally different. To just be here is kind of nostalgic, because I remember talking to my best friends and saying, ‘I’m moving to L.A. to be a dancer.’"

The former Miss Aiken High 2012 has been an L.A.-based professional dancer for six years. She’s had the opportunity to perform with many artists, including Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Chris Brown, Will Smith, Beyoncé, Keke Palmer and so many more.

“This school has continued to be connected to leaders in all areas of our city, state and world,” Aiken High School Principal Dr. Jason Holt said. “Ms. Kayla Frails is a wonderful example of a graduate that continues to impact the world in a tremendous manner. There is no doubt that her skills, passion, and leadership will continue to make this world a better place. We are excited to call her a fellow Hornet."  

Of Frail’s many accolades, one of her biggest dreams was to dance for Beyoncé. As she reflected on not being chosen for Beyoncé’s “Formation” tour – where she was cut with only 20 girls left – she stated that Coachella was “the right project" for her.

Coachella is an annual music and arts festival held in Indio, California. Beyoncé was the first African-American female to ever headline Coachella in 2018. The performance also was made into a Netflix documentary called "Homecoming" in April 2019. 

“It was so nice to just be a part of something like that, on a stage where it had never been done before,” Frails said. “And working with her (Beyoncé), she was really instilling those values in us. And saying, ‘This is not about you, this is not about dance, this is about our culture. It’s bigger than us, and this is going to be legendary.’”

To land the "legendary" Coachella spot, Frails explained it was a bit of a yo-yo experience for her. 

“It was hard,” Frails said. “I got the call saying I got the job, and then a few days later they said, ‘You’ve been released from the job.' And then another time, 'You got the job,' and then, 'You’ve been released.' So when I finally got the job, I called my mom and she was like, ‘Are you sure?’ and I replied, ‘I’m pretty sure I have rehearsal tomorrow.' So my family kind of knew, but I couldn’t really tell anyone until the day of the show. After the show, I just remember crying because of all the support. It was a feeling of all this hard work had finally paid off.”

The dancer’s mother, Renee Frails, described her daughter as being joyful, persistent and hard working.

“It was exciting that she got to do something she dreamed about, and I went to Coachella,” Renee Frails said. “It was fun. I remember saying, ‘That’s my baby up there, on that stage.’ I will always be a dance mom.”

Kayla Frails is excited to get into the local community to encourage dancers. 

“I really wanted to bring this dance contest to my hometown because I wish I had something like this before stepping into the entertainment industry,” Frails said.

The contest is web-based on Frails' Instagram @kfrails. Follow the instructions, and complete your submission before the deadline of Nov. 24. The winner receives four free training sessions with Kayla. The sessions will take place in the Aiken-Augusta area. 

“If there’s a dancer in the Aiken area that is wanting to pursue this as a career,” Kayla said. “I just want them to understand that, there’s so much to learn beyond their talent. Being the best dancer doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to get the job. Really start thinking of yourself as an entrepreneur, and of how you would brand yourself as a business.”

Want to participate?

What: Talent contest: Professional dancer Kayla Frails is looking for a special artist to win four free 1-on-1 training sessions.

How: Instagram @kfrails 

Deadline: Midnight, Sunday, Nov. 24

Michel'le Jackson is a multimedia journalist with the Aiken Standard.