During Monday’s NBC Christmas special Holidays With the Houghs, mixed in among the high-octane musical numbers, celebrity appearances by Kelly Clarkson, Ne-Yo and Ciara, and the hilarious comedy sketches from dancing siblings Derek and Julianne Hough was a young dancer who caught our eye because he was talented enough to keep up with Derek Hough. The young man’s name is Ashur Ronan Taylor, who writes on Instagram that he felt like they created “epic holiday magic” during the special.
Here’s what we know about this super talented young dancer:
1. Ashur Grew Up in California, Where His Dad Works as a Science Fiction & Fantasy Author & Publisher
This almost-14-year-old star in the making is a native of Carlsbad, California, an inland suburb of San Diego. His dad is Scott Taylor, a native of Monticello, Indiana, who attended Indiana University along with Ashur’s mom. Scott Taylor, whose Amazon bio describes him as a “publishing jack-of-all-trades, is the owner and founder of Art of the Genre publishing.
Art of the Genre was created to “foster new stories” from artists Jeff Easley, David Deitrick, and Jeff Laubenstein. The company aims “to bring back some of the creative spark that has gone out of the Science Fiction/Fantasy field in the past twenty years.”
Scott Taylor’s Amazon bio says he’s that in addition to being an author and editor, he’s “an avid reader, gamer, and art collector and is always looking for a way to link artists and authors together in fantastic collaborative works.”
According to one of his dad’s Facebook posts, Ashur decided to become a vegetarian at age 3 and it stuck until at least age 7. We don’t know if he still is one, but neither of his parents is a vegetarian and he still went through with it. He’s a “stubborn little guy,” as his dad writes.
2. Ashur Has Won Numerous Accolades, Including a National ‘Artist of the Year’ Award in 2017
Taylor has earned dozens of dancing accolades, including being in the Top 3 Junior Male Dancers of the Year at the 2019 Dance Awards and being named National Junior Male Maximum Velocity Artist of the Year for 2017.
He says of that honor, “My year traveling with @velocitydanceconvention and @velocitymvaplus as the 2017 National Jr Male MVA was the best year of my life!! I don’t have a picture of everyone, but know that you ALL helped me become a better dancer and person this year!! I really can’t put in to words how this year changed my life, or what you all mean to me, but I can say that it is ALL LOVE, and nothing else.”
Ashur frequently partners with Chloe Lucas and Gianna Mojonnier and attends Danceology Performing Arts Campus, a studio that “provides a nurturing, well-balanced and family-oriented environment where education and creativity co-exist while inspiring our students to pursue their own dreams through the arts.”
3. Ashur Starred in a Music Video for a Band Called ‘Half the Animal’
Ashur’s first music video was playing the younger version of the lead singer of Half the Animal in their video for “Hi Lo” off their Summetime High EP.
Half the Animal is an alternative pop rock group made up of Chase Johnson, Nick Gross, Dan Graham, and Max Benson. When the band first formed, they were known as Open Air Stereo, gaining national attention on MTV’s Laguna Beach reality show. They later broke up and then got back together in 2018 under the name Half the Animal. In the music video, Ashur plays the younger version of lead singer Johnson.
Ashur says on Instagram that he was “so excited to be a part of this awesome project!! ” and that it was “the best” experience and Johnson responds, “Love you, lil bro.”
4. Ashur Wants People to Know That Dance Isn’t Just for Girls
Ashur tags most of his posts with the hashtag #boysdance too and earlier in the year he posted a video of choreographer/dancer Travis Wall addressing the scandal where Good Morning America host Lara Spencer made fun of Prince George for wanting to take ballet.
“Thank you @traviswall for doing the right thing and for being a voice and inspiration for boy dancers. Just like ballet, it’s not always easy, but it’s very important,” writes Ashur.
And dancing isn’t the only area where Ashur excels. Earlier this year, he was honored at a luncheon of U.S. military engineers for his science fair project. Ashur and his partner Tom built a device that identifies and alarm triggers for different species entering a control area, according to his dad’s Instagram.
5. Ashur’s Travel Adventures Include Zip-Lining & Swimming With Sharks
Ashur has posted photos to Instagram of himself free diving, swimming with sharks, and exploring a cave in the ocean when he was just 11 and 12 years old. His birthday is in February, making him a Pisces, which Ashur says gives him a connection to the water.
On one trip to the beach at Catalina Island for his aunt’s wedding, Ashur went snorkeling with his grandfather and then zip-lining for two hours with his friend Efren — and Ashur even went backward. His dad says he loves Ashur’s “no hesitation” on the zip line.
He also loves to go boating and kayaking with his family when they vacation in Vinalhaven, Maine — that vacation even included a small cliff diving excursion at a quarry.
If you missed Ashur on the Houghs’ Christmas special, never fear — Holidays With the Houghs will be rebroadcast on Monday, December 23 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.