A Bakersfield dance instructor is stepping up his game in a big way with an appearance Friday on the "Today" show as one of five finalists in a dance contest.
Ephraim Penn, who owns PennPoint Dance Academy downtown, learned Monday that a video he slapped together and emailed on a whim had made the final cut in the morning program's "Show Us Your Moves" contest.
"I had heard from the woman (from the show) the Thursday before saying that she would call back, but it was already Monday," Penn said in a phone interview Wednesday.
"I was about to teach a class and I was in the middle of stretching them out. Then my phone started ringing and I saw it was from New York, and I said to the kids, 'Hold on -- I gotta take this call.'"
For his audition tape, Penn performed a hip-hop dance to "Let Me C It" by Get Cool, from the "Step Up 3D" soundtrack.
"Whenever I do auditions, I just freestyle," said Penn, who goes by the stage name E-Baby. "That's what I plan on doing Friday -- whatever comes to my mind.
Penn, 35, said he heard he'll be competing against dancers performing ballet, jazz and break-dance routines, which require a little more planning than his style.
"The negative about freestyling is you might forget to include moves you wanted to include, but the positive is that sometimes you do things you didn't know you could do."
Penn said a panel of celebrity judges, whose identities have yet to be revealed, will select the winner.
As far as he knows, the prize is the trip to New York and national exposure.
"I hope to network and possibly some other opportunities can open up. Maybe I can appear on some different shows, maybe get an agent. The fact I'm going to dance on national TV in front of everybody is a big enough prize for me."
Penn leaves for New York today with his 7-year-old son, Devin, who was featured in his audition tape.
If you want to catch Penn's performance, he advises tuning in between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. The instructor, who has been dancing since age 5, will have just 45 seconds to wow the judges and America.
"I'm really excited and nervous," Penn said. "I've never been to New York before and just because of the fact that it's new to me. I'm dancing on national TV. I'm just amped." Bakersfield instructor to compete on 'Today' show