Nicholas Palmquist

In the space of two weeks, 417-lander Nicholas Palmquist landed roles on two of the hottest shows on television.

Matt Lemmon | Photo by Tanner Hanley

Jul 2014

Nicholas Palmquist, who is originally from Mount Vernon, recently appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live.

Did you know that a 417-lander appeared on both The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live within a 14-day period in March and April? And it isn’t the 417-lander you are probably thinking of. Mount Vernon native Nicholas Palmquist has been a dancer since the age of 10. Trained at Ann’s Performing Arts Studio in Springfield, Palmquist did primarily jazz dance but has worked in ballet and hip-hop, among other genres. After graduating from Oklahoma City University last May, Palmquist moved to Manhattan with his fiancée, Sarah Shelton, to pursue their careers: hers in theater, his in dance. Networking efforts—and, perhaps, his uniquely tall build and vivid red hair—paid off earlier this year when he landed jobs on The Tonight Show and SNL. We caught up with Palmquist to talk about his (thus far) bite-size bits of fame. 


417 Magazine: How does one get called to dance to “Footloose” with Kevin Bacon on the hottest show in late night? 

Nicholas Palmquist: I got a call from my agent to see if I was available to do The Tonight Show. I had to cancel an out-of-town dance judging gig—that’s my “survival job”—to do it. It was crazy for my first job in the city to be at 30 Rock. It’s so iconic. I wasn’t sure if I was auditioning or what, but I just got it. The choreographer loved me and my hair and my look—she had seen a head shot of me and picked me based on that. I’ve learned that’s how a lot of these things happen.


417: What was the dance like? 

N.P.: A lot of the group—there were 13 of us—were regulars. I was the newbie and tried not to act too green, to play it cool. The bit was a digital short, with only the end of it live—a little mock thing of Footloose. It wasn’t an amazing dance, but it was super-fun. And the bit was all over everywhere. I think it has something like 13 million views online.


417: You got to meet Kevin Bacon. What was he like in person?

N.P.: He was super-nice, quiet and almost shy. Footloose was 30 years ago, so I’m sure he felt a little pressure. We didn’t have much time to hang out with him, but he was really nice.


417: How did you get to be on Saturday Night Live

N.P.: Two weeks later, that same choreographer called. None of this is groundbreaking stuff, but I had made a good connection with her during the first job. SNL is something I’d grown up watching with my brothers. It’s just another iconic thing I got thrown into. There were only six of us this time, and again it wasn’t super-technical. It was part of Anna Kendrick’s monologue [spoofing Beauty and the Beast]. It was fun, fast-paced and really cool to see how SNL works.


417: Since you’re on this choreographer’s contacts list, do you think you’ll be doing this often?

N.P.: I would love to do SNL again. I’d never realized or appreciated just how much talent is on that show, how fast-paced it is, and how versatile everyone is. 


417: What’s next for you? 

N.P.: To me, it’s good to go one day at a time. You don’t want to get stuck on a certain high, for one thing, and miss what may come along next. I’m testing the musical theater scene. Eventually I’d like to be in L.A. and see what that’s like. The sky’s the limit, and I’m in a good place to be able to do anything right now.


Nicholas Palmquist in Action

Want to see a fellow 417-lander share the stage with Kevin Bacon and Anna Kendrick? Watch the videos below to see him perform on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live.


Keep an eye out for Nicholas Palmquist toward the end of this video. He’s in the crew dancing with Kevin Bacon as part of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.


Nicholas Palmquist joined the cast of Saturday Night Live to help Anna Kendrick start the show with her musical monologue.