What are you currently working on?
Currently working with The Blue Man Group, America’s Got Talent and an upcoming 2013 tour for The Aluminum Show.
Where are you based out of?
When did you start your training?
I have been moving and dancing forever. Studio life as a young boy and then to The Professional Performing Arts School (associated with Alvin Ailey) for High School.
When did you decide you wanted to be a dancer?
I will know this moment forever. It is embedded in my mind and my soul. I knew I wanted to be a dancer when my mother got me a ticket to Madonna’s, The Girlie Show tour. I knew from that VERY MOMENT that THAT’S what I wanted to do and do it exactly like THAT. I am a friends with one of the dancers from that tour and he has inspired me from that day all the way through the present time and he always will. His name is Carlton Wilborn. He is majestic, alive, drenched in soul and execution. I am a lucky young man to have been touched by him as an artist as well as EACH DANCER and CHOREOGRAPHER and producer from that tour. NOTHING has come close to what that tour was. It truly was life changing and even more importantly, life giving.
What was your first professional job as a dancer?
I think many people lose sight of the fact that “professional” would be defined as getting paid for that very job/gig- in whatever genre of work someone in interested in. Having said that, I first got paid to teach as a young boy at a dance studio Star Struck Dance Studio in Staten Island, New York- that my cousin Gail Criscione owns, whom was lucky enough to press forward with what she wanted to do once she was crowned Miss Staten Island 1989.
Who were your mentors and what roles did they play in your growth as an artist?
Everyone at Alvin Ailey, from the staff, to the dancers, my classmates, to the musicians and all in-between. Having gone there was truly a gift and there wasn’t a moment while in school where I didn’t know that I was walking around the royalty of New York! (That’s what they are, were and always will be in my eyes.) In particular Earl Mosley, Cassandra Phiffer and Robert Atwood. Of course there were many others that left their footprint on my chest but these three masters in particular let me be the dancer I WAS. They were never busy trying to make me the dancer THEY WANTED ME TO BE or the type of dancer that I just WASN’T ABLE TO BE. They somehow felt so nurturing and non judgmental. I realize in hindsight, I was never the type of technical dancer I needed to be in school but growing up and realizing that has truly allowed me to hone in on my strengths. Those dancers/teachers stuck with me and I speak of my dancing the way I do because they were so impactful.
What’s your favorite memory on stage?
Any memory where my family or friends are present. I am so fortunate for them.
What is your favorite place you have ever performed?
I can’t say just yet 😉
What has been your greatest triumph to date?
My heart. My emotions. My sense of self and sense of how this universe is the most splendid thing I’ll have ever come upon.
Was there a particular performance that changed your life or changed you as a dancer?
The Aluminum Show. The cast, the team, the work, the chance I was given and the way work will ALWAYS teach you something new. I value that moment in my life and I will truly cherish that as something special, eternally.
Do you have a pre-show ritual or superstition?
To be alone for a little while. To centre my mind, to thank this world for what it’s done and doing for all of us. To focus on breathing. To spend a few moments wishing some people I have loved in my life could share in the joy that is, SHOW TIME for me. To be thankful for this life, this love as well as this able body and able mind.
What inspires you to keep going?
Love & The gift of movement.
Where do you see yourself in 15 years? Will you still be dancing?
I can’t answer this. I can only look to the sky! My small moves are only slightly related to my future that is written out for me. I’m anxious to know what may or may not lie ahead . . . I, undoubtedly, would like to be in the arts forever.
What are your goals outside of dance?
Some are private. I don’t want to hurt anyones feelings. I want to be the type of person full of love and less judgements. I want to be the best version of me for my parents who worked so hard to enable my siblings and myself to have such a fortunate life. I’d like to dance for Beyonce. I’d like to be in The Lion King’s ensemble. I’d like to tell a handful of people that I’m sorry and that I will love them forever. Some of my friends may laugh at this . . . my real goal is just to be better.* How long can this response be? hahaha
*(“Just be better” refers to inside joke)
Do you have any advice to give to other dancers whether they are just starting or in the thick of it?
Love yourself. Love everyone else while you’re at it. Dance is truly a gift. It is a means of communication. It is a tool we can use to vent, to celebrate, to cast, to mourn, to cherish or to share with the world. Now granted this is coming from somoene who is not so technically sound nor inclined but dance isn’t always about your technique. It’s not. There are lots of genres of dance. It’s not about worrying about the dancer next to you and what they are doing. It’s not about how high your leg gets nor is it about how many turns you can do. Yes, all of those things are perks and spectacles to look at . . . but when it all hits the fan it’s about YOU. It’s about your ability to execute from the INSIDE OUT. To drench and soak movement in whatever it is that, IS YOU. No matter what style or technique of dance- leave your mark and mean it. Leave your mark and mean it for YOU.. NOT for a producer, NOT because you are competing with a dancer next to you, NOT because you need the money, NOT because a casting director is watching but because you know your body was made to move. Because you HAVE to move to feel something right in this world. We are a special breed. Know that, embrace it and love it!
What music are you listening to right now?
List five inspirations.
Heartbreak. My mother. The gift of movement. The human body. Love.