Douglas Robbins

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What are you currently working on?

A Christmas Carol at the Palace Theater in Manchester, NH.

Where are you based out of?

Williamsport, Pennsylvania. I have been taking charter buses into NYC for auditions for the past year and a half or so, hopefully with the New Year (2013) I’ll be able to base myself out of NYC!!

When did you start your training?

I started training when I was 18 in college. I attended college at SUNY Cortland in Cortland, NY for musical theater. The program as a minimum requires one ballet a semester plus 2 dance electives. Shortly into my first semester there my ballet teacher saw that I was picking up things quickly and I soon found myself in dance class from eight in the morning until seven at night and then running to rehearsal in the evenings. They were truly incredible there, and I can not begin to express my thanks to them for investing so much of their time, energy and love into me. Not only did they give me a foundation as a dancer and a performer but they gave me experience as a young dance teacher and a choreographer as well- essentially everything I would need for a life in dance, and at that young age, how can you even begin to understand what you are being given?

When did you decide you wanted to be a dancer?

When I realized I could be good at it. I spent most of my life never really believing I could be good at anything, but it eventually had become undeniable that dance was something that I could do, and after I realized that I COULD do it, I dove right in without looking back. I will never forget the moment I felt as if I had “become” a dancer though- I’ll always remember it as an entirely surreal moment. Ironically, it had nothing to do with achieving something in dance- it didn’t come from an extra turn or a spectacular leap, it arrived in the smallest and most unexpected of ways. I was in a ballet class during my first year of college, and it came a time when I was exiting a relationship I really wanted to work and at a time when my family was going through a lot, I also felt that I was so far away from so many of my close friends that first year in college. Anyway, I remember it was at the barre, I remember we were doing battement fondue and we were turning around to the other side. I was burning hot and my mind was just flooded with these different things that were stressing me, and then I felt the cool metal of the barre beneath my left hand….I just had this overwhelming feeling of belonging, and certainty….and also reliability. I was so shocked and grateful for this feeling that I began to tear up in class. My teacher walked by, and she almost gave corrections to everyone as she made her way around class, and she took one look at my face and just continued on. I was so happy she noticed, and I was so happy she didn’t ask.

What was your first professional job as a dancer?

Tap dancing in Crazy for You! I was having a blast as a dancer and an assistant dance captain with one of my best friends, and I was most definitely crazy for somebody. It was a truly beautiful time.

Who were your mentors and what roles did they play in your growth as an artist?

My primary mentors were a husband and wife team- Kevin and Cindy Halpin. They, to this day, have given me my technique and my own style as a dancer and a performer- they were always incredible about giving me opportunities to fine my own artistry in dance- sometimes it was by teaching for them sometimes it was for choreographing for them and sometimes it was in performing for them. They are incredible, they took an 18 year old with no experience and lanky limbs and worked ceaselessly to make him a dancer, often believing in this kid when he didn’t believe in himself. Cindy was my ballet instructor and she was incredible about consistency and persistence as a teacher- there was most definitely a right and a wrong way to do everything in her own class. Kevin, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. It would not be uncommon to do an entire dance for Kevin and have no true vocabulary for any of the positions or steps! Between the two of them I received and incredible mixture of order and chaos at the same time and I think when I look at the performer I am today that’s what I think people see.

What’s your favorite memory on stage?

I don’t know if I have an absolute favorite, there are so many wonderful ones. I do have a little ritual for every opening though- I take a moment to thank God for letting me do what I love and blessing me to be lucky enough to do it. Then I have a bit of a cry and I walk on stage.

Do you have a pre-show ritual or superstition?

(See Above) Also I always have coffee before a show…and more often than not I’ll have chocolate too!

What is your favorite place you have ever performed?

I honestly think it would be my college, it was like being at home there. I remember my freshman year I got on the cherry picker and went to the top of the proscenium and painted my initials on the back of it in red paint….they are renovating the theater now. I hope my initials make it through!

What has been your greatest triumph to date?

I have no idea, but I think if your a dancer, every audition, every job, every performance is a bit of a triumph. Some larger than others, but triumphs none the less.

What inspires you to keep going?

Just the desire to perform! There are so many stories I want to tell, and every show is a chance to tell a different story.

Where do you see yourself in 15 years? Will you still be dancing?

Hopefully in 15 years I am choreographing for a living, for my own dance company, which will be famous. A boy can dream right?

What are your goals outside of dance?

To live a happy life, to have a husband and kids. And of course a dog too!

Do you have any advice to give to other dancers whether they are just starting or in the thick of it?

Don’t give up, and above all believe in yourself. You can do it, and you can do more than you think you can, just keep working hard and pushing yourself!

What music are you listening to right now?

Ingrid Michaelson is playing in the living room of my cast house. Privately I am listening to a lot of Jason Mraz, P!nk, Beyonce, and Meatloaf these days.

List five inspirations.

1. Music
2. Nature
3. Emotions
4. Seeing some one else do something incredible
5. Hope

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