What are you currently working on?
I am currently getting ready to open West Side Story, as Graziella/Dream Maria, at Riverside Dinner Theater in Fredericksburg, VA.
Where are you based out of?
I was born and raised just out side of St. Louis, MO and that is where I reside in between contracts. Its a nice break to see family and friends and explore more avenues of the performance world (ie: voice lessons, working with a Magician as his assistant/dancer, and helping gymnasts improve their dance technique). I have been blessed with open doors to my parents/friends homes each time I am home and its been so helpful to SAVE on renting while on contracts.
When did you start your training?
I grew up starting with playing soccer, always outside flying kites, rolling in the grass, and play HORSE (basketball game) with the neighbors. I didn’t really care too much for soccer but stayed with it for a couple years, until at 10 my next door neighbor Leah asked me to come to her pom-pom class… Who knew a pom-pom class would get me hooked but I didn’t want to leave. I remember coming home and begging, and then at Christmas being given a ballet slipper ornament with a card saying I will start with a ballet class in January! I was so excited but had a lot to catch up on! For the first year and a half (until I was 12) I was with 5/6 year olds just learning the basics and looking forward to dance classes. Our studio was small but there was such a great group of performers. I started getting into competition and danced with them until I was 16 and our studio closed down. I took my junior year of HS off and realized that I wanted this to be my career. I took a jazz and ballet class at another studio my senior year and applied to POINT PARK and never looked back! I had some incredible training from brilliant professors and added to that when I studied abroad my last semester, in Paris, at Studio Harmonic.
When did you decide you wanted to be a dancer?
I’m quite stubborn/Type A and I think the more I started thinking about it, looking into schools that offered dancing as a degree and then hearing others ask how I was going to make it work… well it then pushed me to realize how much more I wanted this and knowing that I would rather be happy loving what I do, making very little than the opposite. So if I had to really pinpoint a time of deciding on it being my career… was Senior Year of High School.
What was your first professional job as a dancer?
As a teacher/choreographer it was the year after I graduated and completed my yoga, pilates, and fitness certificates and was asked to teach in Ann Arbor, MI. As a dancer it was 2007 (after completing my year contract in MI) on Carnival Elation Cruise for 9 months. From there on out I have been blessed with some amazing contracts, in different areas/genres of dancing and with EXTREMELY TALENTED choreographers, directors, and fellow
performers. I’m in awe at the performers I have shared the stage with over the years. True blessings.
Who were your mentors and what roles did they play in your growth as an artist?
At my dance studio it was Ms. Christy(jazz) and Ms. Missy (ballet) for pushing me and believing in me.. although watching the other performers around you is also a way of helping you to achieve growth in your performance abilities. In college one of our ballet teachers Mr. Jay Kirk, and our jazz/contemporary teacher (Keisha). I took from so many different instructors at Studio Harmonic for 6 months that a lot of them were influential but on so many different levels. The four listed above will forever and always stick with me. I have too many to name in my professional career, because anyone that has cast me has been a huge role in my life due to their belief in me and helping me further my career. Above all of these is God for giving me this gift and drive, and my parents, family, and friends for their continued support. We all know its not easy and we will continue to have ups and downs, its how you push through and not give up that makes you a truly appreciate all the people that have come into your life.
What’s your favorite memory on stage?
As ridiculous as this may sound, I don’t have a FAVORITE because to me every moment on stage is a blessing, no matter who’s on stage with me or who is in the audience. The jobs are few and far between for how many of us are striving for this dream, so truly appreciating each time we step on stage can change your not only your outlook, but your life.
What is your favorite place you have ever performed?
Oh wow, hmm, I think the traveling at sea has been incredible.. I may not be performing on a stage in Italy or London…but some of the most incredible audiences have come from being on a cruise ship and I have been again, BLESSED, to experience some wonderful ports.
What has been your greatest triumph to date?
Honestly, all of my contracts have been a triumph. I’m forever grateful for the things I have been able to do/experience thus far and know that they all contributed to a ‘successful’ career. I’m not done performing, I know and truly feel that, so at this time I will say ALL. If one has to be chosen then what I’m doing now, WEST SIDE STORY, is my greatest triumph. I NEVER thought in a million years I would get to actually be cast in a
musical because I never believed (and still very much have a hard time) in my vocal/acting abilities. While I don’t have a lot of those particular parts in this show, its such a classic and such an honor to be a part of, so I choose THIS!
Was there a particular performance that changed your life or changed you as a dancer?
Nope, all have shaped me into the person I am/want to be as a performer. They all are different because of the directors, choreographers, staging, costumes, character roles, styles of dancing, and performers that are on stage. I have experienced new growth from each, and hope to continue on this journey. There is always room for growth and new things!
Do you have a pre-show ritual or superstition?
Yes, I have a little crocheted pocket that has a cross in it and before each and every show I take time out, and say prayers for the safety of every performer and to continue to share the joy I feel in my heart with the audience.
What inspires you to keep going?
Seeing others strive and making connections with individuals that aspire for the same journey- to be open minded and accept new adventures that the ‘entertainment’ world has to offer. There are so many and the more you open yourself up to new creations, sometimes you find you have more possibilities than you ever thought before.
Where do you see yourself in 15 years? Will you still be dancing?
Actually in 15 years, I don’t see myself dancing. I haven’t gotten down to knowing exactly what I’ll be doing, as a performer well, we all change our minds a lot! So I feel that when its time to stop performing, I’ll know because I’ll feel it in my heart. I’m not ‘scared’ of moving onto a different path one day, I just know its not yet. I’ll cross that bridge when it gets there. For now, I’m just going to to continue to be thankful for the contracts I do get, have had, and am currently on!
What are your goals outside of dance?
I love nutrition, I love helping others pursue and succeed in their careers, and I hope to continue to in some way or another following in those footsteps for the rest of my life.
Do you have any advice to give to other dancers whether they are just starting or in the thick of it?
As hard as it can get at times, and gosh there are so many talented individuals out there that can tell you no matter how good you are it CAN BE TOUGH… just know that there is going to be different opinions from one person to the next. As many no’s as you may receive, please please don’t give up. If this is your passion, your drive, and your life… DON’T LET THE NO’S OVERWHELM YOU. Accept them, be angry/upset/and emotional about them, but take a deep breathe and tell yourself that there is a reason for everything and its not one door shut and another open… its actually ONE SMALL WINDOW closed for a HUGE door to open!
What music are you listening to right now?
I listen to whatever I’m feeling that day. Sometimes it’s top hits, sometimes country, sometimes Christian, it is whatever helps me keep moving forward and feeling happy.
List five inspirations.
4. PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
5. SEEING OTHERS SUCCEED!