"For me, I’ve had to learn to stop asking for permission. I want artists and people in general to stop asking for permission when it comes to really fighting for your dreams. At some point you have to own it. You have to own and not wait for somebody else to give you the OK. You have to just start and do it. Because I feel as if we wait for somebody to be like, “Okay you’re ready now.” But you just have to jump and hope that you’re going to land on both feet. If you don’t, you gotta figure out what happened and jump again and figure out how to land on both feet."
Cece, a recent graduate of Harvard Law School, is currently working as a lawyer in New York City:
“It wasn’t until high school that I started dancing. My high school had a good dance team, and I wanted to be a part of it. For one year, I just got really serious about making the team and took a bunch of dance classes. I would go to studios and take classes pretty much everyday. It was a lot of commitment and devotion in that one year. It was tough. I didn’t realize that dancing was hard and required a lot of training, but my lack of knowledge made it easier for me to dive in. Miraculously, I made the team—and immediately tore my ACL. I had worked so hard to make the team, but I couldn’t do what I wanted to do..."
“Don’t give up. Try not to take the negativity around you. Do what makes you happy. I remember when I was living in Paris, I wanted to come to America and dance with the Rockettes. There were some people around me who questioned what I wanted to do and if I was making the right decision. But I knew what I wanted to do, and it happened. So I’d tell her that she’s got this.”
“You’re enough. Right now. In this very moment. It took me 32 years to actually start to believe this. We spend most of the time listening to the nagging voice in our head, the one that constantly criticizes everything we do and think it's the truth. But it's absolutely not. If we talked to our friends the way we talk to ourselves, well, we wouldn’t have any friends. It's important to develop self compassion and begin being nicer to yourself. That's when the real magic happens."
“I went in as an immediate replacement for the National Tour of 42nd Street. When I got to the tour, I learned the show with the dance captains in four days. My put-in was on the fifth day. While I was learning the show that week, I got a really bad flesh-eating disease on my left foot—not very convenient for tap dancing..."
“I toured with Matilda and got to perform at the Hobby Center in Houston, my hometown, where I used to go see shows. It was so strange. I was standing on the stage knowing exactly where I sat in the audience for Wicked, Legally Blonde, Sister Act, Rent, The Lion King—I knew exactly how old I was when I saw those shows and was thinking about how I had no idea I was going to do musical theatre until I saw Rent all the way at the top of the balcony. That night I told myself that I would be coming out of that stage door one day. And I did..."
“I moved into a room that was about 5 by 5 in Bushwick. I could touch both sides of the wall with both hands. Although I am from Boston, I never really came here as a kid, so I didn’t know what New York City was like. I slept on an air mattress for six months until I could finally afford a real mattress. At the time, I worked retail full-time and would go to auditions on my off-days and see what I could do..."
“I had a really crazy experience. I auditioned for the national tour of Matilda and had all these callbacks. After the second to last callback, all my friends who were there started texting me that they had gotten a callback. I was staring at my phone, and it wasn’t ringing. I thought I did a good job and they liked me, but I didn’t get a callback.
On the day of the callback, I took off work and went to ballet class. After class, I was still bummed, so I said, “You know what? I am not done dancing. I was supposed to dance all day. I am going to go to a jazz class too.” After jazz class, I look at my phone, I have two missed calls, three text messages, and a voicemail from this New York number that I don’t know...."
"Just be a good person. No one deserves to be treated with any less respect than anyone else. Embrace people's differences instead of discriminating against someone who isn't an exact clone of you. You never know who you might meet if you step outside of your comfort zone."
“You really can’t give up. If you know that you’re good enough—if something is telling you in your gut that you will do it, then you have to stick it through to the very end. There is so much rejection in this field, but if you know that you’re meant to do the job, then you have to keep going until you get it..."
“When I was 17, I had a terrible eating disorder. I was running everyday. I’ve always been a Type-A person, and I got really restrictive with myself. It escalated, and I ended up losing way too much weight. I was 6 feet tall and just under 100 pounds..."
"My path of how I got here is different—I didn’t go to school for musical theatre. I grew up dancing and playing music. After my brother and I cut off our record deal, he moved to Nashville to pursue more music opportunities, and I went to school for nursing. I was teaching dance at that time and still playing music here and there, but that lack of training and performing really ate at my soul and that's when I knew this was my path—I had to be performing. Music or dance, I had to do it. That's when I discovered musical theatre, the combination of the two things I loved the most. I moved to New York City 3 months later and haven't looked back since..."
“Don’t forget the reason why you’re dancing in the first place. You dance because you love it. You have to find that connection, remember who you are deep down, and forget the rest. Don’t lose the meaning of your dancing.”
"It's the music that makes it exciting and the music that makes it fun, but I also like the the routine. The plies, the tendus—it’s all very comforting. No matter what other noise or stress there is, whatever anything is happening in your world, you can go to a studio and center yourself with the same movements you’ve been doing since you were 4. When I'm having the hardest times, that's where go because that’s what I need.”
“After high school, I moved out to LA hoping that I could dance for Janet. As soon as I got out there it was turning much more into a jazz funk and hip-hop world, and I was a contemporary dancer. It was a tough time—I think I did maybe one music video. I didn’t do a tour with a big artist. I was figuring out who I was as a dancer and had to learn how to expand my vocabulary to adapt to new and different styles of dance..."
“I was working at a bakery for $9/hour plus tips in the East Village. I just remember coming home at midnight after a shift at the bakery and taking off my bakery shirt that smelled like smoky cheese and sugar. I would put the shirt on my chair and sleep on this roll-out pop-up trundle bed with a little wire twin mattress. I would wake up halfway across the room because it was on wheels. I’d wake up at 6 in the morning throwing that nasty, smelly shirt back on my body and hustling in the freezing cold, as I was sick, to get to this job I didn’t care about. My body hurt from standing 12 hours the day before. And then at 2:30 I’d run to go to my other job..."
“I’ve been thinking a lot lately about having pride in our accomplishments. In the audition room among performers (and myself included), there’s a sense of never feeling like we’ve gotten to where we want to get to, and we always get down on ourselves for that. But we should really think about how far we’ve come—even just moving to New York and choosing this as a career—I think that’s a big accomplishment.
We should try to think a little bit more about how far we’ve all come in this career so far and find a sense of pride in that while still striving to reach the next level. Remember every accomplishment you have because you should be proud of them.”
“I know that I wouldn’t be able to live the rest of my life without having given myself the chance to pursue this. It’s hard to describe, but it’s like you don’t feel like you have a choice. Once you dance, you always dance, and it becomes such a part of your identity that there’s no way that I could go get one of these marketing jobs and close that piece of who I’ve been for all those years.”
"There was a time when I had booked a big job but wasn't able to do it because I didn't have my green card. I was pretty devastated. As disappointed and frustrated as I was at the situation, I accepted the reality of it and focused on making steps towards getting my green card. Going through that time definitely tested my resilience and self-belief, but it strengthened me and made me focus on exactly what I needed to do to make it happen..."