How did you start dancing?
My mom tried to get me to dance for years, and I never wanted to. When I was five or six, my mom and I were at the local grocery store, and I told her I wanted to tap dance. She was like, “Are you kidding? I’ve been trying to get you to take ballet since you were three.” And I said, “No, I don’t want to take ballet. I want to take tap.” That was it. That’s how it started.
Do you remember any particular reason why you wanted to take tap?
I think I’ve always liked rhythms. So for me, tap was it. I knew drums weren’t an option, so tap was the next best thing.
Why do you think your mom wanted you to try to dance?
I think every mom wants her little girl to be in that tutu when she’s three and to be an absolute disaster on that stage. I think it’s just every mom’s dream [laughs].
What happened from there?
When I was around 11, I realized I should take other styles, so I started ballet and jazz. I also did a lot of theatre dance. In my ballet school, there was a great guy who danced with Fosse in all of his shows, so I gained a really strong Fosse background. Throughout high school, It was a constant battle for me between sports and dance, but I finally picked dance in the end.
How did you decide that dance was what you wanted to do?
I think a big thing for me was seeing Hairspray on Broadway in high school. I remember during the finale they did an encore of “You Can’t Stop The Beat.” I remember being up in the mezzanine and seeing the entire orchestra on their feet and all of us were on our feet too. I remember having that feeling of “This is it.This is what I want to do. I want to make people feel this way—the way that I felt during that encore.” I think that’s what got me here.
Where did you go to school?
I went to Oklahoma City University as a dance major. I was there for four years and graduated, and I’ve been in New York City for the past two.
How did you find out about OCU?
I told my dance teacher who I grew up with that I wanted to go to school for dance.She said I needed to go to a school with a strong tap program. The options were U of Arts, OCU, and I think Elon. I picked OCU because I liked their tap audition the best.
How did you move to New York?
I knew that I always wanted to end up here. When I was in college, I was figuring out if I was going to live with people from school or what was going to happen once I got to New York. I did a show in Oklahoma over the summer and then decided to move in the Fall. I was looking at sublets and found a long-term one that I liked. I didn’t want to stay home. I am from Jersey, so I was figuring out whether it’d be cheaper to commute everyday or to just live here. Cost-wise it was about the same, so I figured I’d ratherlive here and have an apartment to go back to after a long day of auditions.
What are you up to now?
I am in a tap company called Cats Paying Dues, directed by Andrew Nemr, but we’re taking a year off. I am about to go do White Christmas at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine. We’ll do that Thanksgiving through Christmas. I am also auditioning and taking lots of class and just living the dream.
How do you like living in New York?
I love it.
What’s your favorite part?
I don’t know if there’s a single favorite thing. I think the energy in the city is really great. It’s so cool and so exciting. It’s truly a city of endless possibilities. Day to day can be very challenging. Work is hard and so is the audition grind. It’s hard to balance going to your survival job, auditioning, and taking class. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
What are you currently doing as a survival job?
I bartend and serve at Percy’s BBQ and Darts which is on Lower East Side. It’s fun. I think it’s important to find a survival job you actually enjoy, otherwise you’re just going to be miserable in between dance jobs. I was balancing two restaurant jobs for a while, but I just quit one. I have some days off now, which is nice. I can use those days to take class.
What’s your least favorite part about living in the city?
The MTA. The trains are never reliable. But I don’t think I really have a least favorite part. I really do enjoy living here.
What are your aspirations?
I would love to do a national tour. I think that would be my goal. Everyone loves Broadway, and I would love to do Broadway. But for me, something that I have wanted to do since middle school and high school was a tour. You can see the world, the city, the country, and do a show. I think that would be so fun.
What would be your dream show?
That would be 42nd Street, but that ship has sailed. It’s a quintessential golden age musical—lots of tap, lots of legs—it’s perfect.
What would be your number one advice to people?
Don’t analyze every no. It’s a waste of your time, it’s a waste of your energy. Just because you get cut doesn’t mean you’re not talented or you’re not beautiful or you didn’t nail the combination. There are so many factors going on behind that table that you know nothing about. Consider yourself having a successful audition if you go there and present yourself in the best way possible and you feel great about what you showed to the creative team. Otherwise you will be miserable if you get down on yourself after every no you get. There are a lot of no’s, and that’s okay.
What’s been your toughest time as a dancer here?
I think adjusting my first year here, finding time to take class, balancing time to take class with working your survival job, and figuring out how to navigate New York City was tough. You need to take class every day. It’s something I look forward to now. Class has become my outlet where I get to perform because I am not really performing in a show right now. For me, the answers are always in class. Even if you are exhausted or you don’t want to go, you need to go back. You find classes like Al Blackstone’s that just give you soul cookies. It makes you remember why you do what you do and why you deal with all the bullshit.
Any teachers that you recommend?
Al. Absolutely. I also love Billy Griffin. Their classes are very similar. For tap, I love Ray Hesselink. He’s a perfect balance of musical theatre tap and rhythm tap, which I think is hard to find. Other than that, just take as many as you possibly can and figure out who you like. Every dancer has a different style and teaching preference.
Did you ever think about throwing in the proverbial towel?
I think more so in college I questioned a lot if I was doing the right thing, if I wanted to pursue this for the rest of my life. There definitely are days when you’re walking to auditions in the morning--you’re with everybody at Penn Station going to their 9-5, thinking, “Wow, that must be nice to have that consistency in your life. To be able to put on business clothes and know exactly what you’re doing, where you’re going, to have that security.” But at the same time, I wouldn’t trade this for anything. I would be so miserable at a 9-5. I am right where I am supposed to be.
When I am having a bad day, my go-to is always exercise, whether that’s a dance class or going to the gym. I don’t have a lot of downtime. If I am having a bad day--tough. I just have to keep going. You have to go to work, or go to that audition, or go to that class. I don’t really have time to think about where I should go or what I should do to cheer up. I just have to push through it.
Who has been one of your most influential teachers in life?
If I go back to OCU, it’d be either Brian Marcum or Diana Brooks, for sure. I feel like they always believed in me. Brian was so great because he’s been here and he’s done it. He gave such great advice and always pushed us. He’d say, “You guys have no idea how great you are and how well you will do.” I think that constant inspiration from him was always helpful. Diana is just so fierce and so cool. She was my role model for tap, especially. I think I tried to take her rhythm tap class every semester possible with my schedule. I loved her energy. I loved being around her. I loved how she pushed me. She was tough on us, but she was still sympathetic. It always came from a good place. You could tell that she still really cared
Is there any last thing you want to share with the world?
Trust your timing, trust the universe, and just do you. Persevere, believe in yourself, and trust you’ll get wherever you need to go.