How long have you been dancing?
Since I was about three.
Where are you from?
I am originally from Geneva, IL, which is a small suburb outside of Chicago.
When did you move to NYC?
It’ll be about 10 years in September.
Did you go to school here?
I went to school in upstate New York in Buffalo. SUNY Buffalo...Graduated really long time ago.
What are you up to now?
I am currently dancing for two small dance companies. One of them is actually based in Queens...It has a strong community outreach and we like to work with live musicians and utilize their music to build ballets. I’m also the artistic director of a dance school (All Star Studios) in Forest Hills.
What’s the name of the company?
The company I dance for is called Insight Dance Company, under the direction of Leeanne G-Bowley, and I also dance with LiNK! the movement, which is under the direction of Ginger Cox who teaches at Broadway Dance Center. They’re both awesome to work for. Both small companies but very close-knit community.
When did you decide to make dance your career?
I mean, I always knew. Maybe in high school when I was like, ‘I kinda want to do this.’ My parents have been pretty supportive about it--they were just like, ‘As long as you go to college, you can major in dance, you can do whatever you want to do after--you just have to go to college.’ So I was teaching in high school, and then I started choreographing my own dances for competitions and whatnot and I was like, ‘I like this.’ So I went to school for it and I also have a degree in business. A marketing degree. And then, going to school in upstate, a lot of people after school were going to move down to New York, because that just seemed like the most sensible thing to do. So that’s how I ended up here as opposed to LA, or going back to Chicago.
You started teaching in high school?
Yeah, like one or two classes at the studio I grew up at.
And your parents were super supportive about what you were doing?
Yeah. Absolutely. As long as I went to school. My mom, even when I was gonna move here, she came with me one weekend, and our goal was to find an apartment. And I did. She was really helpful in finding a place to live here.
Did you guys drive from Chicago?
No, we flew. I graduated, then I went home for a month, and I packed up two suitcases.
Two suitcases, and that was it?
That was it.
So you had to buy all your furniture here--
Thankfully, the first place I lived in was furnished so everything was there. But then like, as you live here longer, now I have stuff--a couch, and a bed.
Where do you see yourself going from here?
I still want to perform with the companies and still want to train. I’m interested now in creating my own company. I’ve been creating pieces on my friends and for festivals, and I think I want to make it official now. So, get funding and write grants, be able to pay them They’ve been really nice because they’re my friends. So I’ll be like, ‘Can you have rehearsal on this day?’ And they’re like “Yeah, absolutely.” So we’ve filled pieces that way. I think that’s the next step.
How do you feel about the community of dancers in New York?
I mean, I love it. There’s nowhere else, to me, that you could be. And you could get so much different kinds of dance, so I’ve mostly been taking classes at Broadway Dance Center, that’s like really hip-hop based, jazz, contemporary. And I’ve recently been traveling downtown and taking more modern classes and I don’t know--almost trying to reinvent myself a little bit. But it’s really cool that both of these extremes can be in New York.
What’s your favorite part of being in New York? Not just related to dance, but in general?
There’s always something to do. There’s always like a bar open; there’s always a restaurant to go to; there’s always like a music show; there’s always a dance show. Friends are always up. If you ever want to get a bite to eat at 1am, you can because everything is still open.
What’s your least favorite part, if any?
Rent. But I like the fast-pace, and I like having to hustle and move quickly to have ten things to do in one day. I guess that’s why I’ve been here so long.
Do you work any other side jobs?
No, not anymore. I do dance full-time. Actually, one of the companies, we get paid now-- which is pretty nice. But like teaching, and I’ve been really lucky to find a studio that I teach at. It’s like 20 minutes by subway--I don’t have to travel very far. The owner is really supportive and lets me take off time to go do shows and offers us health insurance, and pretty soon we’re going to be getting a 401k type thing. It’s pretty nice, and I’ve slowly but surely been able to drop the bartending job, drop all the little side jobs, and now I teach, dance and train.
So when did all that start happening for you--where you’re able to drop things that are not related to dance?
About four years ago, I made the decision to not do anything in the service industry, and I started teaching at two studios. Two years after, I dropped the other studio...because I didn’t like having to be like today I’m here and today I’m there. I just wanted to have one place, and so my boss was able to offer me enough hours where that could happen.
If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?
It would be to have my company be a legit thing and be able to collaborate with company members and create works and to continue training and use all the knowledge I gain in training to create dance pieces. Making it a real thing.
Anything that you want to share with the world?
It’s a good life. I like it. It’s nice to know you’re living your dream. Always wanted to do it, and I’m doing it. That’s what keeps me here.
In your dance career, was there ever a point where you felt like you had ran into a wall and couldn't go on anymore?
No--at times there’s nothing going on. And you’re just chill, but you’re proactive. There’s always a class to take. There’s always a show to go see. So even if you’re not performing or not working, there’s always something for you to do in your dance life. I mean, it’s your life. So try not to be like, ‘Oh, I don’t have this job right now’, or ‘I’m not making this much money right now.’ And it’s okay because you know it’s gonna go back up again soon. It’s nothing to really worry about.