How did you find out about Dancers of New York?
I found out about Dancers of New York through Alicia, my good friend from school. I checked out the blog, and I got really excited. So then I reached out and was like, “Please let me be a part of it!”
Tell me a little bit about how you started dancing.
I started dancing when I was 12. My dad put me in tennis when I was little. I had watched the Nutcracker and had done a little bit of gymnastics and just really wanted to try dancing. I got hooked as soon as I started. I started ballet when I was 12, and then just never stopped.
How did you know that you wanted to become a professional dancer?
I always had this dream in my head that I would be in a ballet company for a little while and then do Cats in Europe for the rest of my life. I wanted to do the European national tour of Cats.
After high school, I didn’t really know if I wanted to do it professionally. With ballet, you usually don’t go to college for the most part. I took a year off to see if I could pursue ballet or music theatre. The more I pursued music theatre, I realized I needed the training that college could provide. Music theatre was a little bit different than ballet. I didn’t get into the ballet companies I auditioned for, so I was skipping to the Cats part of my dream. I took that year to audition for music theatre schools. Even when I got to college, I wasn’t completely sure. I took a full year to figure it out. After the first year of OCU and Music Theatre Wichita, I was like, “Yeah. This is what I want to do.”
When was it that you figured you wanted to be in a ballet company or be a part of the European Cats tour?
I had the video, for some reason, of Cats and just watched it over and over again to the point where I knew all the choreography backward and forward. I would spend my time learning the Cats choreography in my basement.. With ballet, my mom would take me to the Nutcracker, and I just fell in love with that. I didn’t pursue it because I was playing sports, but then when I was 12, I was like, “No, this is what I really want to do.”
You had the videos before you started dancing?
I can’t remember. My mom always had us listening to musicals in the car or watching musical videos. I didn’t see a Broadway show until I was in end of high school, but we used to watch videos all the time. I think that’s where it all sparked. I would try to do little things in school here and there, but I was on this tennis path. It was around 12 that I wanted to see what it would feel like to actually pursue dance.
It sounds like you had a very specific goal at a very young age.
I’ve always been that way. I’ve always had a very direct image of what I want. Everything that I do has to be furthering me towards that goal. I’ve always been that kind of person. I’ve simmered down a little bit since college, but I’ve always been that way.
How has having specific goals helped you?
I think it gave me clear direction. Even if I switched it a little bit--obviously ballet companies and Cats are not what happened to me. But each year, I could edit it a little bit. In high school, you’re juggling so many different things. Having that clear vision in high school helped me with juggling so many different things, and in college, the same thing happened. You can get pulled into a lot of different directions, and I always knew what I wanted while I was in college. I think I had a really productive four years of college, making that goal happen.
What was your college experience like?
I went to Oklahoma City University for dance. I had auditioned for basically every music theatre program in the country and didn’t get into any of them. I didn’t know at first that OCU had a dance program. I was actually auditioning for music theatre. When I auditioned for them, I realized that there is a dance program. Dance was more of my background anyway--I needed more singing and acting, but I didn’t want to lose my dance either. A lot of the dance programs are so contemporary or balletic, and OCU was a perfect fit for me. I had never tapped before, so I knew that was important. I had such a strong background in dance, but I needed the jazz, and I needed the tap. I could also jump over to the music theatre school and take extra acting, extra voice. I actually wasn’t super social. I am a very goody two-shoes student. My big trip on the weekends was to the grocery store.
OCU definitely helped me by giving me a certain level and certain standard of being organized and presenting yourself--all those qualities that they push. In school, I didn’t think the pedagogy classes would pertain to me, but I ended up coming to New York and having to teach masterclasses. Now I am teaching FlyBarre, so the pedagogy class was a foundation that I didn’t know I would need. I am excited that I got that foundation while I was there. I was really lucky with the fact that I came in with a lot of credits already done, so I was able to take a lot of extra acting and singing in addition to all the other stuff.
A big part of my college years was Music Theatre Wichita, where I got to do so many shows each summer. I just felt like that was my extra part of my college years that solidified everything I learned in school. I kept building on there and building connections when I came to New York.
It sounds like Music Theatre Wichita was like an internship.
Totally. Yeah, exactly. It was awesome.
When you first got to OCU, you didn’t tap at all?
Not really. I did enough that I got into level 2. Don’t know how that happened. But I think I smiled enough and looked like I knew what I was doing.
What about acting and singing?
On singing, I had touched lightly because I had been with a voice teacher to audition for music theatre programs, but that was pretty much all I had. Even when I was in ballet, I remember being a little more animated or singing randomly in class. I always had that urge to do both singing and dancing. I wasn’t necessarily technically the best at dance, but I loved it. I loved to show that I did it. What switched me over to music theatre was that I went to Debbie Allen’s summer program in LA, and we had to do all different things. Until then, I had pretty much only done ballet and some jazz at summer intensives and stuff. But we had to do music theatre classes as well. That’s when I was like, this is it. This is what melds it all together for me. That’s when I really shifted and started pursuing music theatre.
What happened after college?
After college, I had one more year at Music Theatre Wichita. I did some leads there, so I was able to get my equity card before I moved here, which was really a huge blessing. I moved here in August. This August, it will be five years ago.
I didn’t have enough money to get my own apartment, so I subletted. I think I moved 6 or 7 times my first year. I lived in Chelsea, Upper West Side, Queens, East Side, and Midtown all in one year. I did not like it when I first moved here. It was a lot. Having a safe space, when you come here, is really important. But I didn’t know if I was gonna be going out on a tour randomly or doing a regional thing, so I didn’t want to put roots down yet. I wanted to give it a year. I am from Maryland, so I’d have two suitcases, and I’d go home almost every weekend and switch out some clothes and bring them back.
I ended up auditioning for Anything Goes. I went to an open call. I had an agent from showcase, but I went to the open call, and he was like “Yeah, you’ve already been submitted for this, but good for you for being eager and coming to the open call.” I just kept auditioning, and by October, I had booked Anything Goes. That was pretty surreal. I was working at Equinox, doing their student internship where you get a free membership and you go out on the street and give the things out to people. I found out that I booked Anything Goes while I was working there, and I was like, screaming around Equinox, crying on the street.
Again, I know I am kind of a person who gives 100% to whatever it is. I didn’t want to do a survival job when I first got here. I worked at Equinox just to get the gym membership. But I had my savings set. I think the last week before I started Anything Goes was the last of my savings. It ended up timing out perfectly.
The audition process took a month or so. From the first time I went in to when I got it was like a month. It wasn’t auditions every day, but it was like, “We’ll call you in a couple weeks.” There would be an invited dance call, and then the call back, so the process took about a month. I was just auditioning for everything, being super eager and being there two hours early. Now I know better [laughs].
A lot of people would say that two months is a short amount of time, but it probably seemed long to you.
The biggest thing, and I am still kind of dealing with this, is you know exactly what will happen in your life when you’re in school. After high school, it’s college. Leaving college was the first time that there was so much unknown in your life. Not even just moving to the city, but just no longer being in college. Having adulthood in your face for the first time including unemployment and including a big new city. It was a huge transition. It was really scary. My husband was still in school. We weren’t husband and wife then, but he was in school. He was actually studying abroad in France that year, so it was a lonely city. Very lonely. But I am still here.
What kept you going?
I think going home on the weekends was really helpful for me. I was having okay feedback for some of the auditions, so that was really nice to have. And it was only two months. And I knew that I had Anything Goes. That didn’t start until January, so I had four months of not doing anything, but at least I knew something was coming.
At the same time, I booked Anything Goes and the next day I went to an open call for A Chorus Line that was getting done somewhere, and got cut immediately. It was like that humble pie of you can book a show and then for something else you are completely not right. That was also a good lesson when I first moved here.
What happened after Anything Goes?
I did Anything Goes for a year. And then Kathleen Marshall, who did Anything Goes, was also doing Nice Work If You Can Get It. So we all went in and auditioned. I just ended up being a really good fit for the show as well. I jumped ship--literally--and went to Nice Work. I think I had three weeks between two shows, and I got my wisdom teeth pulled out in that three weeks when I went home. For Nice Work, we did a Vanity Fair photo shoot with Annie Liebowitz, which was the coolest thing ever. But I was like a chipmunk. I still wasn’t eating when I had to come back up to New York and do that photoshoot with her. I felt like I was going to faint, but it was the coolest experience ever. Afterwards, I went home and had a gallon of ice cream because that was all I could eat.
Nice Work If You Can Get It was a year and a half. What was so cool about your first time in a Broadway show is that you don’t know anything that’s happening. Especially getting to be a part of something original--I got to do the cast recording and the Tony’s. It was just a dream come true every single moment. Nice Work was the same process, because they both started in January; it was the beginning of shows, original cast, etc. But I knew what was coming for Nice Work. Second time I almost got to enjoy it more. Even though the first time was so exciting, the second time I got to really experience it and be like, “I really know what this is.” Now I can sit in it and enjoy it.
I had done a couple readings for Bullets Over Broadway, which is a Woody Allen, Susan Stroman show that was going to come to Broadway. Even though I was a part of the readings, that July they had an extensive audition process for that show--for the workshop and the show. We all went in and auditioned, and it was as if we hadn’t done the reading. Everybody was on equal footing. She didn’t do favors for anybody, but I ended up getting that, so that was awesome. Then I had from July until about October, when we did the workshop, to know that I had something and have time to rest. I got to do the Kennedy Center Honors, which was the coolest thing, because it’s something I watched growing up. That was so surreal. You learn it so fast, and you just do it in front of Mikhail Baryshnikov, President Obama, and all these people, these insane icons.
And then we did Bullets. We did the workshop and did the production of it. We opened in April and closed in August of that year, so it was a kind of a short run. When Bullets closed, for the first time, I was like, “I don’t know what I am going to do.” And then two days later, I got a call for Cinderella. One of my friends was going on tour with White Christmas, and they needed a replacement. The audition was trying on the costumes. I had already gone in for it and was in files for it. They were looking for someone who just fit the costumes who could fit right in. So that was my audition. I just went in--more nervous than anything else, because I was like, “I can do this, but it’s going to depend on our sizes.” Two weeks or three weeks after Bullets closed, I started rehearsals for Cinderella. I just closed with them in January. So that was September to January. That was just the most magical experience ever. It was the first one where I got to do a ballet show. Everything else was stylized 20’s and 30’s, and Cinderella was getting to waltz to “Ten Minutes Ago”. That was the coolest thing.
That’s just like the Cinderella story. Instead of the glass slipper, it’s the dress. What are you up to now?
Now I am a little bit on a break. It’s kind of exciting to not know and be okay with it. It’s been four years of that same schedule. My husband has had an opposite schedule, so it’s been really nice. Even though it’s unknown, being able to spend time with him and not having to be selfish--“Oh, I have a show tonight, I can’t do this, I can’t do that. I can’t eat this, I have to sleep until here.” To just live a little bit. Not that it’s not living, but to live differently has been nice for a minute.
I got to train to teach FlyBarre. I just finished that. I did my first class on Monday. It was terrifying, but it was good. I am enjoying it. The things I love about dance, I love about FlyBarre. It’s the same discipline, same challenge. You just feel so good afterwards. The other things about doing long running shows is that it’s repetitive, and it’s the same thing on your body over and over. I have accumulated injuries from each one. So it’s been really good to crosstrain for sure.
What does your husband do?
He’s in finance. Accounting and finance. He was working for an accounting firm, and he would get off work after I was done with shows. He was there for a couple years and was coming home at 1 am and midnight on a regular basis. We were both late nights, but he had to be there at nine or ten. I got to sleep until noon. He just changed jobs in February, so now it’s a 9-6 job. He’s super happy. The accounting firm was a good foundation place for him, but he’s excited to be at this new company. We get to see each other on the weekends and nights. It’s good. In September, it’ll be three years. I got married in the middle of Nice Work If You Can Get It. I had like a week off to go do it, so we haven’t taken our honeymoon yet. We’re excited to do that at some point.
It really has been a crazy run for you ever since you got here.
Yes. I’ve been extremely lucky for sure. I mean, Anything Goes being the right show at the right time. Not having done tap before, but then having had tap at OCU. Coming to New York City. The look was right for the time period--I’ve done 20’s and 30’s shows for the most part. I also had met a couple incredible mentors at Music Theatre of Wichita my last summer who vouched for me when I started auditioning. I am forever and ever grateful to them. I think everything really just aligned perfectly. It’s been a crazy adventure.
Do you have any advice for dancers?
For dancers, the singing is so important. If you can have a wider variety of skill sets, you’re just right for more jobs.
I also knew this in college, but now what I am learning even more is the importance of learning your type, learning what you’re right for. I would love to play the petite, cute, best friend ingénue, but I am tall and do more sexy things, more mature things. Just knowing what you’re right for.
It costs a lot of money, but constantly taking care of your body is important. I wasn’t really as good about that while I was in shows because I was so tired. If I were to do anything again, that’s probably what I would’ve done. The biggest thing I learned was once college is over, as soon as you take off from dance or singing, you do go backwards a little bit. It’s something you have to keep up. That was a big realization. And you’re continuously getting older. Not that I am old, but I am feeling old. Everyone says it, but you don’t have the same body as when you were in college, so warming up is really important. I am really, really good and persistent about doing acupuncture, doing physical therapy, or doing massage--just taking care of your body because it is your instrument.
I think another thing that is hard is: In school, you have people supporting you. You have people who are like, “You can do it!” Back home, you had your parents and a community to support you. Here, you don’t get feedback from your auditions, usually. It’s really discouraging. As those years accumulated, I noticed that it wore on me a little bit. Even when you are doing well, the stakes get higher because it’s your profession. Finding places, people, communities, or quiet time to boost yourself up and support yourself is important because the city is tearing you down more than building you up.
I took a course that helped me with marketing in the business. I will say that a lot of things that I’ve gotten--I’ve done one or two TV things--but for that kind of stuff, doing a little bit every day, rather than a lot sporadically to market yourself is important. Doing a half-hour day to send a postcard to a casting director, send an email, send a thank you letter to somebody that you took a class for, or taking one class a month--if you plant those seeds a little bit each week, I think you’ll find more returns.
Just get to know as many choreographers as you can because they kind of go in waves of who has a Broadway show and who does a tour, so knowing who the choreographers are and just getting seen by them over and over is important. You find the ones that mesh with you. There are certain people that love my style, and sometimes it’s not their taste. Just get out there. Go to auditions even if it’s not something you’re right for. That’s hard, especially when you know you’re not right. But just getting seen by that choreographer is important. They say that in college, but I’ve seen it. I now see that they do remember you. It might be five projects from now, but they do remember you, and it’s a super small community, so your reputation is important, and it gets around.
Let’s actually take it back to knowing your type. I could see how that could be hard for people. How did you learn your type?
I feel like I am still trying to figure it out completely. I think on-camera classes helped a lot. You get to see yourself more objectively. You get to see yourself doing different character types, so I am like, “Oh yeah, I can see why they wouldn’t cast me as certain character types.” In music theatre, that’s a little bit harder.
Does having an agent help you with that?
They can help. They can definitely be an objective eye for sure. But another thing from college was that you give the agents 10%, and they do 10% of your job. The agents can only do so much. It really is your job. They also do give feedback. Use them as a resource and stay communicating with them. They have a lot of people they’re dealing with and a lot of things to think about. It’s a lot of you.
Where do you see yourself going or want to go from here?
I don’t know. All of that planning and all of the images of what I wanted left me as soon as I got to the city. Even after Anything Goes, I was like, “Yeah, I want to do more Broadway shows.” But since getting here, I no longer have that vivid image of what I want. So it’s been really hard to maneuver what to do. Everything I did had a purpose and was going towards that goal, but not having that, I am having to sit and chill a little bit and enjoy life a little bit more. I’ve always enjoyed the journey, but now I am just enjoying the moment for the first time. I don’t know. I’ll get back to you.
I am excited to see where things will lead you to. Is there anything you want to share with the world?
The person you fall in love with will change your path. You marry an actor, and you’re in that world. You’re both in that world, and you can actually see each other. If you marry someone outside the business, you will have a different schedule, and you will have to decide, “Is it worth it?” So don’t be careful of who you fall in love with, but just realize that it really sets your course a little bit, because you have to decide what’s important and what you’re sacrificing. I feel like I can do whatever I want to do in life, but everything comes with a sacrifice. It’s more of deciding what sacrifices I am willing to make. That was a cool realization for me.