How did you start dancing?
I started dancing when I was about 4. I went to Kinderdance, a preschool based around movement. My parents had no intention to set me up to be a dancer, but it just stuck. I was at a dance school, and I just continued from there. I’ve loved it ever since I was little.
Where are you from?
Goshen, NY in Orange County. It’s about an hour northwest of the city—really close to the city. I grew up coming into the city all the time. New York always has been in my childhood and in my life.
What happened from there?
The dance school that I went to was primarily a ballet school. I grew up being a little ballerina. Once I became 12 or 13, I started going to more intensives and summer programs like NYSSSA through New York State. I did that a few summers up in Saratoga. My teachers were company members of New York City Ballet. We danced all day and watched them perform at night, an experience I’ll never forget. I was still really serious about dance in high school, but I knew that since I wasn’t already on track to be in a professional ballet company, it probably wasn’t going to happen.
I started seeing Broadway shows and thinking that theatre was what I wanted to do. I started applying for colleges because I didn’t want to go to a conservatory. I wanted to go to a school that had both training and academics. It was tricky. I think every dancer goes through that decision, whether or not to go to school, especially when you live so close to the city and the goal of becoming a professional performer is so attainable. I ended up going to Montclair State in New Jersey. It was primarily a modern program, which I was not used to doing. It ended up being probably the best thing I ever did because it challenged me to move my body in a way I wasn’t used to as a little ballerina.
Being so close to the city, I would come in and dabble in auditions and start to get used to that environment. I started taking voice lessons and danced for a modern company in college. I knew that I didn’t want to spend months and months in the rehearsal studio for a weekend season two to three times a year. Although it would’ve been a rewarding experience, I wanted to perform more. I knew that musical theatre was my goal at that point. When I graduated, I worked at a regional theatre in Pennsylvania, and that was my first professional musical theatre job. From there, it just kind of happened. I worked for a couple of years as non-equity, then became equity, and got an agent.
When did you move to the city?
I moved to the city right after my first job. It was exciting. As a young dancer, New York City is where you want to be with all the hustle and bustle, dance classes, and auditions. I always grew up coming into the city, so I was comfortable here. Everyone’s first apartment in the city is like a shoebox and something you can’t afford, but it was great. You do what you need to do. I remember waiting tables and meeting friends that way. You make it work.
What are you up to now?
I’ve taken a brief hiatus. My husband and I decided to start a family last year. We just had our baby boy last September. He’s 6 months old. This past month, I’ve started jumping back into auditions and letting people know that I am available—doing pre-production, being in the rehearsal room, and feeling my body move again. Even though I never stopped moving, it’s been a transition to feel reassured that you can still move in that way. Your body remembers more than you think it does.
Having a baby is a lot on your body. I actually have several dancer friends who have asked me about having a baby, because until it happens, you really don’t know. It’s just this unknown thing, and everyone’s experience is so different. I was lucky to have a pretty easy pregnancy, but even then it’s an unbelievable stress on your body involving extra weight, hormones, emotions. All of this new change is amazing, but at the same time scary.
As dancers, we are so in tune with our bodies. For me, going through pregnancy and feeling my body afterwards allowed me to have a new appreciation for what the body can do as a whole. I learned how strong I was as a person, and I am amazed at the fact that I am still the dancer that I was. What’s changed is that I am even more aware of my body and that I appreciate and love my body more. And then I look at my son, and I am like, ”Forget about it.” He’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. I am so glad that we chose to start a family when we did.
How was making the decision to start a family?
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves as dancers and artists especially in New York. In all of us, there’s this drive to succeed, but a lot of times we put too much pressure on ourselves. On social media, we’re constantly looking at feeds of people’s accomplishments and people’s most beautiful phases of their life. It’s easy to look at that and feel like you’re not good enough. But we all have different timing in terms of the accomplishments we have as dancers. That timing is specific to each person. It’s important to honor that and to know that you’re doing okay.
For me, when we started to decide to have a family, I came to a place in my dance life where I felt content with what I had done. I had consistently been dancing professionally. I had done my big Broadway national tour and danced at Carnegie hall and at the Kennedy Center. If I wanted to look back on paper and see my accomplishments, I could look at them and be satisfied, even though there are still things that I’d love to achieve. I’d still love to do a Broadway show. I don’t think you ever lose that drive, but I was content with what I had done so far, although I wasn’t sure about how my body would feel after having a baby.
Being content with where I was, I knew that we were ready and that I had these life goals I wanted more than my career goals. That’s how I knew I was ready. I am so glad that I didn’t wait any longer. There are so many things in the dance world that we don’t have control over. Sometimes we need to look at life goals and dreams and know that they need to come first, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that you’re giving up or no longer pursuing those other dreams and goals. It’s important to stay true to yourself and not let your career goals prohibit your other life dreams.
What are your aspirations?
My aspirations are to continue dancing and be an amazing mom to my son. I didn’t know how I was going to feel after having a baby, but I was pleasantly surprised. I think it’s important to know that when you’re a true dancer, you’re always a dancer. It doesn’t always matter what you’re doing—it matters that you are dancing. I want to continue auditioning. My selections on what I audition for are much more picky than when I was younger. I obviously want to stay here and not travel.
I enjoy being in the room with choreographers and creating things in pre-production and workshops and things like that. I’m not done with performing, but going through the process of how things are made and the collaboration between dancers and choreographers is something that I absolutely love. I love creating with people and assisting choreographers even if I am not dancing in the piece. I love seeing their vision and helping their vision come alive. That’s where I am at.
I feel like the more successful things that I have done have been very last minute things. That’s important to know as a young dancer. I wish I could go back and tell myself that when I was auditioning every day trying to book anything, sometimes you could be doing nothing one day and the next day you’re doing the best job of your life. You just don’t know. I need to tell myself that now. I am more selective in that I want to do more work that I am going to be artistically fulfilled in. There’s a lot of great work out there, but I know what’s going to make me feel good as a dancer too.
What is it like to take care of your son and handle your professional life as a dancer?
One of the most blessed things I have is an amazing husband. Having a partner that you can work together with and honor each other’s goals other than what’s going on in your family life is really important. I am very fortunate to have that. Staying at home with my son on most days is amazing and challenging at the same time. It’s more work than I could ever imagine, but I wouldn’t change anything for the world. It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. But at the same time, I need to make sure to make my own time to go to work and to go to dance class and dance for myself. It’s hard to find that time especially when he’s so little. But gradually I have found more and more time. Having a family that can help is really great, and I am really fortunate to have that. It goes back to staying true to yourself and not losing yourself. You don’t want to lose yourself in career goals. You also don’t want to lose your passions because your life is completely changed. It’s finding a balance. Having a supportive family allows you to realize that you need to make time for yourself.
What would be your number one advice?
Sometimes we fall into that gear of “What’s next?” It’s important to look at your life, take a breath, and say, “What’s going on right now?” Enjoy the moment. I think having a son has slowed me down and allowed me to appreciate the moments with my family and my parents. Having that support system is so important. When you have children, you want more for them than they could ever want for themselves. Even just with a 6 month old, I want things for him that he doesn’t even know about yet, and I know my parents felt the same way and still feel the same way about me. It’s important to know and thank the people who supported you to get to where you are today. Have appreciation for yourself of where you are today and the people that helped you get there.
Toughest time you’ve gone through as a performer?
After working consistently for about a couple years as non-equity, I was young, fresh, and working for less money. I joined the union, and it’s this amazing thing, but then all of a sudden, I was in a different realm of talent and new casting directors. In this transition period, sometimes people continue to work, but I didn’t work for about a year. I remember thinking if I had made a mistake. That was a hard time for me. As a young performer, I was willing to basically do anything. I would do silly jobs. I think about some of the jobs I had done or the shows I wanted to do, and I would never want to do them now. But when you set dreams and goals, your path is going to be zigzagged all over the place. That’s what makes it fun. I wouldn’t have met all the people that I met before and made those connections. And it ended up making me who I am as a dancer. I think everyone should join the Actor’s Equity union. We should have that support and those protections that the union provides for us. It’s an important step, and sometimes it’s a hard step. It seems like forever ago, but it was hard time for me.
Is there any last thing you want to share with the world?
Be nice and support each other. Collaborate with the people who make you happy and make your body happy. Enjoy and honor those moments when you get to do what you love. We’re the lucky ones that get to dance in life. We get to play dress up. We get to pretend and put on costumes and move freely and feel all of these things with our bodies and make other people feel through our movement. Enjoy those moments.