Photo: Matthew Murphy
Can you tell me about your experience being cast in “King Kong”? What is your role and what has been the most challenging part of this? The most rewarding part?
The cast of “King Kong” is one of the most beautifully talented bunch of artists I feel I have ever been a part of. With everyone having such wide ranging skill sets—whether it be voice, puppeteering, b-boying, ballet, acro, and all contemporary dance forms—what is so lovely is watching us fuse together all of these different vocabularies and find a unique unison as a cast. It takes my breath away!
I am a member of the King’s Company, who along with an idol group called the Voodoos, operates the King Kong puppet, on TOP of dancing in the rest of the show. It’s a lot, to say the least!
It’s so rewarding to dance, tumble and sing my butt off as a solo performer with this lush choreography by the Phenom Drew McOnie and then surrender my voice to join the other 10 members of the King’s Company to create the shape and embody the beastly spirit of Kong. It’s definitely the most selfless and most amazing feeling!
What dance styles did you begin training in and at what age? Do have a favorite style? If so, why?
I started with gymnastics as a national competitive tumbler and began taking jazz and ballet in my last years of college. I feel like I tumbled my way finding gigs until I found my first decent training in Horton, ballet and modern in Houston, TX. But it wasn’t until I moved to NYC to pursue an MFA at NYU, where I found a true hybrid of musical theatre, hip hop, jazz and my true love of GAGA! I trained at Cedar Lake in my first years in NYC and fell in love with the connection to the audience on a sensorial level, something I think that’s starting to make its way into musical theatre, which I find truly exciting. Jazz, my other true love, has a codified and classic shape, which I always love and appreciate. I also love a hybrid…who doesn’t?!
What drew you to create a piece for the Jazz Project and how do you feel it fits into this particular show?
What I love about JCE is its dedication to promoting the true essence of jazz as a classic art form and as a contemporary revolution. Almost a showcase of the spectrum of the possibilities of jazz. This piece was inspired by the genius Siren of a voice that is Shoshana Bean!
What are your thoughts and feelings about jazz dance and how it differs from other dance styles?
Jazz reflects the times, point-blank, period! It metamorphosed over time as have our thought processes, views, shapes and politics. It is our responsibility as performers and dance makers to do just that and infuse the times within our work to stay truly relevant with our audiences.
Have you always been a performer pursuing a dance career? How does this differ from any other job that you have had?
No, I was a mortal before college, with ambitions to become an architect in undergrad. There was something about that medium that was artistic, but didn’t fully encompass all that my soul felt creatively. What I mean is, I was scared of art because of its link to living a poor struggling life—which I think is a misconception—until I took the plunge and dedicated my life to art, where I finally felt free and fully in my own body! With any other job I had I felt idle and out of place, but with dance I’m fully myself. I’m home!
Do you teach dance as well? If so, what is your favorite part of teaching? Favorite style to teach?
I do teach. So far in the city just as a sub or at small studios, but I would love to begin teaching on a regular basis. I studied pedagogy in my college days and enjoy passing on the knowledge and experience that I have accumulated from a less than normal trajectory for a dance maker. I was a person before I was a dancer/choreographer, and I think that gears my movement and thought process within movement.
What inspires you as a choreographer?
The human experience is of the upmost importance to me. Reflecting the times, relating to people on a pedestrian but also abstract way is important. Shapes that I produce will never be exactly replicated on another body, with the same intention and facility, so why force it? I like for my movement to inspire other bodies to move in the same route, but love when ownership and interpretation sneak in and possibly inspire my movement quality further! (But clean, Honey!! Always CLEAN!)
What is your piece for the Jazz Project about? Do you have a specific connection to the story or the music?
“Remember the Day” is an ode to the Man: Sir Fosse. But my way, again steered by the powerhouse, Shoshana Bean. The piece is about women taking back their freedom, confidence, their power! Women have been in the press a lot this year and it’s time, baby. TIME’S UP!