Q: What has been your professional dance journey, and how did you come to dance with the CATS National Tour?
I started dancing at the age of 3, I followed in my older sister’s footsteps. I was more interested in dance and my sister more acting. I was instructed at a competition dance studio from 8-18, and at 18, I started auditioning for schools. I auditioned for 5 schools and got into Juilliard for dance. I went there for 4 years and after I graduated, I started auditioning for Broadway musicals and tours. I booked the second national tour of “Finding Neverland,” which was a non-equity tour. I toured for nine months as Peter Pan. After that I came back to NYC and auditioned for Cats, I booked the first national tour. It’s an equity tour. I play the role of Tantomile, which is one of the twin cats. I actually auditioned for the show 6 times and that's where I am now.
Q: What have been some challenges in your pre-professional or professional dance career?
When we were younger, we had the competitiveness of competition dance, which is completely different from the real world of dance. A lot of times in competition dance, it was a battle between not worrying about your placement (medals, trophies, etc) as opposed to building your network of friends who would help you in the future for auditioning. Competition dance was about building relationships, not getting the highest medal, which I didn't realize when I was younger. Then it was the competition of getting into the best dance school. A lot of my peers wanted to be in ballet companies. I didn't know what my path would be; I just knew I wanted to do Broadway when I was 8. At Juilliard, the pressures I felt were that we weren't allowed to audition until we were seniors. We could not go to Broadway calls, and it was hard for me to wait. As soon as you enter the world of auditioning in NYC, it is a madhouse, especially for a non-equity performer putting your name on the non-equity list, getting ready for the audition to go to the studio and having them say we are not seeing non-equity performers, waking up at 5 am., doing it all again. And on top of that, staying on top of your part time jobs to stay on top of your rent. I would say as soon as I booked “Cats,” that battle was over because I would get my equity card, but the hard part was building your resume to get the equity card so you don't have to worry about those troubles anymore.
Q: What inspires you and drives you forward as an artist?
I like to consider dance to be my therapy. Whenever I perform, it releases any problems that I have. I think just showing up everyday and seeing how you can improve day by day, especially doing the same show everyday (can be inspirational). It is easy for it to get redundant and stale and if you can find one thing you can improve everyday, that drives me forward because it’s like how well can I perform by the end of the week or month. It doesn’t have to be technical things, it can be how you feel when you perform or positive self talk. My dance teacher back home always told us to love ourselves unconditionally and that has helped me as a performer because a lot of the times people can easily grow out of loving performing because of the negative self talk and go in a downward spiral. My dance teacher, she definitely guided us in our dance studio to drive ourselves with love. The competition with myself rather than comparing myself to other people is what drives me. I just want to see my best potential.
Q: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you as a performing artist?
We were in Ottawa, Canada when we found out our tour may be postponed or cancelled. It started around March when it became a big topic for the tour and a lot of people started getting really nervous about it. They thought it would shut things down in NYC, but not our tour — then we found out we were going to be laid off and then postponed for a week, which turned into a month and then 2 months. The tour is actually being extended rather than closed. It is exciting because hopefully we will resume June 1st and go through the summer until mid August for the cities we canceled and postponed. We aren’t getting paid right now just for the previous weeks, but we have to file for unemployment right now. A lot of us had side gigs on the tour — we were doing classes over Zoom and that is what we have been doing. We are stuck at home, taking some class. The whole routine was thrown off, my anxiety was extremely high at first. Dance is my life and career, my heart and soul, and having that taken away was really hard. I also understudy two tracks in the show and my dream role is Victoria, the white cat, and I understudy that and I want to be able to perform that before the tour ends. Cats was my dream tour and I finally got it and it has been postponed. My entire class at Juilliard is not working, all 24 of us.
We haven't had a company class since cancelation but some of us came on to Zoom to do some choreography. My friend recorded it and edited together a little video that a lot of us have posted on Instagram to show that we are still deeply involved in the show, even if we aren't performing right now. It's under 2 minutes of excerpts from the show. We don't have Zoom meetings, but hopefully when we get ready to tour again I'm sure we will have Zoom videos to brush up on singing and stuff. We have reference videos to watch to remind ourselves of tracks and spacings and things like that to rehearse.
Q: How do you think we can continue to create and share art during this time?
I think we just need to tap into our creative side and think outside of the box. Social media is huge, thankfully, and we can share anything to millions of people. We can teach dance and offer our knowledge for free. I think a lot of the times before this pandemic happened, we would not share our art for free, and now we are coming together in such a compassionate and confusing time and using social media as a platform is so important. Just being as creative as possible in the space we have.
Q: Do you think the pandemic will make us a more socially conscious society? If so, how?
I think we will be. I think we will be more appreciative as a society as a whole. We will definitely focus on family time — it depends on your situation, but if you're quarantining away from your family it opens your eyes to how socially conscious you will be about spending time with family. Also taking events and performances for granted — I think that we will be more appreciative of everything we do outside of our homes. Even just being in a class, not taking it for granted — like sometimes you say I don't want to take class today, but now I think everyone will change in the sense that they will show up with a new sense of resiliency and determination in order to be our best selves.
Q: Using the idea of “worldmaking” how do you imagine the performing arts world after the pandemic? (Worldmaking: How you can re-imagine the world in your own terms, the way you want it to be. Using this tool one can construct new worlds and write themselves into narratives that have excluded them and systems that have disabled them.)
I imagine it to explode with new work and creativity we have never heard of before. All this time in quarantine as an artist has brought me into a different head space personally, and a lot of the time when you get time alone to focus on yourself you will pull things you never thought you could do in your mind. I think there will be new shows and choreographers. So much talent is being refined right now. People are exploring new ideas by themselves they never had the courage to do before. I think more people will appreciate the arts more. I think the general public will appreciate the arts more. I have an app called BroadwayHD where I watch more Broadway shows and things where I never would have had the time to do before.