‘I was a shy kid. I didn’t have a stellar self-esteem or body image, but when I was on stage dancing, I felt strong and confident.’
“I was a shy kid. I didn’t have a stellar self-esteem or body image, but when I was onstage dancing, I felt strong and confident. I was raised in Salt Lake City, where my parents put me in dance school at 6. When my buddy was starting gymnastics, I told my parents I wanted to start gymnastics, too. They couldn’t afford both, so I chose gymnastics. I came back to dance in high school and loved it. My dance teacher taught us many genres and brought in guest artists, exposing us to greatness. She told me I should audition for a University of Utah scholarship, so I chose my own music and choreographed and prepared my own solo. Going through that audition made me realize, ‘This is what I’m going to do.’ I got my BFA in modern dance. When I graduated, I visited my aunt in Alaska. I showed up at the Alaska Dance Theatre one day, and they asked me to audition for the company and teach for a semester. I ended up living there for five years.
My experiences have taught me to be more confident in myself. I’ve grown professionally and developed a skill set I never imagined.
“Being a big fish in a little pond gave me confidence for when I was ready to move to Manhattan. I came to New York with a map and guidebook to go to studios and classes. I eventually got teaching gigs. My goal was to become part of a modern dance company. I had an epiphany: In all of this there is a place where I fit. I met Amanda Selwyn when she was looking for a choreographer’s collective; later, we became a nonprofit company. Now it’s the Amanda Selwyn Dance Theatre! It’s an exciting achievement to be a founding member of a dance company. I was teaching as a visiting artist all over, so I went back to school to get my MA in phys ed and my teacher certification.
“I taught on Coney Island for 10 years before getting a call from Long Island High School for the Arts, where I now teach dance and phys ed classes. Arts education is so important because as artists we train, and we have a vocabulary and history. The arts teach life skills, creativity, collaboration, problem-solving, overcoming failure, strategizing, grit and work ethic. I love the pride and glow you see in students when they are dancing. My experiences have taught me to be more confident in myself. I’ve grown professionally and developed a skill set I never imagined.”