BWW Interviews: Erin Spencer, This Dancer's Life


To see Erin Spencer dance is to fall a little bit in love with her. Talented and determined, ambitious and creative...she's kind of a force of nature. One of the growing number of dancers in the Nashville area who focus on theatrical performances - she has a heady resume of performance with several theater companies here - she's gaining a much-deserved reputation as an exceptional performer with an amazing work ethic.

In the past couple of weeks, she's been in New York City making the audition circuit, visiting friends and soaking up the atmosphere...and while all that is well and good. There's a whole bunch of people in Nashville hoping she'll remain here, continuing to entertain audiences with her amazing form and estimable talents.

Luckily, before she packed her bags for the trip northward, she sat down and answered our questions, affording us the rare opportunity to get a glimpse inside "This Dancer's Life." Read and enjoy...and get to know the lovely, talented and oh-so-charming Erin Spencer. But be forewarned: You're gonna fall a little bit in love.

What was your first introduction to dance as an art form? When I was nine-years-old and I saw Crazy For You on Broadway on a dance trip to NYC - the girl who did a solo pointe dance in the middle of the show is the first time I remember thinking I want to do this - I want to dance!

What was your first real job as a dancer? Honestly, I'm still waiting for it. I'm still auditioning, networking, doing everything to get that first real job...but the more I've worked at the Larry Keeton Theatre, with Kate [Adams-Johnson], the more I've felt like that has been the biggest "job" as a dancer that I've had - I've been challenged, and learned more about dancing in the last few shows with them, than I have in a lot of years of dance with many people in the country. Kate has given me chances to shine and show what I can do, and slowly but surely, I've been having people come up to remembering dances I've done in the past, which is just a huge honor to me. If they just added the paycheck in, it would be perfect!

When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in dance? For as long as I can remember I've wanted to dance - my one fault is that I love doing too many other things as well, but dance was always my number one, and my one constant love and passion that never left me.



Who is your dancing idol?

This is going to sound crazy, but her name is Kirstin Tucker. I grew up with her, we danced together at Ann Carroll School of Dance, then she went on to Franklin Performing Arts (Kate actually taught her there) She is now on her second national tour in West Side Story (her first one was A Chorus Line). We ended up at auditions together for colleges for dance departments, but she ended up at Point Park University. I've just watched her grow into this astounding young woman who is just amazing. Her dancing is truly phenomenal and I still remember us being little girls and being envious of her natural flexibility. She has a stage presence, and a sense of discipline in her work ethics that is beyond anyone that I've ever known. She has always believed in me, encouraged me, told me what a beautiful dancer I am, and has never wanted me to give up. I want to be just like her - to have that same discipline, confidence and drive that she has. She deserves everything she's achieved already, and I give her a matter of time before she's lighting up the Milky Way as a star.



Why do you pursue your art in Nashville? What are the best parts of working here? Well, I have found a group of people who have been nothing but good to me - who believe in me, and always love to watch me dance im my shows. Slowly, Nashville has been bringing in more and more talent, and opening up more and more theater companies, with more opportunities for a dancer to strive. It's not NYC, of course, but I see it becoming a mini-version of it in just a few years. Kate Adams-Johnson has been a strong force in my journey lately, I've been learning from her just the ways of show biz, little tips and advice on how to get ahead, but also- her encouragement, as well as many others, has been something I needed to hear to become more confident in my dance, and my chances of making it out there. As a hearing impaired dancer, I almost gave up, thinking no one would look at me or even give me a chance simply because I was hearing impaired. Kate and the others at Larry Keeton, and Circle Players, and Pull-Tight Players - have all led me to believe otherwise; that maybe there is a chance. That, perhaps, just maybe, the fact that I am hearing impaired, makes me more unique and more interesting than your average dancer - it makes you want to watch me, at least that's what I hope and strive for!

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Jeffrey Ellis Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 25 years. He is the recipient of the Tennessee Theatre Association's Distinguished Service Award for his coverage of theatre in the Volunteer State and was the founding editor/publisher of Stages, the Tennessee Onstage Monthly. He is a past fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and is the founder/executive producer of The First Night Honors, held during Labor Day Weekend, which honor oustanding theater artists in Tennessee in recognition of their lifetime achievements and includes The First Night Star Awards and the Most Promising Actors. Midwinter's First Night, held the first Sunday in January after New Year's Day, honors outstanding productions and performances throughout the state. Further, Ellis directed the Nashville premiere of La Cage Aux Folles, The Last Night of Ballyhoo and An American Daughter, as well as award-winning productions of Damn Yankees, Company, Gypsy and The Rocky Horror Show, with Ellis honored by The Tennessean as best director of a musical for both Company and Rocky Horror.

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