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BWW Blog: Thoughts from 'A Dancer First'

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I personally strive to make myself the most versatile artist possible.

BWW Blog: Thoughts from 'A Dancer First'

I wait for the day when people stop asking if someone is an [actor/singer/dancer] first. This question permeates college audition waiting rooms as auditionees eagerly attempt to strike conversation with each other. While it's a fun conversation starter, it strikes at the fallacy that one aspect of musical theatre is higher than the other and honestly, it's quite frustrating. At the end of our four years of training at a college, one would hope that students leave with a skill set where they are proficient in all three aspects. Of course people might find more joy in one aspect of musical theatre, and that's great! I personally strive to make myself the most versatile artist possible, where I can ace a dance call and then walk into the next room ready where I leave my LaDucas behind and prove myself as a strong singer/actor.

In my hometown, there was a belief that if you had dance training, those auditionees would be destined for the ensemble. While I am grateful for my dance captain and choreography opportunities, it frustrated me that before I would walk into an audition room, directors at home only saw me for being able to nail a triple turn. The opportunity to read a side was not even a consideration.

The ensemble, especially if it's a strong ensemble that is used well, can have some of the most striking moments of the show, that utilize every ounce of training musical theatre artists can muster. I watched in awe when I saw Kiss Me Kate's ensemble perform "Too Darn Hot" at the Tony Awards, or gush at the Bandstand's ensemble as I sat and watched those sultry scene transitions that presented an entire story in just thirty seconds of movement.

The connotation that comes with being "a dancer first" only inhibits the opportunities available and shoe horns artists into a "Yes, but..." path, rather than a "Yes, and..." path. Whenever I have had the opportunity to talk with stunning ensemble members in Broadway productions, they have continually informed me to drop that vernacular from my vocabulary. I have, thankfully, dropped that mentality and it has opened my eyes to a worldview that puts me on a "Yes, and..." path that I strive to continue to ride.

At the end of the day, being a phenomenal storyteller should be at the forefront of all our minds as we continue our training. Why box ourselves when we're still trying to discover what kind of artist we want to be? I might as well be a cheerleader for myself. Why should I be my own obstacle when I have a mountain of other obstacles ahead of me? Why limit myself? I might as well take one of those obstacles out of my way and that starts with eliminating the question: "Are you a [x] first?".



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