How did you first learn to dance?
My mother was a dancer, and then she opened a dance studio. Both my sister and I were kind of babysat there. My sister went on to play soccer, but I stuck with it. Soccer was definitely not my specialty – my mom said I used to dance down the field!
Did you love ballet from the beginning?
Growing up, I was a very strong jazz dancer. We also did ballet, but it was a challenge. But I’ve never liked putting myself in situations where I could already do something, or was the best at it – there’s no fun in that. That’s how I’ve continued in my career – always surround yourself with people that are better. I’m constantly yearning to learn more.
You received a severe injury in 2019 – that must have been a very difficult time?
I suffered a really bad herniated disc in my neck. It was a very traumatic injury – I woke up one morning and couldn’t move my head without so much pain. To hear: “you’re probably never going to dance again”, or “we don’t know if this is going to heal” – that was really hard. I feel my best when I am dancing, so it felt like a huge part of my being was missing. I was invited to make Thousandth Orange for the Vail Dance Festival. I said, normally I do the movements on myself. How am I going to do that when I can’t move? It was a much different process than anything I’d done before because I had to focus on the dancers’ bodies instead of using my own. I love what came out of it.
You made The Barre Project with the choreographer William Forsythe during lockdown – how did that come about?
William Forsythe and I had tried to work together a few times but our schedules never worked. During the lockdown, I hit a point where I was missing being creative. It felt like a lot of time was being lost. So I texted Bill and said, I know it’s not ideal, but would you want to make something? And he wrote back right away and said, ‘Well, when would you want to start? Tomorrow?’ We never met in person, but spent every day together on Zoom – it was one of the best times of my life.
Why does dance matter to you?
Dance matters to me because I truly believe that it’s healing. Since my injury, I know that it is healing to me. It’s always been the way I express myself and get my emotions out. But I also believe that it’s healing for those that are watching because it has the ability to transport them to a different place for that moment in time.
Why Dance Matters
Why Dance Matters is the RAD’s podcast – a series of conversations with extraordinary people from the world of dance and beyond hosted by David Jays, editor of Dance Gazette. The fifth season of Why Dance Matters also includes conversations with choreographers Dame Arlene Phillips and Francesca Harper, RAD teacher and examiner Ana Maria Campos and Tim Arthur, the RAD’s Chief Executive. Please do listen and subscribe.