One of the best parts about being on tour, aside from seeing parts of the country and the world that I might've never seen otherwise, has absolutely been being able to reach out to the communities around me.
For me, teaching has always been a huge outlet from performing. especially during college. My job at the local ballet conservatory teaching ages 3-13 became the best reminder of why I love what I do: seeing their eagerness to learn and excitement over reaching a new goal in class made me want to incorporate that same hunger in reaching my own goals.
After graduating, I worried about being able to keep that reminder.
I've been extremely blessed to run into a few opportunities to use Flashdance the Musical as a platform to teach again! I was able to share in teaching a class and leading a talk-back with a fellow performer from my hometown of Jacksonville, FL while we were both home for the holidays and the response was incredible! Many of the students we got to help are currently studying at our high school alma mater, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, and are currently auditioning for college Music Theatre programs. We were able to answer a lot of their questions regarding the college application and audition process among other topics that come up with being young artists. Some of them have kept in contact and I am proud to say are being accepted into some of the top BFA/BM Music Theatre programs in the country!
I was also able to teach alongside the dance captain of the Flashdance National Tour, Emily Hin, at Wichita State University not too long ago. It was so special to hear them talk about their goals after college and express their excitement to see the two of us take time out on a morning off to dance with them... but it was truly our pleasure.
"If I could speak all languages.. understand all mysteries... give all that I have to others.. but do not do it with love, I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13
Everyone has a mentor or teacher that has made a special impact in their personal or career growth. One of mine was recently honored in a brilliantly written article by a fellow alumni of my alma mater, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts (Jax, FL) that I've shared below.
In high school, "Doc" fussed me into every audition for the school's musicals in the theater department when I wasn't even her student and I could never figure out why. She pushed this dance major into a BFA Music Theatre audition for one of the best programs in the country, and I still couldn't figure out why. I now hold that degree and have a budding performance career in front of me, because she had faith that I could go out there and "tell the story".
Not only did Bradley Akers right such an accurate and inspiring article on Doc, but he is following in her footsteps as the associate director of Players By the Sea theater in Jacksonville, FL.
I took a trip to Players by the Sea to see Bradley recreate one of my fondest pieces of theatre done with he and Dr. Beger in high school, Aida! He and the cast retold this story in an extraordinary way. Here are a few of the DASOTA Alumni and myself after the show, and a few production photos of Bradley's cast.
In just one week from today, I will graduate from Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL and fly directly to New York City after the ceremony to prepare for a showcase in Times Square with my graduating class. The cliche of college being the best years of my life isn't even necessary here; especially since I see the function of my 4 years of studies as preparing me to begin the best years of my life. I am beyond proud to be a second generation Seminole as my mother will be watching me walk across the same stage that she was also handed her degree on as a Computer Science graduate of FSU. I can only hope to continue the legacy she started to continue the Seminole spirit of education, drive, and remaining UNCONQUERED as I launch into my professional performance career, full- time! Go Noles!
For three years, I have devoted a week to a village in Guatemala that has truly become a second home. The people, families, and even pets there are constantly on my heart, and thus, a part of my art. Helping build houses for the families in Chontala was only the beginning of a lifelong relationship greater than I could have ever imagined between this community and I.
This little girl's name is Norma. Her family of eight was the first house that I helped with in the village. We started the foundation of their home, and each child in that family had my heart before the concrete could even dry!
Her mother, Mikaila has welcomed me with open arms into their now finished home year after year, and never misses a chance to remind me that we are family. This family deserves the world, but has so little, and even still continuously offers me so much. They love so selflessly, I find it hard to believe that I'm giving them anymore than they give me. These hugs could last a lifetime!