I have always felt a need to communicate and, even more importantly, to be understood. But as a child, I always hit an emotional wall when trying to speak.
Although my great-aunt Rose had no connection to dance, she intuitively saw that I needed an outlet, and recommended that I take a movement class. It was literally life-changing. I realized I could make myself understood without my needing to be verbal.
Hyper-vigilance kept me curious and always looking for the best way to answer questions like the ones that dance presents. How do you do a movement and what makes it communicate? How do you make dancing less complicated? What is technique and what is its purpose?
These personal pursuits increased when I was studying dance at The Juilliard School and was given the opportunity to teach my peers. I was immediately aware of how my need to answer those questions made a significant impact on those I was teaching.
I wanted to figure out the puzzle for them as well as myself. This produced a remarkable giving and receiving of information. That was when my love for teaching was born. The satisfaction of seeing that "wow" moment in someone's eyes when the impossible becomes the possible is so rewarding.
I've had the fortune to have exceptional teachers, and, even with that, I've found that teaching itself is one of the greatest teachers: If you can figure out how to teach it, you probably can figure out how to do it.
My challenge has always been to try to embody the standards I set for those I teach. Presently, while performing in Sleep No More, I am deeply invested in what it is to communicate such a complex story. The physical demands, and the intensity of the audience in this immersive theater, create a vibrant stage.
That always-moving energy poses questions, such as how to stay true to the work when you are spontaneously having new and unexpected interactions. When someone who has studied with me sees a performance and says, "I saw what you taught me," I implode with joy.
My career as a performer and teacher includes mentoring and coaching dancers and choreographers, who are either creating and performing in the field, or preparing to. I am continually challenged to find the questions that offer more clarity to each of them. Being able to help illuminate what someone wants to say and how they say it is such a gift.