When it's Nardia Boodoo's turn to play her music in her dressing room at The Washington Ballet, it's an event. "Everyone is like, 'That's such a cool song,' and wants me to send it to them," she says. "I feel like I have the better taste in my dressing room."
That's partially because she mostly stays away from trendy pop hits, opting instead for international music influenced by her Trinidadian heritage. "I could not even tell you the songs that are on the Top 40 list," she says. "If everyone else likes it, I want something different."
Boodoo made us a playlist—mostly "groovy international music"—and told us about how she finds her sought-after songs:
How she finds new music:
"I Shazam wherever I am. Even at the grocery store, I'm like, that's a really lovely piece of music.
"I have a lot of friends from a lot of different countries. I travel a lot and my favorite thing to do is find the cool music. I'll be like, what is this, it's a bop."
On learning choreography to complex music:
"It's kinda weird to watch me do this. People will see me with my AirPods in, staring at the ground, moving my hands, trying to figure out what step goes where. It's a very complicated learning process but I like to stay on top of it by closing my eyes and visualizing it and marking my arms.
"The prettiest piece of music has to be the score from Serenade. I could not hear Nutcracker outside of the theater, I wouldn't be able to concentrate."
On her music-filled pre-show routine:
"In between two-show days, you can find me in the warm-up room doing my Pilates mat class with my AirPods, trying to break a sweat and get my muscles warm.
"When I'm doing the floor stuff and finding my alignment, I don't need a lot of fuss. I'll listen to this one song called 'Outside' by Pender. It's very calming and relaxing but also fun.
"When I'm doing my Theraband stuff, I'll move on to something fun and upbeat that gets me in a groove.
"When I'm giving myself actual barre, I like Cardi B's 'I Like It.' I let it go from there and I cater my combinations to whatever the song is.
"After I've done warm-up and I'm applying makeup and doing my hair, music helps me concentrate and get into character."
Her go-to song:
"MGMT's 'Electric Feel.' That's if I'm having a subdued moment."
Her pop faves:
"When it's a major performance season I feel like I need extra inspiration. I like Lizzo because she's so powerful and her messages are really strong and fun. I love Rihanna, but she unfortunately has not come out with a new album so I'm stuck with her old stuff."