I had the pleasure of getting to see Ciara perform in Pippin a few weeks ago and could not have been more impressed! She is a force onstage! Her refreshing honesty in her FFB interview revealed that success in this industry is more than the obvious hard work; it’s a lifelong exploration of your own vessel. She reminded me how important it is to accept your physical ailments as part of the journey towards success.
Ciara is FIT FOR BROADWAY!
BIOGRAPHY: Hi friends! Ciara Renée here, and I’m super excited to be featured on Fit For Broadway! Ever since college the fitness bug has certainly chomped down on me, and thankfully so now that I’m in the city that never sleeps, living out my dreams. Which includes, being on Broadway! Currently I’m starring in Pippin as Leading Player and having the time of my life. But when I’m not swinging on a trapeze eight times a week, I’m usually hanging with my roomie and BFF, David, or out in Central Park getting some fresh air. Otherwise I’m working out, doing yoga, taking a dance or cycle class, or EATING. Which may be my favorite activity ever. Judge me! : )INTERVIEW:
Q: What has been your favorite moment on Broadway or your journey to Broadway?
A: I wish I could delineate a little better all the wonderful moments I’ve had like my first performance on Broadway, my first gig booked in the city, hilarious mess-ups and of course all the incredible (and very famous) people I’ve met thus far. But honestly, everything has been and is such a blur, I feel like I’m always moving at the speed of light and maybe once I get a chance to decompress I’ll be better able to answer this question. Maybe I’ll put it in my memoirs lol But for now, I’ll just say it’s been a wild ride and I am grateful for every single experience I’ve had thus far. I’ve never learned more than in this last year!
Q: How would you describe your fitness routine?
A: My fitness routine is very un-routine. I do the show 8 times a week, and that’s a workout in and of itself, but the activity I do outside of that varies immensely. There’ll be times when I do yoga 3-5 times a week, run once or twice, see my personal trainer for strength training, and take a cycling class on the side. But there are definitely other weeks where I get busy and end up only doing the 7-Minute workout app every day, and just let that and the show be my workout. I try to be active everyday, unless I’ve decided I really need a recovery day. Those days usually consist of a massage (because duh), a lot of food, a good nap, and a TON of water.
Q: How do you keep your voice healthy?
A: The same way everybody does/should:
- Don’t smoke.
- Don’t scream (unless it’s supported).
- Talk less (I’ve learned this lesson in spades since starting Pippin).
- DRINK ALL THE WATER.
- Get scoped if you feel there’s a problem.
- Eat healthfully; Avoiding sugar, alcohol, and acidic foods at night.
- SLEEP (which is ALWAYS a struggle for me).
- Drink more water.
Q: What has been one of your biggest challenges on Broadway?
A: Learning the kind of endurance physically, vocally, emotionally, etc. to do 8 shows a week, plus promotional appearances, auditions, concerts and other events all while taking care of the every day and attempting to have a social life. Mostly I’ve been fighting the good fight against the physical weaknesses I’ve been blessed with. Now maybe that sentence sounds a little jumbled, but truthfully I have to say that injury and illness have been my greatest teachers and every single time a new one rears its head, I learn an incredibly valuable lesson. When I injured my hip back in school, my rehabilitation caused me to understand the inner-workings of my body and how they needed to be shaped for dance. I was now beginning to understand the why and how of dance instead just trying to copy pictures and performances. I had never had that kind of understanding previously. And when I had to get my gallbladder taken out (because of heredity but also because of poor eating habits) during Big Fish, well it definitely taught me that I need to be good to my body by feeding it well. Everywhere I turn, I always feel like allergies, colds, digestive issues, hip pain, back pain, scoliosis, shoulder issues, are constantly trying to teach me how to better equip myself to become the athlete I must be to achieve my goals. And thus far, I haven’t let a single one take me down (for too long). Though, I don’t really think that’s what they’re there for in the first place.
Q: How do you maintain a positive relationship with your body to keep up with the demands?
A: My body has come a long way from its flabby, pain-ridden, constantly sick former self. Just looking back and seeing how much I’m able to accomplish now that I would have never been able to accomplish back when, is gratifying and motivating. However, I know I still have a long way to go and that is just another force that excites me to move forward and better myself.
Q: Do you follow a specific diet?
A: Me and food have an on-again, off-again relationship. There are times when I just love food and I eat healthily and feel great. There are other times, when I love all the wrong foods, feel horrible, and then begin to hate food. To a point where I simply don’t want to consume it anymore. Thankfully, my activity level is just too dang high to not eat, so that doesn’t really happen, but it is often a struggle to find things that are appropriate for me and that fuel me physically as well as emotionally. I was raised with pretty poor eating habits, thus, I am consistently thrown back into old habits of feasting on chips, cookies, soda, and all other manner of sweets when I am stressed (which is always) or sad (which is sometimes) and needing comfort. I feel like a lot of people struggle with emotional eating, especially since food is used as a reward so often in our upbringings by parents and teachers alike. There’s also an inordinate amount of processed and sugary foods that, once you are hooked on, are impossibly hard to eradicate from your diet. I honestly feel that, because of how poorly I’ve eaten for most of my life, I’ve developed a lot of intolerances and digestion issues that are one of the biggest reasons why I’m able to stay away from highly sugary/processed foods at all. Because if I don’t, the level of sickness that occurs is pretty debilitating. However, diet will probably always be a struggle for me, but I will not stop trying to right my not so great choices.Q: What is your favorite energy-boosting snack/meal?
A: I’ve really gotten into Juice Generation lately. I’m a huge fruit consumer, but have trouble with greens, so having them all mixed together without anything added is a huge win, and it makes me feel a lot better too after my workouts!
Q: What is your favorite late night snack after performances?
A: This is an issue for me and I’m just going to assume for most performers (especially singers) because eating late at night without giving your body adequate time to process your food causes myriad problems including acid reflux. And acid reflux is the vocal devil. So although I really like to eat toaster waffles with strawberry jam at night, I’ve been trying to eat more alkalizing foods as of late. Which covers just about every green I have trouble eating during the day.
Q: What is your best advice for stage confidence?
A: Be prepared so you can have fun. One of my smartest and craziest teachers in school said, “If you’re prepared you have no reason to be nervous.” When you’re able to have fun on stage, the audience and your fellow cast mates will too and that’s a whole hell of a lot better than just getting through.
Q: Who or what inspires you?
A: Hardworking, brazenly honest people. Honesty seems to be an almost ugly thing these days, because God forbid you should hurt someone’s feelings! I think if we always expected honesty from our companions and peers, instead of having our ego’s coddled, we would all be able to coexist more happily and even progress together. Especially in this business, I see so much ego-stroking and hand-holding which truly hinders great art and destroys the possibility of creating strong bonds as humans with your fellow artists. And when you see someone who works incredibly hard, don’t you just automatically trust that their opinion is going to be worthwhile or at the very least that it’s respectable?
Q: Tips on finding the time to stay physically/vocally fit?
A: When you are an athlete, there’s no such thing as “finding” time to stay fit. You just do what you have to do and more because you know that’s what must be done. And though I don’t play a sport, I know that I am an athlete physically as well as vocally. So with that in mind, I just devote everything I can to keeping my body and throat healthy and active. It’s a full-time job.
Q: What is your advice for those trying to perform on Broadway?
A: I get asked this question a lot, and it’s always hard to pin-point a response that could work for everyone. But generally I say that you should know, without any question, that this is 1 bajillion percent what you want to do with your life. Because Broadway and performance is a lifestyle. If you want to be any good, I think you’ve really gotta throw yourself in headlong and be devoted day-in and day-out to improving yourself and your skill sets. And you’ve gotta be ready to make the sacrifices, which I find are most often social. There are going to be many times when you just have to say no to that awesome invite and stay home and get your rest.Ciara is doing the splits on a bridge!!! *applause* How amazing is that?! I was panicking haha. She’s an awesome Yogi! – J.