What is shaping your mind, body, and spirit?
I have always believed that performers are the most intuitive creatures. Our ability to connect the energies of not only ourselves but those around us, is truly remarkable. My work and training with King Kong has only been more helpful in refining those senses. The amount of team work and connectivity required to do that show is tremendous, and there are so many aspects and details that go into each movement of Kong that nothing is ever done on a individual basis.
But as this is my Broadway Debut, King Kong has been an incredible challenge in performing 8 shows a week. Keeping the body and mind healthy is a job on its own, and there are several ways that I had to adjust. The easiest way to describe it is to treat yourself as an extreme athlete in multiple disciplines: a marathon runner, football player, and gymnast.
– As a marathon runner, you must eat correctly. I was so accustomed to having a high protein/low carb diet because that is what we are used to hearing to attain a lean physique. However, because of this, my body was unable to sustain the amount of energy needed to support this show. I saw a nutritionist that explained to me the necessity of having a balanced diet, incorporating more carbs to burn and have sustainable energy throughout the week. I also was never a person to snack. So like a marathon runner, I learned to have light snacks in my dressing station to get a quick bite in between big Kong sequences.
– As a football player, you have to take care of many aspects of your physical health. Strength, flexibility, and endurance. As a dancer, I believed that my body was capable of combining all these elements, but once again, 8 shows a week is another battle. Taking care of the body before and after each show, getting the proper amount of rest to recover, and drinking enough water and electrolytes is key.
– As a gymnast, versatility is how you become the most dynamic athlete. As a broadway performer, you should see yourself as an all-around gymnast. Each person may have their best “event” (singing, dancing, acting, puppetry, acrobatics). King Kong is an all-around show. It requires a lot from each performer. Everyone is showcased with their best abilities, but everyone is challenged to do something that may have never been done before. Having the desire and willingness to accept that challenge keeps the body and mind strong. You will only grow your craft and becoming more competitive and useful.
All of these things challenge the body and mind and it can be exhausting. When it comes to the soul, we have to remember that being a dynamic performer will come with dynamic emotions. Every week, every day, every show will be different. It is draining to always be “on.” Relying on the energy of cast mates and teamwork has gotten me through these tough times. Recognizing the energy and state of mind you are in, and being able to voice it, helps a lot. In King Kong, we must rely on each other for so much, partnering, puppetry, rigging each others lines, all of this makes each individual important. But also being able to rely on your cast mates for support will get me through tough days and shows.
•Favorite way to connect to your body
I love to take a shower before every show. Even on two show days, it helps to feel like its a fresh start. Taking baths at night to recover. Before a show, I love to listen to music. I have always felt connected and inspired by rhythm and it gets me the most excited to perform.
• Favorite way to calm your mind
Just as much as music gets me excited and energized for a show, its definitely the most effective for calming me down as well. The style of music completely influences my mood. And I tend to listen to a lot of down-tempo house music and jazz after a show to come down after a performance.
• Most useful tool for Broadway
I truly think that versatility is the best asset in this industry. Broadway requires a lot from a person. You have to be a singer, dancer, actor, understudy, and now more specific disciplines like playing an instrument and puppetry. Having the willingness to learn all these disciplines and be fearless is the first step to having producers and directors trust you with their work. But you most also be a good person. I tell pre-professionals all the time, “It’s not who you know, but who knows you.” Almost every job or experience I have gotten in recent years has been because I was referred by someone from a previous job. People want to work with someone that they can trust to be professional and easy to work with. Working hard with positivity energy, and offering input will get you far.
• Your favorite energy snack
Salted Cashews and Almonds. We sweat some much so I crave salty foods often. Drinking electrolyte beverages throughout the day is also a huge factor in recovery.
• Your non-negotiable in your day
I don’t have any daily rituals. I have always been a go with the flow and energy thats with me at the moment.
• Your greatest success
I tend to evaluate my successes on if I get asked to return. I pride myself on creating relationships with choreographers and performers that will continue to trust me and ask me to work on future projects. I don’t have an end goal, but I want to continue on the path to work consistently. Of course there will be times when your season is slow, but being someone that people rely on to create work, or replace someone immediately is always a good feeling to have and recognition of your work ethic.
• Your greatest failure (and what you learned!)
Not that these are complete failures, but I have lost a few jobs in the past due to tough decisions to make, or not being the ‘fit’ that the director was looking for at the time. What I have learned is that performers are intuitive people. I have always gone with my gut in making decisions about my career. If it doesn’t feel right at the beginning, it will be hard to stay motivated. Much of the rejection I have received has opened up doors and time to do other projects. I work very hard to give the best I can at every audition and job so that I can never feel like rejection was my fault. You’re not always going to be the type needed, but you can sleep better knowing that you gave everything that you could.
From the dialogue with FFB & now, You. Comment below to join the conversation.
Photos & Interview by Jane Jourdan.