Kristine gave partnering classes during a weeklong performance workshop I attended. The first day I watched her rehearse the combination and debated leaving as I realized I might be a bit in over my head, literally. (lifts! Aahh!!) She began teaching us the combination and I quickly felt at ease with her incredible energy and encouragement. It is rare to find a teacher who can administer to different levels with such ease and consideration. I never felt intimidated or discouraged and I ended up enjoying dance more than I ever have! So much so that I committed to getting up at 5:15am to go to yoga each morning before the workshop so I was stretched and ready to do anything Kristine instructed.
She is truly an incredible dancer and each day I would watch her perform the combination with her partner in awe and absolute admiration. She has a confidence and sensuality that brings her natural talent to a level that is untouchable.
BIOGRAPHY: I am a performer who has been blessed with a career that crosses over between Broadway, dance companies, television, and film. I am currently in R & H’s Cinderella on Broadway while still finding time to dance for Ron De Jesus Dance and American Dance Machine just among many other projects. I was blessed to take a leave from Cinderella to dance the iconic role Cyd Charisse created in Singing In The Rain at Pittsburgh CLO. Apart from performing, I also choreograph and teach master partnering classes.
I am able to maintain such a demanding schedule because of my commitment and attention to my health and fitness. I was also privileged to be involved in the Broadway shows Movin’ Out, Come Fly Away, and Swing, as well as NBC’s Smash, which quickly taught me the importance of maintaining my health.
Q: What is the most physically challenging part of performing?
A: I would say performing the same repetitive movements eight times a week. It really takes a toll on your body. Even though you are being physical during a performance, I don’t consider the show itself as exercise. One has to be strong and fit before you step on stage each night.
Q: How would you describe your fitness routine?
A: I try to take ballet at least twice a week. It warms up my body the best for dancing, though I tend to change up my fitness routine with whatever activity fits into my schedule. I love to jump rope but I’ve found swimming is better for my body as of late, however there isn’t always time to get to the pool. When my schedule gets too busy, I opt for the elliptical machine in my building’s gym. I love to ride my bicycle in the nicer weather. If I haven’t fit in a workout, I will walk to the theatre (67 blocks), which takes me about an hour. It feels so great to get your body going before the show. I’ve even done kung fu, I’m an orange belt!
Q: How do you keep your voice healthy?
A: Hydration and sleep are two things I need. I never used to drink enough water and thankfully I am so much more aware now. I drink 16oz of water immediately when I wake up. Also, I fill up a 32oz bottle of water that I challenge myself to finish by the end of the show. It’s a great way to make sure I get my intake, not to mention the water I drink throughout the rest of the day as well.
Q: Do you follow a specific diet?
A: I am meat and dairy free. A friend recommended the book White Wash by Joseph Keon. It was the deciding factor for going dairy free. It is a brilliant book and it talks about why we’re not meant to ingest dairy. It links the negative effects of acne, digestive problems, and even more serious diseases to diary intake. It was hard though…When I made this transition in my diet, I kept telling myself I couldn’t give up on cheese! I finally discovered dairy alternatives in the brand Daiya, which is the most amazing dairy free cheese! You can find it at Whole Foods and most organic markets. At home, I cook a lot of Vegan dishes. I even make a Vegan pesto that unless I told people that there was no cheese in it, they were completely unaware.
Q: What is your favorite energy-boosting snack/meal?
A: I’m not a big snacker but I do love Kind bars. I used to always have protein bars but they have so much sugar. I like Kind bars because I like that I can see the ingredients in them. I never really crave sugary foods. Fruit wise, I love the seedless oranges…Cuties. When they are in season, I usually have about 3 in my bag at a time. I also like bananas and dried fruit and nuts.
Q: What is your favorite late night snack after performances?
A: Aside from my glass of wine, I love hummus either on Wasa crackers or broccoli. With a late night schedule I try not to eat a whole dinner after the show. I like something light like homemade popcorn, which is my go to snack if I ever feel like I have to get in that extra shape for an event such as Broadway Bares.
Q: What is your best advice/strategies to fight fatigue?
A: I used to practice Buddhism. I now use a meditation technique called Ziva Meditation started by Emily Fletcher. She teaches a 3-day course that leads one on their path to their personal practice. Upon completing my very first class, I knew my life was changed forever. I meditate 20 minutes twice a day. It is the first thing I do every morning and it centers me for each day. I can’t control what life throws at me, but meditation grounds me so that in each moment, I can be more aware and choose not to be as affected by life situations because life is always going to happen.
Q: What is your best advice for stage confidence?
A: I don’t think I have specific advice for stage confidence because I believe it comes from one’s personal experience. Although, I do think training and technique provide invaluable confidence in performing. Someone once said to me “Technique is freedom.” If you have the technique, you can let go and trust that that pirouette or that leap or that note is going to be there which in turn gives you more opportunity to explore beyond the steps and create characters with freedom.Q: Who or what inspires you?
A: Three of my best friends truly inspire me…I feel so blessed. I’m blown away whenever I witness their artistry. When you see how much talent they have, you know you are watching divinity in action. They inspire me every day.
I try to be open to inspiration not just artistically but in everyday life: spiritually, personally, and professionally. My friend inspired me to become vegan and now I’m more environmentally conscious because of it. Inspiration comes in so many ways.
Q: How does your physical fitness affect your performance abilities?
A: I have more stamina in a show if I have done some sort of physical activity that day. It makes me feel on top of my game. If I go to ballet class that day, any difficult moves in the show come with such ease.
Q: Tips on finding the time to stay physically/vocally fit.
A: That is a tricky one. I’ve been blessed to be busy aside from my show and I find that finding time for workouts and enough sleep is hard to come by. I’ll try and take advantage of a two-show day by staying near the theatre and napping in the dressing room. I try to walk as much as possible to fit in any extra exercise, from rehearsal to meeting to theatre, etc.Q: What is your advice for those trying to perform on Broadway?
A: When I came to New York, I feel that it was very different than how it is now. I came to New York, as many did, with a suitcase and a dream. I believe that getting an undergraduate degree in theatre nowadays is incredibly valuable in a way it wasn’t then. There are so many amazing programs and teachers in Universities that are prepping their students in such great ways to help them succeed. From this advancement, I see that aspiring artists don’t have to come to New York and start from scratch. They are already a step ahead because they get to meet casting directors and agents before they even arrive here. In just my show alone, many of the ensemble and even two of our leads are Michigan graduates and got cast right out of college. Even our choreographer is a U of M alumni.
Even with this advice though, I also hope young artists try to not ever feel a sense of entitlement with a degree. No one is entitled to anything in this city or industry without applying themselves and having a good work ethic. You have to continually be humble and grateful to be a part of it all.