I recently had the privilege of being able to have a chat and ask a few questions of the Academy’s newest addition to the family spICE! She is an accomplished dancer and athlete who is full of wit and insight, and I look forward to getting to working with her and getting know her better. – Cookie
I was looking at your bio, you have a really impressive dance background.
Yeah. I have done a lot of different types of dance. I came to dance late so I felt like I needed to get my hands into anything I could when I first started.
When did you start?
I started training in 2001 in my senior year of high school. A lot of dancers start when they are three years old in ballet class. That wasn’t my story, I actually became an athlete at a very young age and was talked out of being a dancer and then eventually came back to it because of my passion.
What kind of athlete were you?
I was a runner. I was a runner from age 8-17. I ran track. I traveled the country with two different age group track teams and it was a very big part of my childhood.
What brought you back to dance?
I decided to do a play in high school and I told my parents that I was going to audition. They didn’t know what to expect. All of us kids were athletes and they didn’t have any children that were artists. So I auditioned for a play. My high school had an amazing theater program and so it was a big deal to be in a production in my school. I auditioned and I got a secondary lead and it was a drama which subsequently lead me to be in the spring musical Dream Girls. I was in the chorus of that show and that really sparked my passion for being on stage.
What lead you to burlesque?
Burlesque was something that I knew about. I knew about the resurgence when I lived in Philadelphia, but I didn’t know how to really get into it. I was in the same dance company as Sophie Sucre of Peek-A-Boo Revue and I knew that she did burlesque, but really didn’t know how I could hop into that. So after I finished Grad School I took some cabaret classes at Debbie Reynold’s studio and just really loved being around people celebrating their bodies. When I moved to Seattle 4 ½ years ago, I met Miss Briq House and the rest is pretty much history. She at that time was getting ready to have Shuga Shaq for the first time at the Can Can and I started Kittening for her and then eventually had my debut at the Sunday night Shuga Shaq and just went from there.
Did spICE! come with you from the East coast or was she somebody you created here in Seattle?
I think I had been creating her for a long time. I didn’t know how to express or exude that kind of energy in concert dance. Concert dance is a different kind of energy. It’s not entertainment. It’s art for art’s sake. So I didn’t really know how to release that energy. After my debut, I had never felt that liberated on stage. She was in me for a long time and I felt like I had freed her.
Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
Stretching. If I have the space some yoga and jogging. I usually come to the theater in baggy sweat pants and hoodie not dressed all the way for stage. My body needs to be extremely warm and sweaty before I get on stage. I have had that ritual since Grad school.
What has been the best piece of performance art you’ve seen in the last year?
Sydni Devereaux’s Led Zepplin piece she did a the Moisture Festival.
I was recently on stage with Egypt Black Nile (and basically anything she does) but her performance last year for the Viva Las Vegas competition was one of the most spectacular pieces I’ve ever seen in my life.
Kitten n’ Lou. I love CampTacular. I love their well thought out, witty productions.
Where do you get your ideas from?
It depends on various things, but mostly just from walking down the street listening to music. I will listen to a piece for weeks sometimes months and obsess about it and imagine movement motifs. Sometimes I get the piece into my body it’s not how I imagined, but once I like a motif I will take it and improvise.
What are your favorite choreographic tools?
Repetition, repeat with intensity.
I like to mash things together and embellish and take all the different styles of dance I have learned West African, Bollywood, contemporary and mix and mash them together.
Do you have a piece of advice for someone just starting out in Burlesque?
I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to offer this to someone and my advice was for them to be themselves. Be true to your art, be true to your aesthetic, be true to what you bring on stage. That doesn’t mean don’t rehearse or warm up, but you must stand for something and be yourself.