Throughout my school years, I’d occasionally fake being sick to watch videotapes of Solid Gold and American Bandstand. The concept of body-as-art, of being so intimately responsible for the creation of something, wouldn’t let go of me.

During a chance visit to Chicago, I took my first dance class at Gus Giordano’s. I was offered a full scholarship on the spot and couldn’t refuse. A year later, I transferred to the Lou Conte Dance Studio scholarship program. While Lou acknowledged my raw potential, he none-too-quietly commented on my lack of technical experience. Taking a requisite class alongside members of Hubbard Street – Chicago’s premiere dance company – was like going through puberty in a room full of Calvin Klein models! My tendency to over-analyze steps did little to accelerate my artistic growth. “Stop thinking and start feeling!” my mentor Claire Bataille let loose one day. I took that life-changing advice as literally as my body could muster.

Five years later, as a founding member of River North Dance Chicago, I was cast by choreographer Ginger Farley in Space Witch, my very first solo. Gifted mentor that she is, Ginger pushed me past my limitations by never assuming I had any. For seventeen seasons, with an unquestioning dedication she helped cultivate, I had the privilege of serving as muse and soloist to an array of internationally renowned choreographers.

I feel my caretaker instincts kicking in as I catch a glimpses of myself in the upcoming dance generation – the ones still learning to stand up straight, but resolved to do justice to the craft. I want to tell them to trust their instincts, that dance could very well prove to be the one cherished facet of their lives where it’s actually more practical to lead with the heart than with the head.”