I spent the first 18 years of my life growing up in the north Chicago suburbs where I learned to read at the age of 3 with the help of magnetic letters on the refrigerator. Many thanks to this and to my mother reading chapter books with me regularly, in first grade I dressed for career day at school as a writer. It was at this young age that I first discovered my love for language and rhythm.
I also started dance classes at age 7, partly because my sister took dance classes and I wanted to be just like her, and partly because I was slightly pigeon-toed as a child. After just a few weeks of ballet, the studio owner suggested that tap might be a better fit for me. And so my interest in rhythm expanded.
As it turns out, both poetry and dance utilize language, rhythm, and movement (although in different ways) as forms of expression and communication. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I became deeply entrenched in both, and while friends considered practical and promising careers in fields such as technology and sciences, I became determined to make my passions align with my place in the grown-up world.
photo by Matt Pilsner
My dance training became serious in junior high when I was accepted as a founding member of Footprints Tap Ensemble, a pre-professional youth company based at Talent Forum in the Chicagoland area. I searched for a college with a strong presence of tap, which lead me to NASD accredited Hope College in Holland, Michigan for a minor in dance. I had intended to major in a field, but after just one semester of poetry at the college level, I knew I wanted to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in English with a focus in creative writing. While at Hope, I performed with InSync Dance Theatre, Michigan's only professional tap and jazz company (since re-branded as H2 Dance) and I served as an editor for Opus literary magazine.
Immediately after graduation, I earned my Masters of Fine Arts in creative writing at Roosevelt University in Chicago, where I worked with the program's literary journal Oyez Review.
My tap teachers and mentors include Sarah Cook Flynn, Rosanne Mork, and Mark Yonally. I have also been privileged to take class with and perform alongside many tap greats including Jimmy Slyde, Teddy Levy, Dianne Walker, Heather Cornell, Roxane Butterfly, Sam Weber, Mike Minery, Jimmy Tate, Omar Edwards, Dormeisha Sumbry-Edwards, Ayodele Casel, Karen Callaway Williams, Andrew Nemr, and Caleb Teicher.