- An Interview with Anna Elliot -
HAPPY MAY! Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing my former Otterbein University dance professor, Anna Elliot. Starting her professional dance career at age 18, Anna was launched into an extremely intense new life and new schedule head first. Anna danced her whole life. She graduated from highschool in 2002, auditioned for The Rockettes, made the cut, and moved directly to New York City. After her debut season as a Rockette ended that January, she auditioned for the 42nd Street First National Tour and, once again, made the cut! She toured the country for a little over a year, and when the contract ended, moved immediately back to New York - where she met her husband Greg through a mutual friend. After the tour, Anna performed as a Rockette consecutively for 8 years. Whilst a member of the company, Anna had the opportunity to do a large amount of TV work. She did Today Show appearances, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade appearances, radio interviews, and much more. In 2011, Anna made the hard transition from professional dancer into uncertainty. Having reached her dreams at such a young age, it was a challenge to figure out what she would do during the next part of her life. It wasn’t until she found Otterbein University, that she discovered a new identity as a teacher, a choreographer, and a mentor. She and Greg started a family in Ohio. Together, they raised three beautiful children. This brings us to the present day. I can tell you from first hand experience that Anna goes above and beyond as a teacher. She pushed her students to grow not only as dancers but also as human beings. In every class the importance of work ethic, routine, balance, and organization are emphasized. And without further adieu, I am SOOO excited to share some of her organization tips and tricks!!
TIP #1: Show up early!
"What was your daily routine as a rockette?"
Anna: "We rehearsed 6 days a week. Everyday I’d get up, drink my coffee, get ready, get on the subway, and grab a banana to eat before rehearsal. I would make sure that I was at rehearsal at least 45 minutes early. Once I’d get to rehearsal, I’d always get my feet taped up and ready to go. I’d stretch and review for stuff that was going to be on that day. You always needed to make sure you were on your game. You had to know all your numbers and all your choreography. So I made sure I’d go through that and be ready to go. And then rehearsal would start. We had four 1 hour and 20 minute rehearsals throughout the day with two 10 minute breaks and a lunch break strictly based on our union’s time rules. They were very precise about breaks being given on time. It was an intense schedule. At the end of the day, I’d go home and Greg would always have two big buckets of ice ready for me. I’d ice my feet, we’d eat dinner, and I’d go to bed. Once the show schedule started it was even harder in some ways. My first few years, I was in the night cast and shows would start at about 2p and go until about 10 o'clock at night. The ladder part of my career I was in the morning cast so shows would start sometimes at 9am and go until about 3 or 4p. And then you’d have your evenings. But you didn’t really have your evenings because you were exhausted. So I tried to stay pretty disciplined with getting enough rest and staying in my routine.”
TIP #2: Create a spot for everything!
What did your dressing room makeup station look like as a Rockette?
Anna: “I had a spot for everything. We had 3 drawers. And we had cubby holes up top. I had my hair stuff (to do my twist updo) in one drawer. My bobby pins, my hairspray, and my brush were all laid out in this drawer. In the center drawer I had all my makeup separated into little bins. I had bins for my eyes, I had bins for my foundation and blush, and I had a whole section for my eyelashes. And the glue. And then in the next bin I would usually have all my extras. I always had a spare of everything. And up top I would have my snacks, my foam roller, and I also had a little picture of Greg and I. I tried to keep my spot very clean and elegant looking. It wasn’t always this way, but as I grew older, and honestly just to release stress - I organized. If my spot was chaotic I just felt more chaotic. When I was in a rush, at least everything was in its place and I didn’t have to look and shuffle for things.”
TIP #3: Create a routine that sets you up for success throughout your day!
How do you maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle today as a choreographer, a dance professor, an artist, and a mother?
Anna: “Routine, routine, routine. I stick with a routine Monday through Friday. For example - Monday is a cleaning day. Even as a mom with my children, we do the exact same thing every single night. We shower, we go upstairs, we eat a piece of fruit, we read to them, and they go to bed. It just kind of gets them ready for night time. The routine starts when they are babies and continues as they grow up. The great thing about routine is that you start to know and feel what’s next and what’s to be expected. This empowers you to have a sense of control. You just feel accomplished, you feel stronger when you have a routine set in place.”
What is one of your all time favorite performing memories?
Anna: “My absolute favorite memory is my very last performance as a Rockette. I knew it was my last performance. My husband, my mom, and my dance teacher were at the performance sitting in the front row. I remember smiling and crying every kickline. I just tried to take a mental picture of that part of my life as I looked at the view of Radio City from the stage. And I remember walking off the stage for the very last time and looking back and knowing that that was it. Hardest, most amazing job I’ve ever had in my life. It was special."