Who are you and how did you get to Brooklyn?
I was born in Los Angeles and raised in West Virginia. I’m a dancer, Southern Californian, Appalasian, former cheerleader, current climber, and artist coming from many families, histories, and backgrounds.
My last year of college was spent with one semester each in Brooklyn and San Francisco — I was trying to figure out where to move after graduating, and my time in both places led me back to Brooklyn.
How did you start climbing?
Growing up in West Virginia, a majority of my childhood involved camping, hiking, and exploring the woods behind our house. Climbing is huge in the state (holla at the New River!), and I climbed a bit outdoors when I was younger, but in high school most of my time was devoted to studying and dancing. I started climbing more seriously when I lived in San Francisco and kept up with it when I moved back to Brooklyn.
How has climbing changed your life?
As a dancer, my body is the the thing I’m most familiar with in this world. I’m a performer in Then She Fell, an immersive theater show in Williamsburg that’s based on the writings of Lewis Carroll and takes place inside a century-old building. All of our choreography is site specific: we’re scaling bookshelves, dancing on tables, climbing on ladders, and moving through desks and mirror frames. I’ve been part of this show for almost two years, and as I’ve gotten more and more serious with climbing, I’ve noticed a heightened sense of where my weight shifts and how I connect with surfaces inside the framework of a very familiar environment (for reference, I’ve performed over 400 times and counting!). It’s been fascinating to feel my physicality change — there’s a lot of overlap in all movement forms, but climbing builds very different groups of muscles than the ones I developed through years of ballet and contemporary dance training.
What are your current biggest projects, on and off the wall?
So many things! Then She Fell is certainly a major one. We’ve been running for over four years and are currently extended through 2017 (and maybe forever? stay tuned). I serve as the Vice Chair of the Dance/NYC Junior Committee, a volunteer advocacy group of badass artists, activists, and administrators between the ages of 21-30. I’ve also been a City Rocks mentor since 2015 and am excited to continue climbing with Ashleigh, my mentee, throughout this school year.
In the climbing world, I’m super psyched to be getting outside more this season. I just came back from Flash Foxy’s Girl Crew Ramble and was endlessly inspired by the ladies I met up in the Gunks. I’m mostly a boulderer, but I’ve been slowly picking up trad climbing — I love the puzzle solving aspect of climbing, and trad is that x100000. And…HUECO! I’m heading down to Texas with one of my closest friends from college (also a badass lady climber) and will be training hard in the gym and outdoors to prepare for December.
Who or what inspires you?
The Southern artists and cultural organizers who make up Alternate ROOTS
Jo Carson’s listening and Anne Carson’s quiet brilliance
The Access Fund, because of the outdoor climbing they enable and protect
My castmates at TSF and my co-conspirators at JComm
The generous and intelligent women in my life: Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Gerri Houlihan, Summer Lee Rhatigan, and my mother <3.
Keep up with and stay tuned for more portraits done by Leah Bank and community spotlights on our blog!
Want to get involved in the BKB community? Hit us up with your idea, pitch or a note at[email protected].