Relay Dance Collective's upcoming show "Beginnings" will feature triple-threat performer Carly Squires Hutchison. Carly has performed with Seattle Children's Theatre, Wooden O (with Seattle Shakespeare Company), and Village Theatre. A former student in Spectrum Dance Theater's pre-professional Academy program, Carly holds a BFA in Musical Theatre and a Minor in Dance Performance from Central Washington University.
Want to see this awesome dancer perform? Get your tickets to "Beginnings" now [click here].
Q. One of the pieces you're featured in is a 1985 Spectrum Dance Theater piece by SuzAnne Duckworth. What's it been like working with her?
A. Pretty amazing. She was actually my first teacher when I returned to dance in about 3rd grade. I have always enjoyed her spirit and passion for dance and it is an honor to perform her work. I am dancing her part too, so I feel like I'm carrying on a legacy!
Q. You're both a classically trained dancer as well as vocalist. That
must help in the musical theater world!
A. It's true! Being able to dance has helped me tremendously. I started training in dance before I trained as a singer, and, looking back, I wouldn't have done it any other way. It's the number one piece of advice that I give to anyone interested in musical theater: Take dance classes!
Q. Tell me more about growing up at Spectrum Dance Theater and your friendship with RDC co-director Austin Sexton.
A. Austin and I have known each other since we were in the womb. Literally. My mom was taking ballet from her mom while they were both pregnant. We also spent a lot of time near the front desk after class', as we both had to wait a while to get picked up. Both Austin and I have witnessed and experienced a lot of change. We've gone our separate ways from time-to-time, but have always remained friends, and that's awesome!
Q. What was Spectrum's Academy program like?
A. Being in the Academy was a great experience. It really taught me how much time you have to dedicate to dance and gave me a great work ethic in classes and rehearsals. I don't really believe in "marking" through choreography anymore because you don't really gain anything from it. I also gained a TON of knowledge and experience being in class or rehearsal 20+ hours a week, and I can now use that experience in my theatrical life as well.
Q. Tell me a little bit about your time in Central's Musical Theatre program.
A. I didn't really know what to expect from the program going in. I was a transfer student, so I had already taken my general studies classes which meant I took only theater and dance classes during my 3 years at CWU. That part was awesome! I learned a lot about my strengths as a performer and even more about the things I needed and still need to work on to further my career. I also discovered my love for directing as well as my desire to work as a dance captain. But I'll be honest, I am very glad to be out of school so I can work and audition here in Seattle as much as my heart desires.
Q. What's the hardest part about musical theater auditions?
A. Relaxing and being yourself. There is always going to be an element of excitement and anxiousness in an audition and having some of those nerves going is healthy, but it can be very hard to tame them. I have realized that I need to just keep distracting myself and making myself or anybody else laugh. You have to put in the work before the audition, and then just trust that you'll do your job when you get there, and if you've really put in the work, you will! And the other thing to remember is that the people behind the table want you to do well, they are most definitely NOT out to get you, even though it can feel like that sometimes, so have fun!
Q. What are you doing after RDC's beginnings?
A. After Beginnings, I will continue auditioning, working at the front desk at Bocz Salon, and starting in May, I will be swinging "Funny Girl" at Village Theatre. That means I am the understudy for the entire female ensemble, and I am responsible for learning seven different parts.
What are your goals as a performing artist?
A. My goals as an artist are to love the work I'm doing and to pass on my passion to a younger generation. Performing is amazing and I will always want to do it, but I start to feel a void unless I'm also working with kids in some way.
Q. Will you be dancing with RDC in the future? (Say yes!).
A. If my schedule allows I definitely say yes! I have had a such a fun time working with RDC and I really like the atmosphere in rehearsals. Who knows, maybe I'll even want to choreograph sometime!
Austin Sexton co-directs RDC and is also a company member of 3rd Shift Dance. She has performed at Velocity Dance Center, as part of the Arts Crush Festival, and most recently, at Seattle Art Museum's "ReMixed." Austin is on faculty at Spectrum Dance Theater and, with Jasmine Morgan, leads RDC's community outreach program teaching dance in public schools. The daughter of a Spectrum co-founder, Austin has been instrumental in bringing vintage jazz into RDC’s repertory, and is overjoyed to present work by another Spectrum co-founder, SuZanne Duckworth, in “Beginnings.”
Get your tickets to "Beginnings" now! [Click here].
Q. Tell me about what you're performing in Beginnings?
A. I am performing in four pieces this year, all of which I am very excited for! I’ll be dancing in my own piece, "The First”, Mary Kay’s “Surviving the Undertow” and SuzAnne’s “Momento" (in the same part that my mother danced back in 1985!) I am also dancing a solo by Gabrielle Nomura, to Janis Joplin’s rendition of “Summertime”. This is a big deal for me because it's the first time I’ve danced a solo as an adult; I’m pumped to able to explore my own personal range of emotion.
Q. Tell me more about your work "The First."
A. My piece explores the idea of the first time you have really loved someone (in any way). It's about companionship, friendship, relationships, love, passion etc. It’s about having someone(s) in your life who you can truly depend on. For example, my parents were the first people I learned to love; Gabrielle was the first friend in high school I knew I could love and trust; my best friend Michelle took on the role of my sister when I lost my brother; or meeting my nephew (Michelle’s son) for the first time, and knowing that that child saved me. This piece is for all of them, really … these people have taught me so much. They've helped me experience things I never would have, had I not known them.
Q. What's going to be the biggest challenge for you in the show?
A. Dancing the role that my mother danced in “Momento.” I have always looked up to her as a dancer; she is the person who has always inspired me, so I am really excited (and nervous!) to be able to bring her part to life and make it my own.
Q. Tell me more about RDC's relationship with 3rd Shift Dance and Spectrum Dance Theater.
A. I was basically born at the Spectrum school (my mom was dancing in the company when she was pregnant with me). When I was little, my mom and Dale Merill (former Spectrum Artistic Director) used to just hand me off to one another while the other one went in to teach class. When I was about 3 or 4, I started taking ballet from Dale.
I was a Spectrum student until age 15, returned there when I was 17 (after studying at Dance Fremont!), and I'm now an instructor there. I will always consider it a home away from home.
It was through Spectrum that I met Xaviera Vandermay. Xav danced professionally for Spectrum, and is now Artistic Director of 3rd Shift Dance. She’s older than me, so we never danced together there, but I remember watching her back in the early 2000s and loving the way she moved. It wasn't until about a year ago, that she randomly came into the restaurant I worked at that we reconnected and I recruited her to choreograph for RDC’s premiere show. I loved the piece she did on us so much, I auditioned for 3SD and have been dancing with her ever since! It’s great to have her as a friend and ally, because she creates a lot of amazing performance opportunities and is always excited to collaborate with us and support our shows by bringing in her fierce spirit and choreography.
Q. How has Relay Dance Collective grown and changed since we last spoke?
A. It's grown so much! We are really taking ownership of our vision and doing everything in our power to achieve our goals. We have recently started the beginning phases of our community outreach program to create dance opportunities for children who wouldn't otherwise have the chance to dance. I am really excited for this; I think that it’s extremely important for children to have the opportunity to explore what the performing arts mean to them. Dancing can build self-confidence, teach teamwork, ignite children's imaginations and so much more.
Q. Why should people come see Beginnings?
A. For one, there will be so many talented and amazing dancers, actors and musicians -- the performance showcases our diverse backgrounds and stories; it's a privilege to be able to share that.