Royster in rehearsal for Shuffle Along (photo by Devin Alberda, courtesy DKC/O&M)
Talented tapper Karissa Royster made her Broadway debut this past spring in Shuffle Along, shining in Savion Glover’s stylized, 1920s-inspired choreography. Royster trained at Dance Plus in San Antonio, TX, studying ballet, jazz, modern and rhythm tap, before joining RPM Youth Tap Ensemble under the direction of Barbara Phillips. Since then, she’s performed at dance festivals around the world and has won awards, including the Buster Cooper Tap Scholarship. She’s no slouch on the academic front, either: A Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholar, Royster just graduated from New York University with a degree in political science. Catch her in Shuffle Along’s run at the Music Box Theatre, and read on for The Dirt! —Courtney Bowers
What’s the most-played song on your playlist?
“Be Mine,” by Alabama Shakes
What’s your most-watched TV show?
Probably “Breaking Bad”!
Do you have any secret talents?
I played the flute for seven years.
What’s your favorite food?
Tacos. It’s the Texas in me.
Do you have any nicknames?
What’s your biggest piece of advice for other young performers?
Take artistic risks and explore outside your comfort zone.
What achievement are you most proud of?
Getting my bachelor’s degree from NYU
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I wanted to be a neurosurgeon for a long time. Both of my parents work in the medical field. I look up to them a lot, so being a doctor seemed fitting.
If you could work with any performer, who would it be?
Either Jimmy Slyde or Gregory Hines
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
I really love watching cooking shows even though I hardly cook.
Do you have any pre-performance habits or superstitions?
I try to make sure I have at least 20 to 30 minutes alone to center myself and have some peace.
What’s one thing you can’t live without?
If you weren’t a dancer, what would you be?
I might be a teacher—either an early childhood educator or a college professor.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Bali, Indonesia, or Santorini, Greece
Do you have any favorite quotes or mantras?
“Live your truth.”
Go-to stress reliever?
I like to go for walks, either in Manhattan or through Astoria Park in Queens.