23 Quick Questions with Broadway Standout Eliza Ohman
Eliza Ohman (photo by High 5 Games, courtesy Ohman)
Broadway baby Eliza Ohman began her dance training in Denver, CO, and at age 15 was chosen to join Robert L. Reed's tap company, the St. Louis Hoofers Club. After touring nationally with the Hoofers Club, she moved to NYC and attended The King's College, graduating with a bachelor of arts in media, culture, and the arts. She's been a swing and co-dance captain in Hamilton and has performed in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, on "Saturday Night Live" and "America's Got Talent," and in Carly Rae Jepsen's "I Really Like You" music video. Catch her on the Great White Way this month in the newly opened King Kong—and read on for The Dirt! —Courtney Bowers
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I always wanted to be a dancer! I had no idea what that meant, but I knew I wanted to spend my days dancing.
What are your pet peeves?
Dishes in the sink, complaining about something you agreed to do, and people talking during movies.
If you could work with any choreographer, past or present, who would it be?
Who's your dance crush?
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I cannot resist Ben & Jerry's Tonight Dough.
What dance item can you not live without?
My foam roller.
Do you have any pets?
Yes! My husband and I rescued a pit bull four years ago and he's my absolute favorite thing in the world.
What would you be doing if you weren't a dancer?
Working in education policy with a focus on getting art back into public schools.
What's your most-watched TV show?
"Friends." I can quote almost every episode.
What are your favorite dance movies?
Singin' in the Rain and Center Stage.
What's your go-to stress reliever?
Yoga, but if I'm not in the mood to work out, I'll grab a book and go read in the park.
What makes you most nervous?
I was notoriously late as a kid and now I'm irrationally nervous about being late to any meeting, rehearsal, call time, etc.
What's your biggest fear?
SPIDERS! THEY'RE HORRIFYING!
Who's your dance role model?
Robyn Hurder. We worked together in DC doing a regional production of Kiss Me, Kate. She played Lois/Bianca and every night she was technical, captivating, and unapologetically herself onstage. I sat in the wings to watch her numbers almost every night. I want to be her when I grow up.
What's the most-played song on your playlist?
"Bad Bad News," by Leon Bridges.
What can always make you laugh?
Any video of people doing regular activities in those inflatable T rex suits. It gets me every time.
Do you have any nicknames?
So many! My dad loves creating nonsensical nicknames, but his favorite for me is BirdDog Johnson. I'm pretty sure he calls me BirdDog more than Eliza.
Have you had any embarrassing moments onstage?
I had MANY moments when I was swinging at Hamilton, but one of my favorites was when I was performing with the Chicago company and the dance captain's mic got stuck in my hair. Everyone else was setting their chairs for Cabinet Battle #2 while we were stuck in a half-hug upstage center, trying to yank our heads apart. It was not subtle.
What are you most proud of?
What's the strangest thing in your dance bag?
A toothbrush. I brush my teeth compulsively.
What dancer would you drop everything to go see?
If you were a superhero, what would your special power be?
Flight! I read Peter Pan in the second grade and never got over the dream of flying.
What's your favorite Broadway show?
A version of this story appeared in the November 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "The Dirt with Eliza Ohman."
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.