When Elizabeth Parkinson was 11 years old, she saw a production of Bob Fosse’s musical Dancin’—and immediately knew that she wanted to dance. Though she didn’t start training seriously in ballet until age 13, she was a natural. After honing her skills at a local studio in her hometown of Tampa, FL, Parkinson joined the Joffrey II ballet company when she was 17. She moved to the main troupe in 1984 and was one of its leading dancers for eight years. But Parkinson was itching to explore the musical theater world. She left the Joffrey and freelanced for a few years before moving on to Broadway, where she scored parts including a featured role in 1999’s Fosse and Brenda in Twyla Tharp’s 2002 jukebox musical Movin’ Out (for which she won an Astaire Award). Today, Parkinson is busy teaching at the FineLine Theatre Arts school in New Milford, CT, which she co-owns with her husband (and fellow Fosse and Movin’ Out cast member), Scott Wise. —Margaret Fuhrer
Parkinson sewing an early pair of pointe shoes
Stop worrying about the things that don’t matter! In fact, don’t worry at all—it’s a waste of energy and time.
You started dancing a little late, so you always feel like you’re playing catch-up with other dancers. You often look at yourself and don’t like what you see: no muscle definition, too skinny, too fat, too this, too that. But you know that you want to dance, and that there isn’t anything else in the world that will satisfy you in the same way. So let go of this negative stuff. Ultimately, it just holds you back.
Instead, focus on the wonderful things about yourself! There is room for everybody to succeed in this world. Have you thought about small dance companies? Broadway? Open your eyes and look outside the box.
Finally, try to have a more diverse life outside of dance. You are training to be an artist who expresses life through her body. So let that body experience life!