CS: So we’re here with Brooke Altman.
CS: So you’re a senior, yes?
CS: So what’s next for you?
BA: Florida State.
CS: Is that where your sister is?
CS: Are you excited about your next chapter in life?
BA: I am, but I’m nervous a little bit. Sad to leave all this fun stuff.
CS: And what fun stuff is that?
BA: Dance, friends, family.
CS: It’s a big move, all the way down the East Coast to Florida.
BA: I’m a little scared, but I think I’ll be okay.
CS: And is there a place for dance in your future?
BA: I think I’m going to minor, so I’ll still be dancing in college.
CS: And what will your major be?
BA: Pre-med. Hard stuff.
CS: When did you start dancing?
BA: I was three, and I started in the Somerset studio, when we had that.
CS: And who was your teacher?
BA: Her name was Amity. I don’t really remember her that well. (ed. note: Amity Bryson, former CATS dancer and briefly on the faculty.)
CS: And when did you start company?
BA: When I was five, I was in the Cubs, with a bunch of older girls. And Sue was the teacher.
CS: Your older sister danced with us, right?
BA: Yes. Until her freshman year.
CS: Is that what made you want to dance?
BA: That’s why I did company. Well, I started to dance because she was dancing, and then we went to her competition, and I told my mom I wanted to do that, and then the next year, I was in her company.
CS: So you were in company with her?
CS: What companies have you been through at Center Stage?
BA: Chamber Ballet company, and Tap CATS until a couple years ago, and then CATS. I did Jr. CATS, and that whole route.
CS: Now you’re a CAT. What does that mean to you?
BA: I think it’s an honor to be a CAT, because we are the most elite group here, and everyone looks up to us, and it’s just like family here. I love it. I’m going to miss it a lot.
CS: How would you describe your journey through Center Stage?
BA: I think dance has definitely shaped who I am, like how I manage my time, and how I have confidence. I think it all stems from here and people I’ve worked with.
CS: You mentioned that it’s like family here, so is it like your second home?
BA: Yes, definitely.
CS: So how many days or hours do you dance?
BA: Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, but then I’m here for extra rehearsals. I come in some Thursdays or Mondays to work on my solo, so it varies.
CS: So you have your CATS friends obviously. Do you have your dance friends and your school friends separately?
BA: Well, I’m super-close to my dance friends because we’ve been dancing together forever. And then I have my school friends, but at this point we all kind of hang out together.
CS: Speaking of school, how do you do?
BA: I think I do pretty well. I’m in honors and AP classes.
CS: When you’re not dancing, what do you do?
BA: I work a lot. I work at Sunglass Hut, selling sunglasses.
CS: So, you have a job, and you’re here, and you have school, and your friends. How do you balance it all?
BA: It’s pretty hard. I usually have a lot on my plate, and get overwhelmed. A lot of the time I make weekly lists, and write out what I’m doing, even with the time and try to stay really organized. Everything seems to work out.
CS: What are your plans for the summer, before college?
BA: I’ll have two jobs down at the shore again, ice cream scooping, and just go to the beach.
CS: When you go to college, are you going to be near your sister?
BA: She lives on-campus, and I’ll be in the dorm, so probably five minutes away, but not together.
CS: Are you close with your sister?
BA: Yeah, we talk every day, Facetime. We’re really close.
CS: And you have a younger sister.
BA: Yes, fourteen. We’re all close.
CS: But she doesn’t dance?
BA: No, she’s the athlete. She danced for about two years, but it wasn’t her thing.
CS: What is your favorite musical? Or movie?
BA: “Rent.: Even the movie, I love it.
CS: What type of music do you listen to?
BA: I really like the Goo-Goo Dolls, I like slower music, but then I also like Blink-182. But no rap.
CS: What kind of music inspires you, and makes you want to dance?
BA: Kind of emotional music, songs that actually have meaning. Like Blink-182, they don’t really talk about anything. But the music Jen uses, like Beth Hart where it’s real and raw and emotional.
CS: Is there a particular dance style that is your favorite?
BA: It’s definitely between contemporary and jazz. I haven’t tapped in a while, but that used to be my favorite.
CS: If you had to pick one dance from all the years you’ve been here that was your favorite, what would it be?
BA: “At the Bottom.” Definitely.
CS: And that was Jen’s lyrical piece?
BA: The message was just so deep. I was put in it after it was already made, and it was awesome being a part of the older girls’ dance. I loved working on that one.
CS: What teacher at Center Stage has made the biggest impact on you?
BA: I think it would have to be Sue. I’ve been with her since– Well, I’ve known her since I was three, I didn’t have her at first, but I knew her when she was working at Somerset. And she just knows me so well. She’s like a second mom to me. She’s great.
CS: Any advice for our younger dancers, who are coming up the ranks of the company?
BA: I would just say work hard, and always have fun. That’s my number one thing: I come here to have fun. I take it seriously and I work hard, but I like being here, and I like having fun.
CS: Do you watch “Dance Moms?”
BA: I try not to, but sometimes–
CS: And why is that? How do you feel about that?
BA: It’s embarrassing. I’m very laid back, and not into all that drama. I don’t like having to watch it, because you already see it at competition.
CS: Do you think it’s a negative thing?
BA: Definitely. People ask me if that’s what it’s like, and I just say, “No, that’s not my school at all. We’re about theatre, and we’re all family, and it’s just not like that.”
CS: Do you enjoy going to dance competitions?
BA: Yes, I love it. I love performing. It’s my favorite thing.
CS: Do you get nervous when you step on stage?
BA: Not when I’m on stage, but before, I definitely get nervous. I always have to go through the dance like three times before I go on.
CS: And then once you’re on, and the music is going–
BA: Everything’s great.
CS: Who do you think is the biggest influence in your life?
BA: I think my mom.
CS: Do you go to her for advice?
BA: Yes and no. Sometimes I don’t like to go to her, because I’m afraid of what she’ll think, but other times I just tell her everything. It just depends on the situation. But she is just such a generous person to everyone: my family and friends. She would do anything for almost anyone, and I just hope to be like that some day.
CS: Who do you think is your biggest fan?
BA: My sisters.
CS: You’ve been here since you were three. What has it meant to you?
BA: This is sad. I’ve learned almost everything here: how to build a friendship, the right and wrong things to do, not to make excuses for yourself, responsibility, what it’s all about. I think I’ll have these friends for a long time. That’s what I’m most excited about. I’ll be leaving, but I’ll still have my friends, and obviously I’m going to come back.
Brooke and her family have been with us for so many years, beginning in our former Somerset location, it seems like the end of an era! We wish her all the success in the world and look forward to hearing great things from Brooke!