This month we sat down with Larissa Goldberg, a member of our Senior Cats Dance Company and one of the stars of our upcoming production of the Nutcracker at Middlesex County College on December 16th.
CS: So I’m here with Larissa Goldberg, who is going to be our Student of the Month for December. And you’re a Senior?
CS: Yea! Congratulations. How old were you when you started dancing?
Larissa: I was four.
CS: And you started here?
Larissa: I did. I started in Marlboro.
CS: In Tap/Jazz?
Larissa: Yes. Tap, Jazz and Ballet. With Karen.
CS: And, I know you were four, but was it something your mom wanted for you, or…
Larissa: No, I definitely wanted it. She wanted me in gymnastics, but I stuck with dance.
CS: At four you already knew what you wanted.
Larissa: I did.
CS: And at what point did it become an identity?
Larissa: I actually was just reading some notebooks that I had in, like, First Grade, and in all of them, I wrote “I love dance! Ballet is my favorite.” And all these different things. It started getting more intense when I was six or seven and started getting into Kittens.
CS: Wow, that’s really early. So, you’re a senior. Where are you going? What are you doing about college?
Larissa: I’ve been auditioning for so many colleges. I actually just got back from Indiana this morning, I auditioned for their big ballet program. So, I’m definitely looking forward to dancing in college. I’ve been accepted to a few already with scholarships.
Larissa: I’ve been accepted to Pointe Park with a scholarship, I’ve been accepted to Muhlenberg dance program, and UMass. I haven’t heard back from Indiana, and that’s my top choice.
CS: Well, you were just there this morning. So, they didn’t call you to accept you on your way home—
Larissa: No, I wish. I have to wait until April.
CS: Oh, wow! That’s long!
Larissa: Yeah, it is.
CS: Well, that’s really painful. Well, I guess it prepares you, because the whole process of being a performer and auditioning is exasperating and nerve-wracking. So, is it something you can explain? What dance means to you?
Larissa: It means everything to me. I just explain it as being my passion. I’ve been doing it for so many years now. Everything I’m feeling I can present in my dance. If it’s a bad day, I just try to dance even better, if it’s a good day, I just let my emotions show.
CS: So, it’s about emotions, expressing your feelings that pushes your buttons?
Larissa: Yes, definitely.
CS: I do think that’s amazing that four and five and six, that somehow you felt that. And what has it cost you? What have you given up?
Larissa: I’ve given up a lot. I used to play soccer, for many years. I had to quit that for dance, but I was fine with that. School has been hard, because I wake up at six in the morning, go straight to school, then go straight to dance, dance until ten o’clock at night. I live an hour away, and I always have homework at night. So, it’s definitely a big time consumer, but I think I’ve managed it all pretty well. School’s tough, but I get through it, and I get good grades.
CS: Do you have dance friends and non-dance friends?
Larissa: I do. My school friends are just a whole separate part of my life.
CS: But there are people there that you’re really close with?
Larissa: Yeah, there are.
CS: And your family is very supportive?
Larissa: Yes, they’re very supportive. Probably my biggest supporters. They come to all my shows. We have “The Nutcracker” coming up, and they’ve bought 18 tickets, so my family will be the theatre.
CS: So, speaking of starting early, now you’re going to be Sugar Plum in “The Nutcracker,” at what point in your dance training did that become your goal?
Larissa: From the start. I remember going to my first show when I was only like 6-years-old and watching, and I just remember seeing everyone and all the leads coming out on the stage, and I just wanted to be that. I wasn’t so into ballet when I was 10 or so, and then The Nutcracker came up the next year and I just remember seeing everyone. I was a soldier, of course the jazz part because that’s what I was into then, and I remember seeing Clara come on and I just wanted to do that.
CS: So, what were your steps? So you were never a Mouse.
Larissa: No, I started as a soldier and I did that for two years. When everyone was Clara and Messengers and stuff like that, I was a soldier, and then I went to Polichinelles. And then after that, I went straight to Dew Drop, which was awesome. And then I got Sugar Plum, which was amazing. I’m just so excited about that.
CS: So, what else? What’s your favorite movie?
Larissa: “Elf.” Definitely “Elf.” I love Will Farrell.
CS: Do you love Christmas?
Larissa: Yes, I love Christmas. It’s my favorite time of year.
CS: So you get your Nutcracker year, and Christmas at the same time. You must be on cloud nine.
Larissa: Yes, I am.
CS: So, you have a little sister, who is much younger.
Larissa: Yes, she’s four. And I have five older brothers. They’re ten years older than me, so there’s a big gap between all of the siblings.
CS: So you were the baby for a long time.
Larissa: I was until my sister came along.
CS: Projecting forward, do you see a life in ballet, specifically, or dance more generally.
Larissa: I do. My dream is to be in a ballet company, so I’m definitely going for that. I’m going to be auditioning a lot during college for everything. Yeah, I would love to be in some sort of company, even contemporary, or jazz. I’ve never really seen myself on Broadway. I really want to be in a company.
CS: What dance companies have you seen perform, that you love?
Larissa: So many. ABT (American Ballet Theatre), SAB (School of American Ballet), Joffrey, Bolshoi, Alvin Ailey. I’ve seen ABT multiple times in different shows, and I just dream of myself being there.
Our students have many different goals in the arts. Ballet companies, the Broadway stage, Modern, Contemporary, Tap companies, Choreography, Teaching. It is a privilege to help them on their unique journeys. We are very proud of Larissa and invite you to come and see her perform the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in our production of the Nutcracker at Middlesex County College on December 16th.