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Check Out Julia Moore’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julia Moore. 

Hi Julia, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up in Macomb, Michigan with my parents and my brother. My mom enrolled me in dance at 3 years old at a local dance studio. From then on, I fell in love with the art and never wanted to stop. I began more extensive training in ballet when I was 12. I took a few Cecchetti ballet exams and while they went well, I realized that ballet was not my calling. While I was in between studios in high school, I found Cindy Raffel, who recently moved to Michigan and started 2nd Street Studio of Dance. She was one of my final mentors before college and introduced me to the wide world of dance beyond ballet. 

I always knew that I wanted to become a dance professional. I enrolled in Wayne State University in 2014 and got my BFA in dance in 2018. While attending the program, there were so many incredible performance opportunities I was afforded. I got to see what it was like being in the field, auditioning for works, and marketing yourself to the world. One of the most memorable projects I was part of was Nick Cave’s Heard Detroit in 2015. Nick Cave is a sculptor who creates these wearable art creations called soundsuits. He had done Heard NY at Grand Central Station in 2013, so when the dance department at Wayne State told us we would be doing a version of this project, we were excited. My classmates and I were chosen to wear and dance in a horse soundsuit. One person wore the head, and the other person wore the body. I was the body, and it was one of the hardest parts I’ve ever been cast in. The body person had to reach their arms forward to hold onto the head person’s hips while keeping a flat back. We walked around a large field on the Detroit Riverfront for about 25 minutes before detaching to do some additional choreography. My back was aching so bad, but the rush of dancing in a piece that was so highly acclaimed was incredible. While I probably wouldn’t volunteer to be the body again, I would love to have that day back. It was during college that I found a home in contemporary dance. Working alongside such professionals as Meg Paul, Biba Bell, Lisa LaMarre, and Molly Shanahan helped shape me into the performer I am today. 

Post college, I performed at a few shows around the country as a solo artist. Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak ran an intensive in Chicago during the summer of 2018. I attended that and performed at the end of the week. In November of 2018, I performed at RAW Natural Born Artists in Detroit at St. Andrew’s Hall. It was through RAW that I was able to fulfill one of my life-long dreams in Hollywood. The LA show was the first time I felt like I was truly an artist. I was surrounded by so many talented people and an electric crowd in one of the most creative cities in the world. 

I’m currently teaching, choreographing, performing, and social media managing at 2nd Street Studio of Dance. In 2021 Cindy started Diversiform Dance Project, for which I am the Assistant Artistic Director. We had our first showcase in June of this year. Since 2020, I’ve also been a member of Suttle Dance. It’s been incredible to work with both Sylvia Suttle-Bruce and Cindy. I’ve been very fortunate in my journey and I look forward to what’s to come. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Oh, absolutely not! Every artist has their bumps. I had some incredibly tough teachers as a child and it weighed on me. I’m still not sure I’ve worked through that, even now. It was hard to be told you would never be good enough for the life you’ve always wanted. I used that negativity as motivation. I pushed forward and it led me to where I am today. Some of the worst moments of my career have led to the most incredible opportunities. For example, in 2016, I failed to finish my math class credit at WSU, and as a dance major, there was a strict time frame in which you were expected to complete the credit. As a result of not finishing it in the time frame I was given, I was blacklisted from performing until I passed math. I was devastated – it wasn’t even like I had poor grades; those were just the rules. 

A few nights after I found out I wouldn’t be performing in the spring dance concert; I got an email from the Detroit Opera House. It said that the American Ballet Theater was coming to town to perform Sleeping Beauty and they were casting supernumerary characters to dance along with them. As rebellious as it was, no one said I couldn’t perform outside of school. I auditioned, ended up being cast as Scherazade and a Knitting Lady, and got to dance on stage with Misty Copeland. I met many of the principal dancers of ABT during the week leading up to the performance. I will never forget being in that extraordinary cast! I even got to be directed by Alexei Ratmanski. I had to pinch myself a few times because it was hard to believe that something awful led to something so great. Had I been able to perform at school, I wouldn’t have had time to rehearse with ABT. Sometimes you have to face those low lows to rise up into something far better. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
My movement style is reflective of my time in college but has evolved as I’m able to further explore who I am in my body. The way I choreograph is to use improvisation, or movement that I’ve come up with on the spot, to formulate my works. Whether I’m teaching students or creating something for the stage, I heavily lean on first instincts. My mother always told me to “go with my gut” as a kid. With dance, going with my gut has always felt correct. Like this is what I should be doing because I’m not thinking about it; I’m just letting my body create the art. 

The choreographic process has always been the most interesting part of my career. It’s a fun puzzle to figure out what movements to set and where to move people around in space. The first thing I do is dream about the movement. That sounds strange, but I will either daydream and see moves in my head, or I will be sleeping and dreaming about what I should do next in my piece. Then, I will write down what those things are as I “see” them, so I don’t forget. I’ve always been able to see movement in my mind, so much so that I named my recent Diversiform piece This Could Only Happen In My Mind. It seemed fitting to me since the piece was almost entirely created based on dreams and/or thoughts of movement. The fun part is then getting to bring these transcripts to life by setting the movements on the dancers. 

Lately, I’ve been exploring how I can use mediation as movement. In the practice of meditation, you are typically still. However, I want to further explore how you can create the same amount of clarity in your mind while still moving about. It’s a work in progress, and it’s exciting! 

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
I’m willing to keep going after something I want. I don’t give up until I get a result. Whether it’s the company auditions, performance opportunities, or getting jobs as a movement professional, living the life of an artist comes with a lot of disappointment and rejection. I’d say I’ve gotten really good at moving through the hard times to the next big thing. If you let that obstacle hang over your head, you will never grow as an artist and a person. I’ve learned to make like Elsa and let it go. Don’t dwell – just learn and move forward. I think that’s the thing that makes me successful in this industry. 

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Image Credits

Joe Polimeni
Focal Life Photography
BMBO Creations
John Sobczak
Lady Red Photos

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