Why you should care

Because sometimes it’s OK to talk to strangers.

In this occasional series, OZY takes to streets and neighborhoods across the globe to ask a simple question: “How was your day?”

Lindsay Janisse
New York City

Right now I’m resting, in between an audition for a new show and a call for another show. This is my third call for the audition.

You could have a month of “noes” all year. Some people never hear “yes.” You work so hard, taking ballet and jazz classes, yoga and Pilates. You run daily and take vocal lessons … and then you’re still going to get told “no” many more times than “yes.” These shows are so specific about your hair color, your look, your ethnicity. You could have the best audition of your life — and just not look the part.

When I started doing Wicked in New York, I didn’t know anyone here. For a while I was the swing offstage, which means I was always in the building, and whenever someone called out sick, I’d go on for them. I was also a dance captain, so I have to know every part in the show — the males and the females. It’s not an official position, but that’s kept me employed. At the moment, I’ll finish a Wicked contract this Sunday filling in for a medical leave.

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Lindsay Janisse loves to dance. Good thing, because it’s a hell of a lot of work.

Source Courtesy of Lindsay Janisse

Originally I’m from the Detroit area. My parents put me in dance when I was 3; my older sister had been dancing for a few years. Once I turned 14, I started to excel at it. I got feedback outside of Detroit that I was good enough to pursue dance professionally. I fell in love with it.

I did really well in school and college, which is what you’re quote, unquote supposed to do, so my parents were really hesitant about my choice at age 18 to move across the country and devote my life to dance. Once I got Wicked in 2007 in L.A. and had a steady paycheck and health insurance, they felt much more comfortable.

It would surprise people how much you have to give up.

I am a pescatarian and try to eat as healthy as possible. Lots of veggies and green juices. I try to just be superconscious of what I’m putting in my body, and only eating when I’m hungry. And of course, lots of water. But let’s be real: I love wine, chocolate, great coffee and have an incredibly large sweet tooth.

But it would surprise people how much you have to give up. Dancers perform eight shows a week with one day off and a couple of personal days a year. I have to be there every holiday. I miss every birthday. I spent 10 days with my family for my brother’s wedding, and that’s the longest since I’d moved away from home in 2001. Friends have gotten injured, and it’s hard to come back from that. I’m thankfully knocking on wood I have not been injured. The only thing I’ve really known is I love dance.

I could go back and get a degree in something, and if and when the time comes to move on, I think there are plenty of options.


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OZYTrue Story

Good stories from around the globe. Essays and immersion, into the harrowing, the sweet, the surprising -- the human.