Carlene has been dancing since before she could walk. At four years old she slipped on her first pink tutu and pair of white tights and never looked back. The dance studio quickly became her home and she grew up training and competing in a variety of disciplines including jazz, tap, ballet, contemporary, hip hop and musical theatre.
As a teenager, Carlene was accepted into the Sports Excellence Program at an Alberta based high school, which gave her the opportunity to focus more extensively on her dance training and the freedom travel across Canada and the United States to work with established teachers and choreographers.
In 2005 Carlene accepted her first teaching position and fell in love with her own role as an instructor and choreographer. She has since led both recreational and competitive dance programs in jazz, ballet, contemporary, hip hop and theatre. Now based in Victoria BC, she continues to expand her dance education and instructor certification while teaching students of all ages from beginner to advanced.
Carlene started dancing with Broken Rhythms in 2014 and hasn’t missed a show since. Her first invitation to the company was for one of Intrepid Theatre’s annual Theatre Under the Gun events, and she knew from the moment that she stepped into the studio that big things were coming her way. Now a senior full-time company member, Carlene has been involved in countless unique productions including two annual LashBash Fundraisers, the 2016 Pretty Good Not Bad Festival, the T.B.A Choreographic Showcase, multiple collaborative shows with workingclasstheatre and Convergence Ballet Company, touring with Broken Rhythms in 2015 and many other local projects. Broken Rhythms has become an invaluable part of Carlene’s life, and she still finds herself in awe of the incredible training, touring and performance opportunities she continues to receive with the company.
In her words…
What’s your favourite piece in Universal Horrors?
Tough call. I really like Frankenstein because it has very powerful character work and the style of the piece is different from what we’ve done before. Creature of the Black Lagoon is also a lot of fun to perform and the ‘music’ (I use that term loosely, in a good way) is very interesting, unpredictable and you’d swear it was made just for this piece.
Why should people come to see Universal Horrors?
This show is something that has been brewing for a few years now, and Dyana has put so much thought and creativity into every meticulous detail which you’ll see in not only the choreography, but also in the music choices, the costumes and even aesthetics of the venue itself. This production is definitely not just for your typical “dance crowd”; the combination of striking multimedia projections, lighting design and character driven choreography makes for a very cool contemporary twist on iconic stories that everyone can relate to. Oh, and there will be popcorn.
What’s your favourite snack to bring to rehearsal?
Do you have any favourite moments from a Broken Rhythms event or rehearsal?
A couple of years ago the company toured to Edmonton, and we made a road trip out of it. At about hour 15 we were on the home stretch, and Dyana and Chelsea were on duty to keep me awake at the wheel while Paige rested up in the back seat. We started playing a game where a song would come on the radio, and you had to keep singing along no matter what—–if you didn’t know the words, you just had to make them up. We got through a few pop songs, a disney tune and some 90s faves when a hardcore Eminem song came on. Now, I don’t know the words to Eminem at the best of times, but by the second verse of the song I was out of the game, laughing so hard I was in tears (not uncommon with this crew) as Chelsea and Dy fought to keep up. Some of the “words” that were coming out of their mouths were so beyond anything I could re-enact and they were so committed, I almost had to pull over. Let’s just say I learned a lot about those two that day…
What are 3 things that are always in your dance bag?
1. Foam roller or ball
2. Tiger Balm
3. A small buffet
If you had to give yourself a stage name, what would it be?
Do you have any pre-performance rituals to help you to get ready for the stage?
I definitely like to spend at least half an hour by myself before a show, bundled up in the dark, laying star-fished on the floor. I stop reviewing choreography 24 hours before a show and switch my mind over to performance mode. I go through each piece in my mind and create a very simple story to bring with me on the stage and that’s what I think about before going on. Sometimes that story stays the same for the whole run, sometimes it changes night to night, but it’s really there to give me something to hang on to—-a purpose behind my movements—-and that way when I make a mistake (which believe me, I will), my mistake is just part of the story too and I can move through it without getting lost or breaking character. Right before we go on, all of the dancers get in a circle and breathe together, which really helps us connect with each other and find our flow.
For this particular show, I’ve studied these movies inside and out, and put together a kind of ‘mini-reel’ of clips of the movie moments that resonate with me for each piece. I’ve saved them to my phone and plan to watch these clips each night before the show to keep these moments fresh in my mind and get in the zone.