Heart to Heart | Anna Stone, our inspiring and talented Resident Artist
Getting to know Anna Stone...
There are no words to capture the magnetic energy our lovely Anna Stone exudes. Her new presence in our Motivated Community as both our Resident Artist and Operations Manager is immeasurable and invaluable. Many of you have already joined Anna on the dance floor, and many of you soon will. This is a great way to get to know the woman we love so dearly...
What is your story with the Motivated Mover community?
So, when I first moved to the city, Elise and I were roommates. I remember the night she came home and said “Anna, I’m starting a company.” And she proceeded to tell me about the idea that was born that evening and has now blossomed into Motivated Movers. Over the next year I watched that dream come to life, and it was such a beautiful thing to witness. Maybe 2 years later, I hit a point in my life in New York, where I realized I was not getting the fulfillment I needed from the audition grind, something in my life needed to change. I started doing a lot of soul searching and knew that I needed to add something to my life that was going to make a difference, something that allowed me to make a positive impact. I sat down to have coffee with Elise and told her about this journey I was on and how I wasn’t sure where it was going to lead, but I was excited to find out. Turns out, Motivated Movers was looking to add someone to their team who had a passion like mine. Worlds collided and a beautiful collaboration was born. It has been an incredible journey so far and I am so excited to continue working on something so powerful.
When were you first drawn to the artistic community?
Ever since I was little. I grew up inside of an artistic community; it’s part of who I am. I can’t imagine a life outside of that community. It’s a beautiful and special place, filled with talent, passion, collaboration and so much love.
Can you elaborate specifically on what value the artistic community brings to your life?
That artistic community is filled with people who have so much life inside of them. I have never met more passionate people, and to me, that is the most exciting quality in a person and it inspires me everyday. I feel so incredibly lucky to be a part of something that brings love and light into our world.
Identify a personal challenge you face being a member of the community.
Specifically, being a part of the New York City artistic community, you are surrounded by the most talented people in the world. I have to remind myself everyday that I belong amongst these people. It can be easy to forget that your talent and your opinion matters among so many great and talented people, but it does. I try to shift my mindset and use the greatness around me as inspiration and fuel to push me forward, instead of allowing it to cripple me.
What are you up to these days? (Let us know your current artistic endeavors and/or what you have recently finished.)
I am currently on the International tour of Beauty and the Beast. It has been a beautiful and challenging experience that has taught me so much.
Name one powerful moment you felt connected to the arts community in the last few months.
The world is in a dark place right now, and our tour has been and is heading to some of the places that are directly affected by what is happening right now. For instance, our last city was Beirut, Lebanon; we flew back to America 2 days before the bombing happened there. This hit very close to home, not only were we just there, but we lived and worked with the beautiful people of this country. I hit a moment where I was so scared and infuriated by these actions, but then I took a step back and thought about what I was doing. I have the opportunity to travel to parts of the world that are hurting so much right now and spread joy to the people that live there. I get to bring happiness to their lives, even if only for a moment. I may not be creating giant waves to solve the world’s problems, but I’m bringing a small gift to the people of the world and that is something so beautiful. I am so lucky to be a part of it. There will always be fear in our lives, but you cannot allow it to stop you from living.
Name one thing you are grateful for.
So many things. But right now, I am especially grateful for the passion I have for dance and the arts, it keeps me moving forward everyday. Even as life starts to get hectic and I don’t have a clear path, I always have that, which keeps me grounded and moving forward.
(Photo Credit: James Jin, Dancers of New York)
How is movement incorporated in your every day life?
Dance and movement is the thing that always keeps my soul happy, so I make sure it’s present in my life everyday. Whether it’s performing at night, taking a dance class, dancing at an audition, or tapping underneath myself while I’m waiting in line at Trader Joes, it’s always in there somehow.
Do you have any unique stories about YOU and dance?
There was one time when I was back home in Cincinnati, and I had a doctor’s appointment. There was an elderly nurse who took me back to my room and she began asking me about what I was studying in school. When she found out that I was a dancer, she was so taken aback and so excited. She told me this beautiful story about her daughter who met her husband through dance classes. Then she turned to me and told me that I can never give up on my dreams, that when I’m dancing on stage, there is always someone sitting in the audience who is dancing along with me in their heart because they physically cannot. She reminded me how much joy dancing brings to people. The moments when this gets really hard, I remind myself of that story and remember why I do this.
What is your favorite dance audition outfit?
I have this pair of black jazz pants and this bright purple top that I absolutely love. It isn’t right for everything, but I feel like myself when I’m wearing it, and that’s so important when you’re in the audition room.
What music pumps you up before an audition?
It varies a lot, but right now, definitely the Hamilton soundtrack. I can’t get enough.
Have any great audition stories?
One of my absolute favorite auditions was when I auditioned for a production of ‘A Chorus Line,’ and Baayork Lee, the original Connie, ran the audition. She brought the story of A Chorus Line into that room. She gave the most breathtaking speech about giving everything you have and leaving it all on the dance floor. She turned something that can be so stressful and terrible at times, into one of the most beautiful and inspiring moments. It gives me chills just thinking about it.
What inspires you?
I am someone who is heavily influenced by words. I love inspirational quotes and motivational books. I will sit on Pinterest and scroll through pages of inspirational quotes. They help remind me that everyone has their own fears and their own hurdles, what matters is how you power through them. Same with books, for instance, right now I am in the middle of “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Hearing her stories, finding the ways they relate to me and then seeing her success, makes me feel like I have the power to do it too. If you consider yourself a creative person and you haven’t picked that book up yet, do yourself a favor and go read it. She uses a term that I absolutely adore-- “Stubborn gladness.” That comes from a quote by Jack Gilbert that she uses in the book, “We must risk delight. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.” Then she asks, “ Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?” There is something about words such as these that have the power to light a fire within me and keep me fighting for my gladness.
Who has had substantial influence on you as an artist?
My teachers. I believe that everyone you meet has the power to teach you something. For me, dance is the most powerful art form in my life, so my dance teachers have had incredible influence on me, more than I will ever be able to explain. Especially the ones from when I was growing up, they helped me figure out who I was as a person, which in turn helped me discover who I was as an artist. There is no greater gift than that, and for that I am forever grateful.
Where do you go for rejuvenation?
Class. That’s a big one for me. If I feel stuck, 9 times out of 10, it’s been awhile since I’ve taken a dance class. Dance is the thing the fuels my soul, it’s my therapy. So, if I go and take an amazing class just for me, that’s a sure fire way to rejuvenate my spirit.
How would you describe your own personal life balance?
This has been a big one that I’ve been working to figure out since I moved to New York. I am someone that throws herself into work completely. I can very easily get caught up in the world of auditioning, taking class and working on making connections. I realized very quickly that that does not bring me all of the satisfaction I want out of life. Adding Motivated Movers to my life has added to my balance. It fills the part of me that always wants to be working on something greater than myself. I also make time for my people. We’re all busy and all working to create the life we desire, but in the end, I believe that the connections we make with people on a day to day basis is what makes everything worth it. This can be the easiest one to take for granted and push to the side, but for me, it’s the key to my balance.
For you, what knocks you off balance in life?
If I don’t feel like I’m working towards something. I am someone who always wants to be growing, learning and pushing myself. If I feel stagnant, everything feels out of whack and I have a hard time making everything else in my life flow.
Could you describe your ideal picture of a balanced career?
Ideally, I would love to be working consistently in New York so I can create a stable life here. I would love to be performing at night while using my days to take class and continue training, as well as continue teaching. Having a stable performing career here would also give me a greater ability to consistently see my loved ones.
Do you feel you have reached balance?
Some days yes, some days no. I love the life that I have created here in the city, but I’m always evaluating and working to create a greater balance.
(Photo Credit: James Jin, Dancers of New York)
What is your personal greatest success?
Living in New York City and supporting myself doing the thing I’ve dreamt of doing ever since I was a little girl. Of course, there will always be more that I want, but the fact that I’m here and doing it, is a huge success in it of itself.
What is your personal definition of success?
Success is about understanding why you do the work that you do and filling up every moment of your work with value. This is going to mean something different to everyone, whether it is performing pieces of art that have a message you believe in, creating a blog that brings joy to a community, or creating a program that gives a voice to someone who may not have had one otherwise, but whatever that step is, it is the act of doing that is why you live the life you live. I believe that if you wake up every day excited about what you are doing, and are making the world a better place along the way, you have found success. I believe that that is the secret, success isn’t a goal it is a movement towards a life filled with joy and value.
To what degree does success factor in to your personal and artistic fulfillment?
Because I have chosen to create a career within the field that brings me personal and artistic fulfillment, it factors in a great deal. While I wish that passion and fulfillment were enough to pay my bills and keep food on my table, I have to find a way to be successful and fulfilled simultaneously. It can be a challenge, but man is it worth it.
Can you identify a time in your life where you faced significant rejection?
Absolutely. A little over a year ago I was in final callbacks for the national/international tour of Beauty and the Beast. I had been in for them multiple times and I was feeling very confidently about how the callbacks were going. I had myself convinced that this tour was going to happen. I put everything into it and was sure that this would be my life for the next year. The callbacks ended, weeks passed, I received text messages from friends saying they booked it, but I never got a call. I was devastated.
How did you continue on?
It took me awhile. I was in a dark place for a long time. I questioned if I even wanted to perform as a career anymore. However, over a period of time, I learned the very valuable lesson that you cannot get that attached to a job. There are no such things as sure things in this industry, and you have to be ok with that. Rejection is part of it, you need to have balance in your life so that you can pick up and still be ok even if all you’ve heard is ‘no’ for the last 6 months.
What were influential factors in your life during that time?
My friends and family. I leaned on my loved ones heavily during that time. This was a key moment of re-establishing how important they are in my life balance.
Has it shaped you artistically?
Oh, for sure. Not only did the audition process require me to make sure all of my skills were on point, but in the end, it ignited a new level of fight within me. I became determined to find success in this world. The funny thing, the next year I went back in for Beauty and the Beast, booked it, and I’m now touring the world with this beautiful show. It’s funny how life has a way of working itself out.
(Anna is currently Ensemble in Beauty and the Beast Int'l Tour)
Have your successes or failures shaped you more as an artist and human?
Failures. We need both light and dark in our life, and both experiences shape how you continue to define yourself. However, I read this amazing article recently by Nic Haralambous, which put it beautifully, “ If you don’t learn something every time you fail then all you’ve done is failed. If you learn something, then you’ve grown. Every time you grow and learn and fail, you get better at figuring out how the hell to succeed.” I love that; you need failure to learn and to light a fire within you to keep you going.
We love quotes. Introduce us to one?
“Don’t downgrade your dream just to fit your reality. Upgrade your conviction to match your destiny.”
What is one piece of advice that has always stuck with you?
If you put your mind to something and you work really hard, you can achieve it.
If you could share anything with the Motivated Mover community, what would you say?
Never stop fighting for the life you want. There is no one right way to get where you want to go, but if you listen to your heart and pair that with a whole lot of hard work, you will get wherever it is you’re going.
Anna Stone, Operations Manager/Resident Artist
Anna Stone is a graduate of Oklahoma City University. In her four years at OCU she completed pedagogy training in Ballet, Tap and Jazz, and obtained a B.P.A in dance performance. As a performer, Anna has been seen internationally with Dublin Spirit Productions in shows such as, “Le Grand Cirque,” “Dancing Queen,” and “Christmas on Ice.” She was part of the original cast of “Scrooge No More,” directed and choreographed by Broadway choreographer, Lisa Shriver. She was a guest artist for the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, and most recently she can be found touring internationally with the cast of “Beauty and the Beast.” As an educator and ASTEP fellow, Anna believes in the power of movement to teach one how to truly live in the space they inhabit, allowing them to grow to their highest potential. Anna is a true believer in the power of positivity to change the world and knows that each of our great journeys through life begins with a dream, long before we take our first steps. She invites each and every one of you to come share your dreams with her and hopes to help you take those wondrous steps toward greatness.