Art imitates life for performer and choreographer Rachel Hunter.
Hunter plays the part of Broadway dancer Senga in Theatre Tallahassee’s upcoming two-person production of “Dancing Lessons,” which will run from Jan. 23 to Feb. 2. Hunter will act opposite Jeff Hoh who plays Ever, a young man with Asperger’s syndrome seeking help with an upcoming social event.
“I share a lot in common with my character,” says Hunter. “I am able to pull from a lot of personal experiences to tap into who she is.”
Just as Senga’s career-altering injury is central to the play, a foot injury set Hunter on her own path in the dance field. Hunter first followed in her older sister’s footsteps as a child, taking creative movement, modern and jazz classes at her local studio in Tennessee.
She never saw dance as her primary career, however, as she also enjoyed playing soccer. Her sights were set on becoming a mechanical engineer in the army when she suddenly was out of commission.
“I almost lost my right foot from the ankle down,” recalls Hunter. “I realized how much I missed dance from not being able to do it, and so after rehab I started up again.”
Hunter credits her early teachers, Hatty Gill and Vena Champion, for challenging her abilities while providing a safe, therapeutic space in the studio. They were ahead of the curve when it came to body positivity in dance which Hunter says allowed for vulnerability from all students while teaching them how to give and receive constructive criticism.
Humor is another aspect to Hunter’s style and how she chooses to filter information. She analyzes stand-up comedy specials for their text and experiments with applying similar devices in her choreography. Her evening-length work, “All The Much” was a genuine playground for these ideas. Inspired by her love of color-coding and organizing, the theater-dance work explored four characters, red, blue, yellow, and green, using a wide variety of music lyrics to propel their relationships forward.
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