Have you ever wondered what it would be like packing up your life and moving overseas to dance?
This week DanceLife Australia caught up with Sheridan Mouawad who has danced all over the world! She has had contracts with Universal Studios Singapore, both the West End and the Europe touring productions of “West Side Story” and is currently contracted with Disney playing the role of Jasmine in “Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular” at Disneyland’s California Adventure Park. Here we chat with Sheridan about what it is like to be living and dancing abroad as well as the importance of training to get to where you want to be.
– How did you get into dancing in the first place and what was your training growing up?
I started dancing at the age of 3yrs. My mum put me in a ballet class while my brothers went to soccer. Most of my Jazz training came from Lisa Jane Holt, Ballet training from Hillary Kaplan and Archibald McKenzie at Alegria Dance Studios, and Musical Theatre training from Thern Reynolds. I completed my studies in Dance and Musical Theatre at AMDA ‘The American Musical and Dramatic Academy’ in New York City. I have been trained in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop, Lyrical, Contemporary and Music Theatre. I decided to aim for a career as a performer in Grade 7 when I had to choose my class electives, which determined what field of expertise you wanted to study in, for a career choice out of high school, and that’s when I knew I was all in or all out! So I moved to AIPAH (now known as APGS) performing arts school to pursue my passion in performing arts and haven’t stopped yet!
– What was your first professional contract?
My first professional contract was Lead ‘Mummy’ in the ‘Monster Rock Show’, at Universal Studios in Singapore in 2010. The Contract was for 13 months.
– What contracts have you done since then?
I graduated early from collage in NYC for booking ‘West Side Story’ the musical touring Europe for 6 months as one of the Shark Girls called ‘Estella’, and a sit down on the West End in London for 2 months!
After that I was offered Lead as Jasmine in ‘Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular’ at Disneyland’s California Adventure in California!
– So all of your contracts have been overseas? How have you coped with being away from your family and friends in Australia?
Yes – since I was 18, I moved away from home to pursue my career as a performer branching out away from Australia. Eventually I want to come back, but right now I’m not finished with the world yet!
I’ve coped great! Leaving family is always hard, especially when you see them in spats of 6 months at a time. But I guess you will know in yourself if you are the kind of person that is ok to settle or needs to open their wings and broaden their horizons. And when you feel that way, you will realise that there is something greater destined for you and home will always be there to welcome you with open arms.
– You’ve mentioned that you have done professional Musical Theatre. Can you talk about why you think it’s so important to be a “triple threat” in Musical Theatre these days?
It is EXTREMELY important! Our world is so small with so many performers trying to get their break! Someone once told me, and the words still stay with me:
“People want the BEST results with the LEAST amount of work. YOU don’t want to be one of those people”
And it’s very true!
Hard work is always rewarded, because you should always be doing what you do for yourself. The expectation on us performers are getting higher and higher. So being able to sing as well as act and dance at such a high calibre, puts you in a small percentage bracket of performers that will get the job over someone who only dances or sings etc. But now, it’s still not good enough to only sing, dance and act, you need to be eclectic in all those fields as well, example dance, you need to be able to do all styles, tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical, hip hop etc. Same goes with singing, pop, theatre, classical etc.
So being a ‘Triple Threat’ is very important if you want to constantly be working in this industry!
– You must be very used to the audition process now, do you have any rituals going into auditions? What goes through your mind before and whilst you’re there?
Well, I was fortunate enough to assist the Universal Studios audition up here in LA. I was able to experience what goes on, on the other side of an audition and watching from the panel. This helped me have a completely different perspective on auditioning, more calm and honest performances. Yes, I do have rituals before I go into an audition. I warm up, whether it be singing or dancing, and when I’m about to walk in I pray and I let everything go. Going through my head at the audition would be, “I am exactly what they are looking for”, over and over and over again. Positive thoughts are the key! I understand in this industry we face rejection everyday, DON’T LET THAT DETERMINE YOUR TALENT! Have faith in yourself.
– What is next for you once you finish your current contract as Jasmine in “Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular”? Any ideas of where you would like to do in the near future?
Yes! I have auditioned for a couple of things over here that sound promising which are extremely exciting! But eventually, I want to go back to NYC and chase my dream, which is to be in a Broadway show!
– And finally, what advice can you give to young dancers regarding the path they should take if they want a career in dance?
To have a career in dance, you need to be determined and constantly conditioning yourself! Focus on your foundations, Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Technique. Never stop training! Also, you need to take as many stylised classes as you can, Hip Hop, Contemporary, Lyrical etc. so you can be as versatile as possible! Like I said before, the more versatile you are the more work you will come across. Finally you need to love what you do, because that’s the ‘X’ factor! No one can ever teach you passion.