PATERSON, NJ - To use entertainment industry parlance Damani Van Rensalier is a triple threat. The talented 22-year-old Paterson native can dance, sing, and act, and now, just months out of college, she is putting that talent to work on Broadway.
On Friday, Van Rensalier found out that she had been hired to work as a “vacation swing” on the hit musical Hadestown, currently running at the famed Walter Kerr Theatre. With previous runs in London and Edmonton, Canada, the award winning musical is based on the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, where Orpheus goes to the underworld to rescue his fiancée Eurydice.
WIth only a couple of weeks to learn her initial part, Van Rensalier, a 2015 graduate of PCTI, will prepare to fill in should the need arise as one of the show’s characters known simply as “Worker 2.” As the weeks go on, she added, she’ll become fluent in other roles, acting as a utility player of sorts and getting called to the stage when a regular cast member not able to perform.
While it’s not a starring role, yet, Van Rensalier still considers it a great opportunity and “another chance to network, to gain knowledge.” It will also be an opportunity to learn to “not be afraid” and to see what else she can do.
Speaking to TAPinto Paterson on a rare day off from rehearsals, Van Resalier said she considers herself “lucky” to have been raised, and continue to be, a member of First Zion AME Church, or what she said is “the greatest support system, a village that raised me.” She also credits her supportive family whom combined gave her the “backbone, tools, and wisdom,” to succeed.
“Wherever I go I will always have that.”
Having just graduated from Rutgers University earlier this year with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Dance Van Rensalier has had the chance to take to the stage in New York City before, both times at the Joyce Theatre. The first time, she said, as part of a special night for Rutgers performers, and later, as a senior, by dancing alongside a professional dance company.
Asked if she had advice for other aspiring performers trying to make their way in their chosen profession Van Rensalier said that everyone’s “path is unique,” urging others to refrain from comparing their journeys to other’s.
“It’s okay to fail,” Van Rensalier said, sounding the part of a wise veteran. “We don’t always get the best jobs, we live hard lives for the art we relate for and stand for.”
Despite the difficulty, pressure, and hard work, when it comes to doing the job well, she concluded, “if you love it you’ll show up for the work, no matter what.”
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