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Top 10 Artists Who Inspire Me: Part 2

Allison Schwartz continues to describe the men and women who have helped her along her artistic journey.

Me and James Kinney at a Broadway Dreams Foundation Faculty Party
I know you have all been eagerly awaiting the final 5 people after Part 1 last week. I love and respect all of these artists so dearly, and I hope that these two posts will inspire you to be…well…inspired.

6.James Kinney- James Kinney's talents far exceed solely an incredible dancer and choreographer. I started working with James four years ago at a Broadway Dreams Foundation Summer Intensive, and we instantly formed a beautiful relationship. James and I have shared triumphs and heartaches, and in some of my toughest downfalls, he has been the sole reason I continued my training, always finding the light in my darkest of places. Under James' direction, I now have assisting, partnering, and teaching training, and he never forgets to tell me how appreciated I am.

Every movement James sets in his pieces has a very specific emotional or physical intention, and he does an incredible job of conveying that message to his dancers and to the audience. James never settles for mediocre—he has a gift for seeking artists' potentials and guiding them to brilliance. Working with James has transformed art into therapy, and his joy makes me love sharing my art with others.

7. Craig D'Amico- If you work with Craig, or even watch him work for two minutes, you know he is something special. Craig's students tap into the raw, organic place in their souls where honest acting comes from. If you flub through text, Craig does not let the scene progress. And then, with Craig's guidance, like magic, the actor finds the personal connection that makes honest acting so addicting and powerful to witness.

Craig recently moved from New York City to Atlanta, so through Broadway Dreams and individual sessions, I worked with Craig a lot this summer. I am so baffled by the work Craig led me to uncover, and it was terrifying, yet addictive, that I was able to access such an open, vulnerable place. However, now that I have experienced a deep connection to the text, I will never be able to skim the surface of my work again.

8. Katherine Levy- In grade school, Katherine and I were those crazy, pre-pubescent spazzes running around the dance studio like maniacs. Now, she lives in Los Angeles as a professional dancer, booking TV shows and back-up gigs. Katherine's dance talent is undeniable, and her beauty and personality make her unforgettable. However, as much as Katherine has going for her, this industry cannot always work in her favor. And never once has Katherine lost faith or given up, even when she does not book a job.

Katherine simply loves the joy dance brings. She has given up her life in Atlanta, and a normal college life in general, to follow her dreams. I am so inspired by Katherine's dedication to dance, and I am so excited her sacrifices are finally paying off.

9. Meg Gillentine- I'm a YouTube fanatic and spend hours mindlessly clicking on different video clips. I'm also a Fosse fanatic (who isn't though), and I spend hours imitating the YouTube clips of the effortlessly perfect Fosse cast. So, when I heard I was going to be working with Meg Gillentine (the "Steam Heat" girl and a "Big Spender" girl) this summer, I obnoxiously freaked out for a very long time.

Working with Meg exceeded all of my already high expectations. She commands your attention when she enters a room, and her bubbly yet down-to-earth personality makes her so personable and easy to talk to. She shared many hilarious Broadway stories with me, and when playtime was over, I performed alongside her. Awestricken by Meg's talents as a teacher, performer, and her balance of family and work, I kind of want to be just like her when I grow up.

10.Liza Gennaro- Liza is the newest and most unbelievable addition to Indiana University's Theatre Department faculty. Liza's experience as a dancer, choreographer, and director makes her the most knowledgeable resource I have ever met. In class, Liza takes my classmates and me through the decades of dance evolution, educating us on each style and the history behind each movement.

Since Liza's father worked alongside Jerome Robbins to create some of the greatest choreography of all time in West Side Story, we get first hand insight into the journey of this timeless choreography. And, from the latest fashion trends to video clips, Liza presents new challenges to be well-rounded, well-educated people. And if you are not willing to give 150% of yourself to her classes, then you might as well not come. But why would I waste my time not bringing my potential every class—especially when I am learning so much every day? You're right—I wouldn't.

So there it is, TMU peeps, my Top 10. Writing this list made me realize how amazing it is that each individual had such a unique and profound effect on my life. Even though only 10 amazing people comprise this, a lot of things inspire me—I actually think inspiration can be found in most anything… it all depends on how you look at life.

Until next week,



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