What do you get when you combine style, technique, sensuality and authenticity? You get dancer, choreographer, artist Tracy Phillips. I’ve enjoyed dancing with this beauty over the years and always appreciate the ease, freedom and strength that she brings to her unique movement and voice. A true feminine softness with the power of a million suns, she seduces with truth.
And that special movement quality and story telling translates to her work as a choreographer. Fresh, fun, highly stylized, chic, wild yet meticulous, the dance is sexy and strong. She and her choreographing partner, Dominic Carbone, have created some of those most provocative dances around. Called “fearless” by the LA Times, their work is respected and honored in the entertainment industry and our community.
In addition to world tours, music videos, choreographing on So You Think You Can Dance and for feature films, Tracy’s passion project is Harlow Gold, a high-energy, rock and roll girlie show in Long Beach and Downtown Los Angeles. In-your-face and intimate, it features six dancers who take over every inch of the venue to inspire and excite.
So delighted that Tracy joined me for my Choreographer Interview Series. Enjoy!!
TNH: What drew you to being a dancer, and eventually a choreographer?
TP: I started dancing when I was three and I immediately knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Contrarily, choreography was not planned at all. I choreographed a number for a“choreographers carnival” because a Tom Waits song called “Pasties & a G-string” inspired me. It just so happened, there was a successful choreographer in attendance who wanted to meet me after the show. She said, “I want to work with you”. I started assisting her on jobs and that was, essentially, the catalyst for my choreography career.
TNH: What does the craft of dance and making dances mean to you?
TP: Dance and creating dance is my language… it’s my way to express myself. It’s a feeling, an expression, a passion, a friend, a love and an identity! It’s also a truth… if you asked me to dance the answers to these questions you would get much more raw and honest responses!
TNH: Who are some of your creative influences?
TP: I idolize Bob Fosse… for me, he is a master of directing and choreographing. Many classic women in films also influence me. I love Cyd Charisse, Marilyn Monroe, Chita Rivera, Ann-Margret, Audrey Hepburn, Ann Reinking… there are so many!
TNH: Can you talk a bit about your creative process?
TP: Music is the first inspiration for me. The music motivates the concept. Then, I like to explore the concept and its aesthetic. I find editorials and fashion very inspiring and I use tears to create a type of mood board for a piece. I like to have visual references for hair, make-up, costumes, lighting, etc., prior to choreographing a dance. Then comes the hard part… actually choreographing!
TNH: What do you look for when casting dancers and performers?
TP: I always look for uniqueness in a dancer. Dancers that know how to exploit what is special or different about them are my favorite kind of performers. I also always say that good dancing is in the transitions, so I pay close attention to how a dancer gets from step to step.
TNH: What advice would you give a young dancer/performer with big dreams?
TP: You have to love it! It’s not an easy road physically, emotionally or financially… so if you have another choice, you may want to do that!
TNH: How have you found confidence and held your strength through a business that can be filled with rejection, scrutiny and judgment?
TP: I suppose I had an innate confidence or one that I found back when I was three that felt natural. I always believed in myself as a dancer and as a performer. That certainly didn’t make the journey easy, however. It’s difficult for sensitive and creative people, but the clichés are true… you really have to have a thick skin and you absolutely can’t take anything personally.
TNH: What are some of your career highlights?
TP: This year I got to dance (and be the love interest) of Bob Dylan in his music video for “The Night They Called It A Day.” For me, you can’t get much cooler than that! My claim to fame is probably my role in the film “Charlie Wilson’s War” as the belly dancer. Outside of the big jobs, directing and choreographing “Harlow Gold”, which is a joint creation with my partner, Dominic Carbone, is my greatest passion. I love to work with women and our modern cabaret-style revues are dedicated to female beauty and expression, with the intention of empowering women on the stage and off!
TNH: What have been your biggest lessons about yourself in this entertainment field?
TP: The things I was most insecure about turned out to be some of my biggest assets. What made me unique, made me special. I learned to embrace those things as a performer and as a woman.
TNH: Do you have any other thoughts to share?
TP: Thank you, Tara, for honoring me by asking me to be a part of this! You are truly an exceptionaldancer and an inspiring woman!
TNH: Thank you, Tracy! I've always loved you and your work, and happy to share your insight with others! And thank you to those who have visited this page. If you find this inspiring, please forward to others and sign-up for my Newsletter below for more dance love!