Dancer Sidney Erik Wright ’05: Make your own work.
Dancer Sidney Erik Wright ’05 was an English literature concentrator in college and went on to work as an actor, director, dancer and choreographer after graduation. Wright was back in Cambridge performing in an exciting new project recently and spoke about what it’s like working in the arts after Harvard and how to make a living doing what you love.
Why are you back on campus right now?
This is the first time I’ve been back for seven or eight years. A project just kind of fell into my lap. My roommate was offered the chance to be a featured dancer for this music video. He wasn’t able to get out of town, but I was like “Wait, what is this project?” I knew Cambridge, and I support indie artists making their own scrappy work. It was a perfect excuse to dance in a music video for awesome new people.
So what is this music video?
It’s for a web-series called My Gay Roommate. I was put in contact with Noam Ash who is the star of the series and is also the head writer. The project is absolutely up my alley: I love gay cinema, and musical theater dance is my background. It was a no brainer.
What arts did you do when you were an undergraduate?
I didn’t really fit into the arts scene at Harvard. I was the scrappy musical theater dance boy, and there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for male musical theater dance. A lot of the theater tended to be more academic, dramatic, straight plays. But I directed and choreographed a show my senior year in the Adam’s Pool Theater, and I was an English major so I did lots of creative writing and took classes in dramatic structure.
What was the transition like from undergraduate to the professional world?
Immediately out of school I started working professionally as a musical theater dancer. I did a national tour for a year, and then moved to New York and pretty immediately got my Equity card. I was in the original cast of Disney’s Finding Nemo, and then I had a drought because the economy collapsed. I started making my own work, directing, choreographing and on-camera acting. Now I’m doing a fair amount in all these different parallel careers. You have to wear many hats.
What one thing should undergraduates know about making the leap into the professional performing world?
My biggest piece of advice would be: Don’t wait for someone to give you the opportunity, you have to make your own. Just make your own work, make your own work, make your own work.