City/Town of Residence: Providence
Occupation: Director Chifferobe and The TropiGals, Freelance Tap Dancer
Family: Husband, Brian Oakley, an Owner of Julians
Your sport of fitness activity: Dance
Events you are training for: Any that I may get booked to perform in the years to come.
What is your proudest fitness accomplishment?: 9 years ago, I injured my knee in a dance performance, tearing a ligament and severing my patella. My surgeon, Dr. Orin Sherman – formerly the orthopedic surgeon for the Mets – told me that I had “undoubtedly the worst knee injury” that he had ever seen. After my first operation (of three), he also told my parents that I would not be able to dance again, told me that running was out of the question, and that the transition to walking again would be challenging at best. Today, I direct a dance company of ten women in Providence, RI, called the Chifferobe TropiGals. I am part of a tap duo that is based in NYC, called The Minsky Sisters, and I tour as often as I can. The effort that it took to get to a place were my busiest season has me performing every other night, let alone dance with my girlfriends on an occasional Friday night, has been tremendous and is certainly my best fitness accomplishment.
What motivates you?: Knowing that I only have one body and one chance to both treat and use it well
Best local eats: My favorites are Julian’s (for brunch), Garden Grille (for linner), and Oyster Bar (for ‘appy hour)
Famous person you would like to have dinner with: Vera Ellen (1921-1981), tap dancer and silver screen siren
What’s on your nightstand?: “Performance Art” by Roselee Goldberg, “Yes Please” by Amy Poeher, and “Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy” by Karen Abbott about female spies in the Civil War including my great aunt
Favorite cheat meal/snack: All of the cheese
Best thing about living in RI: I have only been here for about 5 years, but I have enjoyed living in an environment where I have the creative freedom to start a small business (that is totally outside of the box) without any loan assistance. This city has so many small businesses, many of which are owned and run by women. I think that really makes this city unique…and the architecture, which just keeps on giving.
One thing people don’t know about you: I lived in West Africa, backpacking and studying art and dance, for the better part of a year.
Favorite quote: Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting. And you don’t do that by sitting around. – Katharine Hepburn
Fitness tip for RI Fit Readers: Don’t stop moving, but respect your body’s voice when it tells you that it needs rest.