Marla Louissaint has been such a joy to have as part of the SHUFFLES family. She came into our studio as a very quiet and shy student at first, and we’ve watched her blossom into the confident, talented young woman that she is today. Her persistence and focus is remarkable. This year, Marla won the Gershwin Award for her role as Caroline in Caroline, or Change at her high school and went on to perform in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards at the Minskoff Theatre. There, she won the Jimmy Award (grand prize) and we couldn’t have been prouder (or cheering any louder)!
“Marla is a true fulfillment of the SHUFFLES mission… She is full of JOY and confidence on and off stage. We couldn’t be more proud of her!” – Gail Crutchfield, Founding Director
We interviewed Marla, as she’s one of our graduating seniors, to share a little bit about her life at SHUFFLES and to hear what’s next!
SHUFFLES: How long have you been part of the SHUFFLES Family?
Marla: I started dancing at SHUFFLES in 2010 when I was a wee 7th grader. Well, I didn’t look little, I was just considerably younger than I am now! That would mean that I have been part of the SHUFFLES family for 6 years now!
S: What has your experience been like?
M: My experience has been absolutely magical! I started off in a beginners class full of kids that were much younger than me with my sister Kate (who influenced me to start taking tap at SHUFFLES! Oh how I love her so!). Gail made me feel so comfortable that I even forgot I was in a class with little ones! I’ll never forget being the square dance caller in Fastest Feet!
S: What’s your favorite SHUFFLES memory?
M: My first year in jazz with Jess. I’m sure I can pick out a memory for each Monday we spent in her class, but one day in particular I was feeling low because I just couldn’t understand how to do a pirouette. Jess and her expert detection skills took the time while others were practicing and paid special attention to me to make sure I got my pirouette across the floor before I left Studio 1. And sure enough I did! I owe so much to Jess and her power to really make me feel like a dancer, no matter how “late” in the game I thought I was. Once again, the staff at SHUFFLES made me feel at home!
S: What was your favorite SHUFFLES performance?
M: Stage Door!! Without a doubt! *sings Revolting Children at the top of her lungs* That show was a real game changer for me! It was the first year in Studio when it became more than just about dancing but also giving an honest performance to an audience!
S: What do you think you’ve learned most?
M: JUST HAVE FUN. SHUFFLES taught me to enjoy every waking moment and to not be shy about making choices!
S: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to younger SHUFFLES students (who will miss you)?
M: Trust your teachers -the people who will be your lifetime friends – because they have your best interest at heart. When you’re in an ensemble don’t try to make it about you, because EVERYONE will get their time to shine in a number. Just. Trust. The. Professionals.
S: So… What’s next?
M: I will be going to Fordham University for Engineering Physics in the fall. I will DEFINITELY be auditioning and I’m still going to be taking classes at SHUFFLES to further my skills in dancing (boy will I need those more than ever if I want to make it on a Broadway stage!) I want to be the engineer that builds a stage and can be part of the cast that sings and dances on it!
And we believe she can do it! Marla can do anything she puts her mind to, and we can’t wait for the rest of the world to see her magic.