From St. Kate’s to ‘Hamilton’: Minnesota woman interrupts studies to tour with blockbuster
The minute “Hamilton” closes in Cleveland Sunday, Minneapolis’ Kourtni Lind-Watson will grab her wife, Arlene, and their dogs, pack their Subaru Outback with suitcases and camping gear and hit the road for Minneapolis.
A veteran of “So You Think You Can Dance” and Broadway’s “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” and a graduate of the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, Lind-Watson is the dance supervisor for “Hamilton.” That means she monitors at least five performances a week of the choreography-heavy show, making sure performers execute their moves exactly as intended while keeping in touch with the show’s creative team and teaching steps to new performers.
“It feels like the peak of a career I have worked at very hard for a long time. And that is an exciting place to be, when you go back and look at the work I’ve done to get here,” says Lind-Watson, who relocated back home to Minnesota from New York two years ago to study biology at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, at least in part because “our desired style of living no longer existed in New York.”
She continued to take dance and choreography jobs and, in fact, was working on a cruise ship in Norway last August, before beginning her second year of school, when she learned her “So You Think You Can Dance” colleague Al Blackstone had recommended her for the “Hamilton” job. Lind-Watson, who had not seen or heard the show at that point, flew to the United States for an interview. Within a month, she had given up her apartment in the Whittier neighborhood and begun working on “the most demanding job I’ve had in my career.”
“Dance supervisor” is a job title that doesn’t even exist on most shows, which rely instead on the dancers to keep themselves on track. Lind-Watson says she knows she’s meeting the demands of that job when she finds herself getting lost in the musical she has seen hundreds of times.
“When I’m still affected by the show and our company, affected in a really emotional way and thinking, ‘Wow, those shapes are great,’ or ‘Wow, that looked really cool,’ that’s when I feel like I witnessed the effectiveness of my position,” she says. “We started rehearsals in December and opened this tour in February, so we’re a decent number of shows in, and to have it feel so powerful and so exciting is a good marker.”
“Hamilton” is going to be a tough gig to top, anyway, so Lind-Watson plans to go in a completely different direction after she’s done with it.
“I will be here as long as I can serve this job and it can serve me and my family,” says Lind-Watson, who met her wife on “Spider-Man,” a financial disaster but a romantic triumph (Arlene worked on puppets and wardrobe and Kourtni was a performer). After that, she will resume her biology studies, with an eye toward research in ecology.
There are lots of things Lind-Watson would like to investigate. And, to quote the title character of “Hamilton,” she is not going to throw away her shot.
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