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United We Are a Force, and Individually We are W.O.N.

Image Courtesy of Jordan Setzer

Women of Note celebrates the unique talents of women of Hampton Roads and seeks to raise awareness of issues women face in the 21st century. We are well aware of the many hats women wear throughout the day as well as throughout their lives and we would like to give women the opportunity to share their experiences juggling these with our community. By sharing our experiences, we hope to inspire others, learn from their perspectives, and foster a dialogue that creates solutions. Today we spot light Jordan Setzer.

Affiliation(s) (past and present):

Past - Victoria in the 30th Anniversary Tour of Cats,Choreographer for Fun Home, Guys and Dolls and Pride and Prejudiceat Virginia Stage Company; Ensemble with Radio City Christmas Spectacular; Dance on the High Seaswith Celebrity Cruises. Trained with Ballet Memphis, Nashville Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theater, and Kansas City Ballet.

Present - Mom to two active toddlers, Caleb(3.5) and Liam (2). Dog mom to three Siberian huskies. Cat mom to the one who rules the house. Wife to an active duty sailor. In my junior year with Saint Leo University, studying Business Management with a focus in Marketing. Most recently crafty entrepreneur, hoping to fill my need to create.

How long have you been (working in/participating in) your field? How did you get into it?

I am pretty sure that I have been dancing since I was in my mother's belly. I started dance class at 2.5, because I would crawl into my older sister's dance classes when no one was looking. I spent all my time not in school either in a dance class or theater. I began performing in musicals at the age of 8. I was cast as Tootles in "Peter Pan" at Playhouse on the Square in Memphis. I have had an extremely eclectic training and career. My parents and mentors are the ones that opened doors for me and allowed me safe spaces to explore movement and create art.

How long have you been working/ living in in Hampton Roads?

I unofficially moved to Virginia Beach in 2013, when my husband and I were dating. I was subletting an apartment in New York City and pursuing my dream to be in a Broadway show. We married in November of 2015, but I still traveled between the two cities. I officially settled in Virginia Beach in December of 2016 when I found out I was pregnant with my son.

What advice would you give young women going into your field?

If there is any other occupation that inspires you and brings you joy, choose that! Although the theater and dance industry has changed in many positive ways, it still has a lot of work to be inclusive and accepting. You are in the business of selling yourself as a brand. It can be very difficult to hear more "no", " you are not what we are looking for", or " can you also tumble, belt a high C, and play the accordion?". The second bit of advice is that you cannot put your life on hold for a show or possibility of being cast in a show. In order to be a fulfilled and successful artist, you must have life experiences. Do not miss prom, graduation, delay having a family, and all those other milestones that you want in your life. Those emotions and situations are what feed your emotional tool box. My last piece of advice is always continue to study your craft. I don't mean that you have to take five dance classes a week. It could mean binge watching Bridgerton on Netflix and then after analyzing what you loved ( The Duke of Hastings) and what you did not love. Analyzing other artists work can lead you to more self-discovery than acting or dancing yourself.

Has parenthood impacted your career or shaped your perspective as a professional? In what ways?

Parenthood exploded my career. When I learned I was pregnant, I did a complete 180 with my career. Our first son was not planned, but not exactly an accident. More of an, "Oh, we didn't expect you to arrive so soon.". My husband is active-duty Navy and we were planning to move to New Jersey, so that I could pursue my theatrical career and he would hopefully be stationed there soon to follow. Because of the incredible healthcare we receive in Virginia Beach, we decided to stay here. I could have continued traveling between Hampton Roads and NYC, but that was not something I wanted for my newly forming family. My performance opportunities in Hampton Roads are limited, because I am a member of Actor's Equity. My union status had already limited my work options when I moved to the area. Being a pregnant dancer, really limited my work opportunities. BUT, one day I got a phone call from Tom Quaintance, Producing Artistic Director of Virginia Stage Company, and he needed a AEA Swing/Dance Captain and Co- Choreographer for their production of "The Wiz". This production was co-produced with Norfolk State Theater department and had an extremely large cast. My goal was to only step a foot onstage if I absolutely had to. Well, me and my son Caleb made our stage debut a few days after Opening Night. I was so nervous to be onstage, running up and down stairs, while nearing my third trimester. The cast, crew, and staff at Virginia Stage Company were so supportive! It was after the show closed, that I knew the only theaters I wanted to work for, were ones who put family first. I have been blessed to choreograph four shows, assist with auditions, and fill-in stage manage for Virginia Stage Company. I have been able to bring both of my boys to work with me when my childcare fell through at the last minute. I've worn my youngest while holding a dance call, breastfed in a dressing room, had my son playing in the costumer shop, and every time my children walk into the theater they are greeted by every cast and staff member. The inclusion of my family, allowed me to overcome my anxiety and fear that I would be viewed differently as an artist now that I am also a mother.

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