Native to Trinidad and Tobago, Charlotte Samaroo has been involved in competitive dance and gymnastics from an early age. Today, she’s an MSc Sports Therapy student in London, and a professional dancer, touring for the world-famous Lion King musical production. We caught up with Charlotte, to learn a bit more about her journey through dance, and get some insight into how she manages a healthy and active lifestyle on tour.
HOW DID YOU BEGIN DANCING RECREATIONALLY, AND PROFESSIONALLY?
I used to play on the steps outside of my older sister’s ballet class, I was a rambunctious toddler in pampers, which amused the teacher who encouraged my mom to enrol me at the school. Although I didn’t share my sister’s passion for the art form then, my mom recognized that the discipline would help me progress in gymnastics, my first love.
I continued to train competitively as a gymnast while maintaining my dance training until the age of 15. The injuries I sustained slowed my progress as a gymnast and then I shifted my focus solely to dance. I was fortunate enough to attend pre-professional programs and went on to receive my B.F.A in Dance before going on to audition for professional work.
Since graduating I’ve had the privilege to work with other artists in the field, before joining such an acclaimed production that is The Lion King.
WHAT IS THE GREATEST LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED THROUGH YOUR DANCE EXPERIENCE?
There’s always someone who’s technically better or can do more than you. What’s important is having the ability to bare your soul through your movement. The person watching should feel something, anything.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEMORY FROM TOURING WITH THE LION KING?The roar of the crowd during the first live performance after the opening number ‘The Circle of Life’
HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN HEALTH AND FITNESS ON TOUR?
By sticking to a schedule.
As we have 8 shows every week and one day off, ensuring that my body gets rest and ample nutrition is my biggest priority. But there are a few key rules I try to adhere to:
MEAL PREP twice a week so that I don’t get caught buying meals that maybe aren’t going to give me the most fuel.
VARY MY TRAINING throughout the week; swim 1-2 times, 1 lifting session, rehab and body weight based sessions every other day to reduce my risk of injury . Yoga, mediation and sports massage or a cheeky spa on my day off.
SLEEP - although being in theatre means getting home later at night, I have become disciplined enough to go straight to bed after a show but also not oversleeping the next day. I even take a nap after my morning gym sessions before going to work in the afternoons.
HOW HAS THAT CHANGED IN LOCKDOWN?
Lockdown has been a blessing in disguise. My body was quite fatigued prior to COVID and I was so looking forward to vacation to ‘reset’ and that’s exactly what happened. With the show on suspension, I’ve been able to go back to basics. In the past 3 months I have fortified my sleeping cycle and morning routine.I’ve been able to take a look at where my nutrition was lacking and detox more regularly . I’ve also had the time to meditate and cultivate a daily practice.
WHAT PIQUED YOUR INTEREST IN SPORTS THERAPY?
I sustained countless injuries from gymnastics, dance and swimming. I saw many doctors and physical therapists throughout childhood but they failed to identify the severity of my injuries until it became chronic. As a result I have always been fascinated with the way the body can adapt and repair itself.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE NUTRITIOUS MEAL?
I definitely can’t choose only one! But as a transitioning vegan, after an intense gym session I love roasted butternut squash and kale with lemon, garlic and parsley Salmon.
WHAT PROJECTS/GOALS ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING TOWARD?
My next goal is to gain my Yoga certification. I’m also keeping up with current research on sports science and may enroll in a Dry needling or Acupuncture course soon.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF TRAINING TO BECOME A PROFESSIONAL DANCER?
To my younger self, “Only be driven by and perform work that feeds your soul, regardless of status and opinion of others.”