“I feel most alive, most in my power, when I’m performing,” says Sunny Hitt of The Dance Cartel, the NYC-based dance troupe founded by Ani Taj, which she’s been a part for the past year. The Dance Cartel has grown in popularity since being featured on Conan in the early part of 2014 and being reviewed by The New York Times, among other publications, back in April.
Though Sunny's role in The Dance Cartel now includes dancing freestyle in spandex and high-tops, her introduction to dance began with tutus and pirouettes at the tender age of 4. As a child and teen, Sunny danced as much as she could by attending classes and rehearsals all over her home state of Maine and attending summer program additions in Boston, New York, and elsewhere. After high school, she had what she dubs “the tri-college tour” which included an introduction at SUNY Purchase Dance Conservatory, some time at the University of Southern Maine, and then winding up at Marlboro College in Vermont, where she graduated with a BA in Dance.
While ballet is Sunny's dance foundation, it was her subsequent discovery of modern, contemporary, cultural, and popular dance forms that granted her the freedom to explore movement, improvisation, and choreography in completely new ways, allowing her to progress and grow not only as a dancer, but as a person too. Taking these various paths has proven to be particularly beneficial in her role in The Dance Cartel, which draws from a wide range of sources. “It’s important to be versatile, to take risks, to not be afraid of looking wild and crazy – even dumb at times,” the dancer says, adding, “I love being able to draw upon my ballet technique in one moment and then completely drop it to become an animal the next.”
As with any art form technique is fundamental, but just as paramount are the inspirations we draw from, which Sunny says come from her friends, her boyfriend, and her family, all of whom happen to be creators in some way. That, and Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things, a book that she recently read which contained “real stories that were pretty fucking inspiring.”
Beyond inspiration, it is the overall medium of dancing that is inherent to Sunny’s essence who says that she’ll be “dancing in some way for the rest of [her] life.” While her current gig with The Dance Cartel is a “hell of a lot more fun” than her previous experiences dancing, Sunny’s future hopes are to share her experience and knowledge of dance by way of teaching and to possibly collaborating and creating performance experiences. Ultimately, though, her goals as a human are to continue to be kind, compassionate, and joyful.
Apart from dance as work and play, Sunny finds her bliss in the moments just before waking up or getting out of bed. “It’s quiet,” she says, “and the day is full of possibility.”
Sunny’s touring with The Dance Cartel at its NYC base, and in Portland, Maine and beyond. Catch her at SPACE Gallery in Portland, Maine this Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 8:30 PM. More information regarding other upcoming performances can be found at http://www.thedancecartel.com/.