From Ormond to Broadway...
As a seven-year-old girl playing the guiding light in "The Nutcracker" at the Peabody Auditorium in Daytona, Ormond Beach native Isabella Ward never would have thought she would return to the same theatre over a decade later — this time as a featured dancer during a national tour stop of Rodgers + Hammerstein's "Cinderella" on Broadway.
Now 24, Ward is a testament to never giving up on your dreams. Growing up, she had people tell her dancing was too hard of a
lifestyle, that jobs were few and far between and even that she wasn't talented enough to make it to persuade her out of her passion. Nevertheless, she persisted, saying dancers hoping to follow their dreams can't listen to those people and that they have to believe dancing is what they're meant to do.
“If you believe in your yourself, that’s all that matters, because nobody else is going to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself," Ward said.
It worked for her.
The Spruce Creek alumna trained with the European School of Performing Arts in Ormond Beach for 14 years before continuing in musical theater as a college student at Rollins College and spending two summers training with with Musiktheater Bavaria in Munich, Germany. Ward then received her master's degree in musical theater performance at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. In 2016, she moved to New York City where she began the arduous audition process.
Her first call back for Cinderella took place last year in February, and for a month, she was brought in for callbacks. Ward was soon chosen to come on the show as a replacement for one of the dancers who injured herself.
“It was like a whirlwind," Ward said. "It was crazy.”
In the show, she is one of two featured dancers in a seven-woman ensemble. She said audiences can expect a beautiful show about kindness and spreading positivity. The stop in Daytona Beach will mark her 197th show.
What's it like being in a Broadway show? Ward said it's a lot of hard work, but it's fun because she gets to do what she loves. It's crazy and hectic, she said, but at the same time, Ward gets to travel across the country and meet new people, and in that sense it's very fulfilling.
It also has it's challenges.
“We’re always on the road and we don’t necessarily have a place called home," Ward said. "Our home is the show essentially—that’s the one thing that remains consistent in our life.”
The lack of consistence is also her favorite part of the job. She said it keeps you on your toes, and that you're constantly growing and learning from each new experience.
Ward's family and friends will take up a good portion of the audience in the April 9th show, some of which have never seen her perform. It's a good feeling, she said.
“It feels like I have something to show for all the hard work I put in and all the support that people have given me along the way," Ward said.
Updated at 9:05 p.m. Monday to show that Isabella Ward moved to New York City in 2016, not in 2015 as previously stated.