Haley Ostir graduated from The Boston Conservatory with a BFA in Musical Theatre. She then took the world by storm … literally.
New York, National Tours, Cruise Ships, Video/TV… she appeared in a bevy of musicals with Mamma Mia, Evita, Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Catch Me If You Can, SHREK!, Beauty and The Beast as some favorites. She appeared in Josh Walden’s production of On1Condition:Supernatural at Dixon Place;
… and she even played Fruma Sarah in Fiddler on the Roof!
On the high seas, she appeared in Norwegian Cruise Line’s production of Jersey Boys and then achieved principle role status for VELVET: The Show.
Now stationed in NYC, Haley is currently part of an the Jazz/Theatre dance company, Velvet City Dance Company. What does she do when not dancing … she teaches it at Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance. She also assistant directed the school’s production of Theory of Relativity in 2019.
During lockdown she created a series of dance collaborations on zoom that were critically acclaimed for their precision and innovation. But we knew there was more so we sat down with the exuberant artists about the pandemic and the future.
What did you do during the pandemic?
I was performing with Norwegian Cruise Line on The Breakaway, as a principal role in the show, VELVET. When the pandemic hit, no one really knew what was going on. Things started to feel serious when Broadway announced they were closing. I flew home to Canada (Winnipeg MB) and quarantined in my old bedroom. It was the first time I’d been home in years, so it was kind of a blessing in disguise. I am a person who doesn’t do well with this boredom, so I immediately gave myself a quarantine bucket list of what I wanted to accomplish while I was stuck home. I was home for about 2 months. I started teaching online via ZOOM for my dance studio back in NYC (Maine Street Theatre & Dance Alliance). I was able to create a visual recital dance for them, which was definitely a unique experience. I held weekly zoom dance classes for my friends who were also in the performing industry. This challenged me to come up with new choreography and work on my person teaching rep. It was nice to have a sense of community.
While I was home I was able to do some in-person and zoom private dance classes for students at the studio I grew up dancing for (Shelley Shearer School of Dance). I was later asked to give a Master class on Theatre Dance and an “About the Business” class. It was a real full circle moment for me.
Something which was fun to be a part of was the Jersey Boys- Covid Relief Video. Members from 15 companies of the Tony-winning hit musical Jersey Boys came together (remotely, of course) to honor COVID-19 relief efforts and perform the finale number, Who Loves You. The video features cast members from La Jolla (where the musical premiered in 2005), Broadway (Tony winner Christian Hoff, Andrew Rannells, Drew Gehling, Jarrod Spector, Richard H. Blake, Michael Longoria, J. Robert Spencer, Colin Donnell and Peter Gregus), the first and second North American tours, SETA National tour, Chicago, Toronto, London, U.K. tour, Australia, the Netherlands, South Africa, Norwegian Cruise Line Bliss, Las Vegas and the off-Broadway production, starring Aaron De Jesus, CJ Pawlikowski, John Rochette and Jonathan Cable. This video was created to help encourage viewers to donate to local COVID-19 relief efforts. With over 75,000 + Views on YouTube, this video has made an impact within our community and supports those who have been putting their lives on the line to save those who are suffering. (https://www.broadway.com/buzz/199190/watch-this-amazing-who-loves-you-video-from-jersey-boys-casts-around-the-world/)
Once I finally got back to NYC I immediately started teaching again with MSTDA on Roosevelt Island, Pre-Ballet, Creative Dance and some outdoor dance classes. I was able to go into the studio with a limited number of students (With Masks of course) and be the Broadway Bootcamp Choreographer for the week.
Work seems to be returning for you. What’s coming up?
Getting myself back into tip top shape has been my priority. I have been taking classes with choreographers like James Kinney. I like his class because it’s 2 hours long and everyone participating has to be fully vaxed. This way we are able to dance maskless. The 2 hour class allows for a solid technical warm up, across the floor and a combination. It’s been great to get back into a space with other dancers, as opposed to my bedroom/living room.
I recently started to teach my own Adult Theatre Jazz class through Maine Street Theatre & Dance Alliance. We had our first class last night and it went off with a hit. I also started an invitational Theatre Jazz Master Workshop (Invite Only) class through the studio. I hand picked students I saw had natural raw talent and gathered them into one class, so I can further their potential at a higher level. Last week my tiny ballerinas had their recital and now we are into their summer session where I will continue to teach throughout the week.
Island Om is a brand new fitness/yoga studio that will be opening up on Roosevelt Island, run by Jax Schott. The studio is currently having their “soft opening” with outdoor classes until next month, when the studio renovation is complete. I was asked to create my own class based on my dance training. My class is called S.W.A.G, Sculpt With A Groove! Where I give your sculpt some style, and find your SWAG at the Barre. I incorporate Sculpt strengthening moves with dance-style training techniques, all while grooving along to your favorite hits! (https://www.islandomnyc.com).
As for the performing side, I have had several self tapes this month. Going from zero for several months and suddenly 5 within one month, was exciting! I was asked to go back onto the cruise again this august. I have decided to turn it down. It was a tough decision, but I have decided I want to be in NYC continuing my training, auditioning for all that I can and continue to make connections. This is all very hard to do when you’re at sea.
How do you think the theatrical climate will change in NYC and beyond now:
I think there is so much that has changed and so much that still needs to be changed. In terms of auditions. I can’t imagine that things will ever go back to how they used to be. I have a feeling that overcrowded chorus waiting rooms will be a thing of the past. I think video submissions will continue to be used more and more.
I am hopeful that when Broadway and more and more live theatre returns, the industry will be more diverse and inclusive. I think many actors had time to reflect during this time and had the time to speak up and fight for what they wanted. I also think we may start seeing more and more “live taped musical specials” like Hamilton on Disney Plus.