And was hooked.

At 29, he’s been a performer most of his life, dancing, singing and acting in musicals and other plays throughout the country. Today, the Turner native is artistic director for Community Little Theatre in Auburn.

Just one part of the job that he loves: helping the next generation of young performers have their own Dormouse experience. 

Name: Vincent S. Ratsavong

Age: 29

Town: I was born in Turner, now living in Lewiston

Married/relationship/single: I’m in a relationship

Job: I am the artistic director for Community Little Theatre

What got you interested in dance and theater as a kid? My mother noticed I took interest in the arts at an early age. She did everything in her power to foster that interest. She would take me to the theater to see shows, and she was always impressed with how focused and quiet I was when watching. I remember when I was a little older, but not old enough to drive, she would transport me from rehearsal to rehearsal, even giving up her nights and free time to support my dreams. I think growing up in a supportive open-minded environment allowed me to become the confident person I am today. I credit a lot of my success to her.

Best part about dancing as a career? I think the best part of my earlier dance career was the ease. I miss how my body was able to jump six feet into the air or bend in half without hurting a muscle. I had a ballerina explain to me once that when you’re young, you have all the ability in the world and everything is effortless, but the mind isn’t matured and the characters you dance aren’t developed. As you get older, the technique is much harder to perfect and there is more potential for injury, but the mind has matured and the character has many developed layers. If you’re lucky, for a few years the two meet in the middle and you fly!

Most challenging part? I tore my ACL a few years ago and dancing has never been the same. I still love dancing and auditioning, and can work a room, but I find I’m much more tentative and gentle and I used to be fearless.

What brought you to Community Little Theatre? Community Little Theatre is where I grew up doing theater. It only felt appropriate to give back to the place that fostered my love for theater when I was younger.

Do you act in CLT productions as well as work as artistic director? ?I actually don’t audition at CLT. I sometimes think of auditioning, but I’ve been fortunate enough to have a hefty directing schedule. I’ve been afforded the opportunity to direct in a lot of fabulous places, and I’m excited to share that I’ll be directing and choreographing a production of “A Chorus Line” at the Priscilla Beach Theatre in Plymouth, Mass., this summer!

Proudest moment as CLT’s artistic director? It’s funny you bring this up. My dear friend and colleague Jennifer Groover and I always discuss this and share the same sentiment. Our proudest moment is always watching the neighborhood grocer work with the local doctor and the stay-at-home parent. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, but theatre is such a communal activity that can only be done with each member being invested in the process. I think the volunteers at Community Little Theatre really embody that. It’s humbling to watch a community of people come together from very different walks of life and create something they can be proud of.

What’s it like working with kids in the summer program? I love working with the Summer Youth Theater Project and the Teen Musical Theater Showcase. . . . Many of the students take the training very seriously as they want to move on to becoming professionals. We focus on training the students in spoken voice, singing, dance technique, acting technique and even a few instrumentalists. There are workshops provided to the students in stage craft, stage combat, technical design and improvisation. It’s funny, because so many parents and family members tell us that we have changed their child’s life or that we provide top-notch training and they don’t know how we do it in such a short time frame. But I have to tell you that the students do the same for us. I learn and grow as a director/artist from working with these young minds. They help me discover new possibilities, and just when I think we’ve come to the end, they help me realize we’ve actually started a new beginning.

From a professional’s perspective, is Broadway’s “Hamilton” as good as the hype? HAHAHA! That’s funny . . . you know, I have to hand it to Lin Manuel Miranda, he is a genius. He is redefining the face of musical theater and coming from a very fresh contemporary perspective. I think there’s a strong voice in his work, with a killer attention to detail. His artistic fusion is infectious and I can see why so many love his work. It’s not really in my scope to judge other projects or say what is good or bad. I think it’s sad and detrimental to this art form when people choose to take that route and destroy theater. It’s the reason so many important, thoughtful, original works close far too early on Broadway.

Advice to the next generation of dance and theater geeks? Well, to start, I don’t enjoy the label “dance and theater geek.” So my first piece of advice would be to abolish that stereotype from their vocabulary. I think my biggest piece of advice that I try to impart on the next generation is keep digging, keep researching and never feel like enough is enough. I believe that being a performing artist and the act of theater is the art of making human action worth watching. So if we’re going to make human action worth watching, then we need to understand humans. Watch people, watch how they behave, study individuals through history and their objectives. This research will make you a better and more informed artist.

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