Gibbs High School Grad, Wicked Dance Captain

Lisa Finegold
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Although the Broadway production of Wicked has come and gone this past weekend in Tampa, you caught one of many Pinellas County Center for the Arts success stories if you attended the event.

Dance Captain/Swing Lisa Finegold graduated from Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School in 2007 under a special combined study in theatre and dance. She grew up classically trained in ballet but learned other styles such as jazz, modern, tap, character and hip hop. She was a dance major at John Hopkins but in high school she switched to a theatre major with a toe still in the dance department..

“I went to Suzanne Pomerantzeff’s ballet studio outside of school so I was also able to squeeze into the dance dept at PCCA when I could,” she said. “I had a relationship with her outside the school — I was kind of an exception I guess.”

As dance captain, Finegold, along with her co-captain male dancer, said she is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the choreography on a daily basis – she watches each show and takes notes if she sees something is off or not working

“Things change and morph and people are human so you need an outside eye to say ‘you’re not hitting your mark,’” Finegold said. “We’re responsible for teaching the new company members the show. When a new male or female member comes into the show, we’re responsible for teaching them the entire track. I’m responsible for the two witches, any time they’re moving to music. Or swing, I cover the entire female ensemble so it someone calls out or is on vacation or has an injury leave, I fill in for them and I know all nine parts and can go on for them at any point.”

She lives in New York City, has one of the few stable theatre jobs working full time.


Can you tell me what you got out of PCCA and what your dreams were for yourself at the time?

PCCA was definitely the fast lane as far as high school theatre programs go. My teachers were incredibly helpful throughout my four years there. Aside from everything I learned as far as theatre history and performance technique are considered, I would have been lost without my teachers’ guidance while I was auditioning for theatre college programs. I feel as though my teachers at PCCA took a lot of care in helping me find out about the right/best programs for me and preparing me for those auditions. Also, I was lucky to have a relationship with both the musical theatre teachers and also the dance department (Suzanne Pomerantzeff), I got a very well rounded education, combining theatre and dance, which I have found has set me apart in the professional world.

My dream for myself during high school and even as a young girl has always been to dance on broadway. That’s been my dream for as long as I can remember. I always knew I wanted to be a working actor in NYC. Now that I’ve achieved that dream or goal I’ve been thinking about what’s next a lot, since being a dancer has a limited life span. I guess what I’m trying to say is I didn’t realize that there would be time in my life for another phase of my career. I think about that a lot.


How did you come to land yourself such a sweet gig as dance lead in Wicked?

I booked Wicked through an audition that I got through my agent. That being said, I have a relationship with the casting director who has cast me in other projects. Besides being able to go into an audition room and deliver the material the way the creatives or casting directors want it, most working and booking gigs in this business comes down to trust. It’s not really good enough to just be good enough, a lot of times it’s also about being trustworthy and a good person to work with.


Do you feel full of life all the time because you’re always dancing? Is that what drew you to dance?

I think I was drawn to dance through music and also being a hyper kid who was easily bored. I stayed interested in dance because I always feel like the best version of myself when I’m dancing. Also, you can never be the best dancer in the world, there’s always someone better so it never gets boring because you can always be better. Performing has always been a huge part of my life, it’s incredibly empowering to have a group of people’s undivided attention for two and a half hours a night. And it makes me happy when the audience enjoys themselves, that’s the most fulfilling.

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