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July 31, 2021 3 min read


Courtney Liu is a dancer, teacher, and choreographer living between New York City and Durham, NC. She initially began her ballet career performing corps de ballet at age 14 years old with the Cincinnati Ballet. However, her college path almost led to her becoming a clinical or research psychologist! She’s performed in Broadway’sPhantom of the Opera(Ensemble, Meg Giry u/s), Kristen Sandler’sGilded, Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake,Queen of the Night, and the Broadway Dance Lab. In addition to performing, Liu recently completed her MFA at Duke University! This summer Courtney is the Artist-In-Residence at Thistle, a NYC-based company. She is also teaching various summer intensives and on Zoom, performing/choreographing locally, and co-choreographing wedding dances with her fiance through their company, Save the First Dance. She advises young artists to seek out alternative sources of income to the Arts to help better provide for themselves, and states from personal experience that these “odd jobs” can be enjoyable! Courtney will be returning to New York this fall for reopening rehearsals for the Broadway company of Phantom of the Opera!  Read on to learn more about Courtney Liu and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 

Name:   Courtney Liu

Heritage:   1/2 Chinese, 1/2 German/Belgian/Irish

Hometown:   Cincinnati, OH

Current City:   Durham, NC

Current projects:   Presenting/publishing my MFA research, choreographing a work for the NYC-based company,Thistle, about Kang Tongbi, a woman who was instrumental in ending foot binding in China, teaching #garageballet and private students on Zoom, choreographing wedding dances for soon-to-be-wed couples, and working as a Project Coordinator for DukeEngage in Ahmedabad, India (virtual service-learning program for Duke undergraduates)!

Upcoming Projects: 

-Choreographic commission for Maximilliano Amici (classical composer).

-Performance at the North Carolina Museum of Art in collaboration with American Dance Festival.

-Teaching for summer intensives.

What are some of your favorite credits/projects: 

-Choreographing my MFA thesis piece,Waters to Waters, with an incredible team of undergraduates, Duke alumni, and Duke staff.

-Performing with thePhantom of the Opera on Broadway. 

-Meeting one of my best friends on the Radio City Christmas Spectacular Tour

-Vacation swinging atQueen of the Night (sister show toSleep No More).

-Performing Kristen Sandler'sGilded at the DC Fringe Festival.

-Touring with Matthew Bourne’sSwan Lake.

-Working with a variety of brilliant choreographers as a dancer for the Broadway Dance Lab.

Any advice for young people getting into the arts? 

I would recommend cultivating an alternative way to earn income (teaching fitness, remote work, tutoring, etc.) to reduce financial stress. 

How did you get your start? 

I got my start performingcorps de ballet roles with the Cincinnati Ballet when I was 14. I started my career in NYC by taking a lot of open classes and auditioning/performing for small companies that did not conflict with my 9-5 research job. 

Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you'd like to share?

My Broadway debut and performing Meg on Broadway for the first time were very special moments :)

What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career? 

The biggest challenge in my career has been balancing my desire for stability and routine (I do well with a set schedule) with a freelance lifestyle.

Did you always want to be in the arts or did you have another path before you got here? 

During and after my undergraduate years I wanted to be a clinical or research psychologist. Dance drew me back in when I was working as a Research Manager for a heroin addiction study at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. 

Did you have any interesting “odd jobs” you worked at between gigs to pay the bills?

I have had a number of “odd jobs” between gigs and during gigs that I have really enjoyed including tutoring, temping, and working remotely for start-ups. 

What skills did you find to be the most helpful in your career?

Time management, perseverance, and somatic awareness

Where did you study at?

I am a double Dukie! I went to Duke for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. 

What do you love most about what you do?

Oh there are so many things! I love how it feels to move. I love learning and helping my students learn. I love the energy of creation. And I love reading/writing about dance. 

To find out more about Courtney, please visit her at:



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