Milford's Taylor Conant joins cast of West Side Story on Broadway

At the age of three, Taylor Conant took her first dance class at the former Milford Dance Studio. According to her mother, Taylor joined the class to be with her best friend.

This October Conant, 21, will join the national Broadway tour for the musical West Side Story. She will play head Jets’ girl, Graziella, Riff’s girlfriend.

“What I love about West Side Story is it has a lot of dance choreography,” Conant said. “I have a lot of dancing to do and also some singing and acting, too.”

It was only a year ago that Conant, a Milford native, began to tenaciously hit New York City’s audition circuit. Her first audition for West Side Story was last September.

“It went really well,” Conant said. “I made it to the end.” Even if the performer isn’t immediately cast in the show, Conant said the producers typically save their head shot and resume.

In March, Conant was “invited” to audition for the tour again. Before finally landing the role, she was “called-back” three times to sing and dance.

“Auditioning is definitely a process and one of the hard parts about taking your career in your hands,” she admitted.

It was a little over a year ago that Conant decided to leave college — she had been studying marketing at Manhattan College — to pursue a dance career full-time. Shortly after receiving permission from her parents, Vicki and Blake Conant, to take a leave of absence from college, Conant was awarded a scholarship to attend classes in Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s professional division.

Although she strengthened her skills during the first semester, in January Conant decided to take another leap of faith and leave the Ailey school. Instead of taking classes only at one venue, Conant created a rigorous schedule where she was able to take a variety of different types of dance.

“I just felt like I was ready to go,” Conant said. “I was ready to take my career into my own hands.”

To keep her body fit and conditioned, Conant also included yoga and Pilates classes into her five-day regimen.

A former member of Foran High School’s select vocal ensemble and choir, Conant takes voice lessons, too. During high school, she also performed in several ballets produced by New England Ballet, such as Firebird and Swan Lake.

Her busy schedule also included dancing with choreographer Nikole LaChioma, artistic director of the Performing Arts Center of Connecticut, and performing in children’s shows at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre.

“It was a very busy schedule,” she said.

This summer Conant has been dividing her time between dance classes in New York City and Milford’s shoreline. Although she maintains her Manhattan apartment on the Upper East Side, and describes herself as “a city girl,” Conant also loves spending time at Milford’s beaches.

She’s also beginning to count the days until the show’s rehearsals begin. Conant said she and her mother had the opportunity to catch a performance of West Side Story when the national touring company came to New Haven’s Schubert Theater in June.

“We both walked out of the theater smiling,” she said. “All I could think of was, ‘That’s going to be me up there.’ I’m very excited. This is really a dream come true.”