Pursuing a dream to dance: Taylor Conant dreamed of landing a role in 'Chicago'

Taylor Conant of Milford decided to follow her dream several years ago when she left college — she had been studying marketing at Manhattan College — to pursue a dance career full-time.

A year later, with a rigorous training schedule, and years of dance, singing and athletic training behind her, Conant was cast in the national Broadway tour for the musical West Side Story.

Not long ago the 23-year-old auditioned for a role with Broadway’s Chicago the Musical US Tour.

“My dream role has been Velma Kelly since the day I saw the show as a teenager,” Conant said. “I remember telling my mom, ‘I am going to be Velma Kelly one day!’”

Conant, born and raised in Milford and a graduate of Foran High School, aspired to be a ballerina from the time she started dancing at the age of 3, and she spent much of her training preparing for a career in dance. But it was after seeing Chicago that she realized Broadway was what she truly wanted, and she started incorporating more jazz, singing and acting into her repertoire.

Conant auditioned for Chicago in mid-September.

“There were two full rooms of ladies and over 200 names on the list, which was certainly overwhelming,” she recalled. “I put my name down, headed to a corner in the room and got myself dressed, warmed up and ready to go when they called my name into the room.”

Conant was still in the running after several rounds of cuts, and then she was asked to sing.

“My stomach dropped, similar to a roller coaster, and I was flushed with emotions of nerves. ‘OMG this is it!’ and ‘Calm yourself down, and get it together, Taylor!’” she told herself. “I sang one of my favorite songs and was asked to sing some more.”

A couple of weeks later, while she was driving to a friend’s wedding, she got an email about a callback. She didn’t tell anyone right away, not even her mother or boyfriend.

She spent the next week learning songs and lines from scenes in the show.

“It was a lot of new material, but I memorized it all so I could be completely prepared for whatever they would want to see the day of the audition,” she said.

The callback included about 20 men and 20 women. It was quick and before she knew it, it was over, and all she could do was wait.

“Late one evening, just a few days after the final audition, I was sitting on my couch going through emails and updating things on my computer. It was 11 p.m. or so and I got an email notification. I said to my boyfriend, ‘Who could be emailing me at this hour?!’ I opened it thinking I was just getting a spam email, but in that moment, I became a part of the Chicago family! There were lots of tears of joy, hugs and smiles.”

Conant plays June, one of the Cell Block Tango ladies, and she is understudy for Velma Kelly.

The company recently performed in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan, for a month and will be getting back on the road for the U.S. part of the itinerary, which includes places like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Michigan, Delaware, and Chicago.

At 23, Conant is the youngest in the cast.

She said she’s living her dream.

“I remember in my first performance, when Velma Kelly is revealed with a spotlight,” Conant said. “There was a quick moment of stillness on the stage where the commotion and energies of all the dancers just stop, as choreographed. In that freeze pose I could feel my heart beating so fast but yet there was tranquility in my body and a sense of belonging. I wanted to just jump up and down with a huge smile and tell the little Taylor who sat in the audience years ago, ‘You did it!’”