Keeping up with Viv: A Year in Review

Hello and welcome to my fourth and last blog post! My year as the Inaugural Ann Reinking Award scholarship winner has come to a close. It feels bittersweet as I am sad it’s over, but overjoyed and grateful it happened. The Vivianna I was, fresh out of Arizona a year ago, is not the same Vivianna you meet today. I have a faster pace to my walk because I’m a New Yorker in a rush now! In all seriousness, I feel that I’ve grown a lot this year. My first year living in the city brought its challenges and moments of bliss, so I thought it would be fun to give my year in review, share some survival tips and some of my favorite places! Can I get a woot woot?

Catching Up

What have I been up to? Blog readers, I feel like you know me already and know this answer. 

I’ve been in class (lol)! Truthfully, the last two months included many changes (cue Changes by David Bowie).

It all started with my birthday in late August, and I swear, the air felt different. 

Since then, my life has felt like a new season of a TV show with new characters, new plot, some heartache, and a new hope. It’s fresh, scary, and hopeful, yet a beautiful vibe.  

An exciting thing to happen was doing my first TV/Film gig! I was a background actor for season 5 of Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I had three shoot days over the span of two weeks. It was so fun to get fitted for a costume in the style of the show, it’s set in the late 50s early 60s, and I even got a free haircut! I had never been on set before, so it was fascinating to witness actors right in front of me film take, after take, after take.

I always knew it took time to get the perfect shot, but it still blew my mind how it would take a whole day, and possibly several days, to film only one scene.  Filming with many background actors meant bright and early call times.

The earliest I had to show up was 3:30 in the morning, and I am very impressed that I was able to accomplish that considering my record of struggling to wake up at 7:30.

The best part about this gig was getting to meet many young actors in the city! I am constantly around dancers, which I love, but it was refreshing to meet artists with a different discipline.

As I mentioned before, I have been in class at Steps on Broadway and The Taylor School because of my scholarships. Have I mentioned I’m the luckiest girl? I have also been auditioning and submitting self tapes whenever I can. (Send me good vibes, thank you!) I got two new side jobs which is great. Definitely taking life one day at a time, trying not to worry so much about the future and enjoying the beauty of the present.

I also recently did The Process with James Jin! He’s a wonderful artist and photographer.  Check him out on Instagram @jamesjinimages. I worked with him during my first visit to New York City in the summer of 2019. It was my first time doing a professional photoshoot and I was very nervous and excited. Returning back to The Process a second time was amazing.

The experience wasn’t only about taking pictures of dance poses and making sure my lines looked presentable; it was a celebration of beauty from within and embracing my essence while capturing it on film.

I am thrilled to get all my photos and share them with my friends!

Watch Vivianna’s updated dance reel, featuring her work over this past year.

That’s a wrap on what I’ve been up to.  Next up some recommendations and top picks from my year in the city!

Viv’s Food Picks

I am going to share some places I love and recommend, but what I would love more than anything are recommendations from blog readers. I personally am a picky eater and it has prevented me from trying more things out of my comfort zone when it comes to food. I also need to do more research because places I hear of can be pricey, so I’d love to find the hidden gems of New York that won’t break the bank.

One of my biggest faults is being lazy in choosing where to grab food.

Confession time: I got chipotle and Shake Shack more times than I am proud to admit in my first year here.

I didn’t think it was possible, but I am officially tired of Chipotle.

However, I think there will always be a place in my heart for Shake Shack and the hot food bar at Whole Foods. 

Here are a few places I had the pleasure of going to and absolutely love! (Click to visit their website)

Things To Do for Fun

Survival Tips

I feel privileged and grateful to live in New York City. The Schuyler Sisters are right, this is the greatest city in the world. I love everything: the arts, food, culture, fashion, and endless opportunity. Although, all of the opportunities in the arts mixed with a giant population of talented artists can be overwhelming. We all have big dreams and it can be intimidating as we compare ourselves to one another. In my entire life, and especially this year, I have realized that I am too hard on myself. Whenever I am experiencing self doubt, thinking about my younger self always helps.

I remember that she would be so proud of me! She wouldn’t believe our reality, living in Manhattan, getting selected to be the inaugural Ann Reinking Scholarship winner, having walked a red carpet, giving a speech without passing out, standing in the front of dance classes, auditioning and getting callbacks, taking singing lessons, and continuing to pursue our dreams. 

Life is too short to only focus on what you have not achieved yet. As dancers who have trained for most of their lives, we measure our worth on which jobs we have booked and not how much we are growing as human beings. This can be a dangerous concept because we are much more than our resume! 

Throughout this journey, the words of wisdom I try to remind myself of daily is that there is enough love, fortune, positivity, and work to go around! Even if people are booking work and I haven’t? I choose to be happy for them because there is enough for all of us. Everyone is on their own timeline. Not only must you trust the universe’s timing, but you must trust yourself (having confidence). Everyone experiences negative self-talk. What helps me immensely is to write it down and see/hear how silly the negative comments are. An amazing sports psychologist once told me to “turn my sea of negative what-ifs into positive what-if’s.” It sounds so simple, but once you do it and allow yourself to be set free in your imagination, it does wonders. For example: “What if the audition goes great?”  “What if it goes better than I think it will?” “What if I surprise myself?” “What if I just enjoy myself?” 

Journaling is another beneficial task I try to incorporate into my daily practice.

The beauty is that there is no wrong way to journal. All you have to do is write what is going on in your head, and yes, that includes the negative self doubt. It is good to let it all out of your system to create space for everything else going on in your brain.

Then as I journal, I write everything I am grateful for that day, even if it’s the fact that I have a roof over my head. Then the fun stuff, manifesting! I list what I see in my future and speak it into existence and allow myself to imagine how it would feel when those dreams become my reality.

I focus on that feeling and finish my journaling with affirmations. All of this helps ease my morning anxiety and it feels like a big sense of relief as I exhale.

Another huge goal I’m working on and starting to practice is the art of play. Letting your creativity play is crucial! Whether it’s posting whatever silly post you want on social media, dancing in central park, trying bold new fashion looks, or taking a new route to your destination, creativity doesn’t always have to be choreographing if you’re a dancer or writing songs if you’re a singer. Creativity and trust are the biggest things I am learning to allow myself to do this year.

I recently saw this TikTok of a woman who is an actor, and she said that what helps her nerves before going on stage or performing is saying “I’ll Play.” She says it because it tricks her mind into not being scared and to herself to make bold choices. I loved it because as a child you have that element of play for the sake of play and joy. Versus now when we feel so much is at stake, we add stress, anxiety and even stage fright to our craft. Even though she is specifically referring to acting, I think anyone can use it in any practice of their life. It’s time to play!

When it comes to my personal city survival tips, I have a couple:

In Conclusion

Gosh, this year flew by. It’s crazy to believe when I first moved to NYC a year ago I had one very specific goal with my career, and it involved only modern dance.

Then, because of the Ann Reinking Scholarship, it made me realize I have always wanted to pursue other forms of dance like jazz.

I never thought it could be a possibility until I had the most special opportunity given to me.

As challenging as someone’s first year in New York can be, I’m grateful I spent mine feeling inspired! 

I remember starting my year at Steps and taking a theater dance class with my character heels and I felt so behind! I thought to myself, why does dancing in heels feel so different? I did not feel stable at all. Fast forward to the end of my year at Steps and I feel strong and confident dancing in my heels and dancing commercial/theater styles. A year ago when I started private voice sessions I did not feel strong enough to call myself a dancer singer, but now I happily say I’m a dancer singer!

I feel like a completely different artist than I was, and I’m beyond excited to keep evolving. I feel determined and ready with open arms to new opportunities that will come my way. 

At first, I felt mostly sad that my year as the winner was over because I put pressure on myself to accomplish more before it ended. Truthfully, now is where the journey really begins. 

I thought of Roxie in Chicago and, of course, Annie’s voice in “Nowadays” when she says, “gone…it’s all gone!” But luckily, “It’s good, isn’t it grand? Isn’t it great? Isn’t it swell? Isn’t fun? Isn’t it? Nowadays.”

It’s been an honor to be the Inaugural Ann Reinking Scholarship Winner and I appreciate the love and support from those who have taken the time to read my blog posts. Till next time (:


Vivianna DeSantiago