Dancer and actress Sasha Hollinger, BFA Dance ’09, is playing an important element of history in the Tony and Grammy award-winning Broadway musical, Hamilton.
“I play the bullet that shot Alexander Hamilton,” says Hollinger. “The moment when I become the bullet is essentially a moment frozen in time. I make my way across the stage very slowly while Hamilton is speaking, basically all of the thoughts going through his head in this last second of his life.”
As a part of the ensemble she’s also on stage for most of the 46+ songs in the three-hour show, dancing and singing as part of the story.
Being in a production that’s won 11 Tonys and one Grammy means there is pressure to have a seamless transition, says Hollinger, whose first performance was July 11.
This spring, Hollinger was offered a chance to attend a Hamilton “boot camp”—a nine-day clinic in which dancers are assigned a certain role and learn the musical numbers associated with that role. She was assigned the role of “the bullet,” which helped her land the actual role.
“It was definitely a new [audition] process,” she says. “It wasn’t an open call or an invited call where there would be cuts.”
Hollinger says the opportunity was perfectly timed because she’d just returned to dancing after a year on disability. She’d injured her shoulder at the last rehearsal before the first performance of a touring show. She continued to perform despite the injury and believes that probably worsened it.
“Growing up training as a dancer you have the mindset that if you’re not dying and the limb isn’t falling off, you go dance,” she says. “That was a lesson, too, I needed to listen to my body. That’s actually something I learned at Mason—knowing the difference between something you can and can’t push through.”
Having professors who worked in the industry meant she knew what New York was going to be like before moving there right after graduation with a classmate from Mason’s School of Dance.
Between her parents’ saving for her education and the Friends of Dance scholarship she received, she exited college with no student loan debt, which made surviving in the city easier.
“Some [dancers] just move to New York. I’m happy I listened to my mom and went to school first,” she says.
Performing in Hamilton will continue to open doors for her, Hollinger says.
“If people see Hamilton on your resume, they are going to keep their eye on you.”