The Student News Site of Marymount Manhattan College

The Monitor

The Student News Site of Marymount Manhattan College

The Monitor

The Student News Site of Marymount Manhattan College

The Monitor

The Side Hustle: One Dancer’s Juggle to Make Her Dream Come True

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     It’s  6:30 a.m. in New York City,  and Elisabeth “EB” Bernice Keime, is on her way out to catch the train. She is wearing her newest dancewear, a brown asymmetrical sports bra, and a matching pair of leggings sewn by her mother. She does yoga for an hour at a local studio, and by 8:00 a.m., she is at Marymount Manhattan College for her ballet and jazz classes. Keime, 20, runs from a full day of classes for her BFA in dance to a fashion show rehearsal in Hell’s Kitchen, where she changes into glittery five-inch heels. At 8:00 p.m., she is walking down the runway in a multipurpose “church” to bring awareness to ending child trafficking for an audience of seven. 


     One week later, at lunchtime, Keime is on the subway, halfway to the Bronx, wondering if she should have cut her nails before an HBO hand modeling gig. Later that day, while performing her daily duties as the Vice President of HeartCharged, a company that brings awareness to undiagnosed heart conditions, she receives an email from the show producer asking if she wants to come back the following afternoon and be a body double. She replies yes. She then switches to her role as Resident Assistant at Marymount dorms and starts knocking on her residents’ doors for her weekly check-ins.  


“I was born to entertain,” says Keime– and this drive is what pushes her to keep hustling. It’s all in the name of the dream. Someday, Keime will perform on a Broadway stage. Someday, she’ll attribute that success to the work now.  It’s a long road though, and Keime knows that to reach the end, she must fund the effort. Thus, she juggles jobs to make ends meet. 


     According to Forbes Advisor, New York has the fourth-highest cost of living nationwide. Here at Marymount, 60% of students pay approximately $60,700 a year for tuition, standard fees, and housing. Though Marymount, a private institution, does not offer in-state tuition, it’s worth noting that the 60% of students mentioned come from out of state. Thus, that price does not account for transportation which equals about $7,500 a year, or any other costs such as food and textbooks. 

     Overall, it’s a lot to pay out-of-pocket. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 2.9% CPI increase over the year, signaling an increase in inflation. Prices are preposterously high. In order to survive, students like Keime need to compensate however they can. 


Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Keime has been a performer her entire life. Her first debut was at age four where she was an angel in The Nutcracker. Keime, the youngest of nine siblings, is from a family of dancers. Growing up, she constantly watched her brother and sisters in the studio. Keime attributes these fond memories to her inspiration today, describing herself as coming from a very ‘homey’ family. Her mother, who used to be a preschool teacher, likes to make her dancewear and other pieces such as flowy skirts and church dresses. 


During her elementary years, Keime participated in magnet programs that allowed students to pursue the arts during their 8-hour school days. This program, Keime says, contributed to her love for dance and acting as it gave her an outlet to express herself through more than just words. In the course of her middle school years, she was homeschooled, giving way to more time spent at the studio.  


While at Dance Empire, Keime says she was less supported and more scrutinized because she was from a lower-income family. It was not until she switched over to her brother’s studio in eighth grade that she began to rediscover her passion for dance. This retrieval stayed with her through her high school years, where she continued to enhance her dance skills. 


After high school, Keime thought that going to college in New York City would be the easiest and cheapest way to achieve her dream. “New York real estate is disgustingly expensive,” she goes on, “dorming as an RA takes care of that expense for the time being.” Keime came to the city because she thought New York was the hub for it all, offering “constant inspiration,” making the costs somewhat more bearable.  


Keime is a self-proclaimed “expert finesser” and wants the world to know it. The performer has many obscure jobs under her belt, like hand modeling for an HBO show, dancing at various nightclubs like Little Sister, and walking shady runways for PimComedy’s fashion show. She knows that these various opportunities are also great resume builders. For example, her time as a Hell’s Kitchen runway model was meant to be used as volunteer experience to look good when she applied for other jobs. She sums up her time on PimComedy’s runway as “a little culty and really weird.” She had arrived with zero expectations of what the night would bring and left knowing she would never apply for an unpaid job again. 


In between jobs, Keime browses sites such as Casting Networks, sometimes sending in a headshot per request, hoping it gets picked out of the hundred others submitted. This was how she got the HBO gig, which was paid and provided her with “unmeasurable inspiration”. She worked as a hand model and was called back to be a body double later that week, earning her $1,000 in just four days.  


Keime loves the thrill of New York City, “It’s like that moment when you’re walking down a street and suddenly falling into a single file line where everyone’s at the same pace as you,” she says, “you’re not even trying to walk fast but the city is moving and guiding you.” In the whirlwind of the city’s relentless pace, Keime finds her rhythm, working her way up to her Broadway dream one job at a time. 

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