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Choreographing Broadway Shows and Rocking Dog Tote Bags: Ali Solomon

Career:   Choreographer, dancer, and activist
Location:   New York City
Who’s your Fred?  Tink

Choreographing Broadway Shows and Rocking Dog Tote Bags: Ali Solomon 

If Alison Solomon’s name seems familiar, that’s probably because it is: a choreographer of theater, television, and film, she’s part of the dance design in dozens of Broadway shows and popular media. With over 20 years of performance experience, she’s been an Associate on Broadway for the last decade, striving not only to create the best possible choreography in every project she headlines but also to ensure artistic equity and access to dance education for young people. Her theater credits include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Finding Neverland, In the Heights, and more.

But Ali’s impressive résumé represents just one facet of her busy life in New York City. She wears many hats, including being a dog mom to Tink, a Micro Mini English Goldendoodle! 

We were fortunate enough to sit down with these two starlets to discuss everything from Tink’s dog tote bag to which pooch deserves a Tony award.

FRED: It’s great to meet you, Ali! First off, your career has been so full of exciting creative pursuits, but do you have one production in particular that was a favorite to work on?

Ali: Thank you so much! It’s IMPOSSIBLE to choose. As a performer, I absolutely loved being on stage in In the Heights and Finding Neverland. From the creative side, being an assistant choreographer on the NY Giants Dirty Dancing Super Bowl Commercial was pretty epic!

FRED: We love the mantra “art is for everyone,” which you have on your website. Tell us a bit about your focus on ensuring everyone feels like they belong in the arts.

Ali: I have seen the power of art in my own life, but also in so many others’ lives. My mission is to always work in a space where everyone feels welcome and safe. I try to lead with acceptance, an open heart, and an open mind. It’s important to me that everyone feels respected and that they have a voice. 

I find myself working with a lot of nonbinary and transgender performers, so I have paid careful attention to eliminating gendered pronouns/speech from my vocabulary in rehearsal. It’s a simple adjustment that makes everyone feel more comfortable. 

FRED: How did you connect with Tink before adopting her? 

Ali: It was a bit serendipitous, to be honest! I had been thinking about getting a dog for quite some time, but was always worried about my busy schedule and raising a dog on my own. My younger sister and I started going to shelters all around NYC and Long Island looking for a small dog that I could hopefully travel with. 

I wasn’t having much luck, and then I came across a litter being born on Valentine’s Day from someone we vetted and trusted. The timing of when the puppies would be ready for adoption lined up with both my birthday and a break in my work schedule, and little did I know that it would also coincide with the pandemic and a total industry shutdown. I ended up having all the time in the world to care for and train my new pup!

FRED: Living and working in NYC is an absolute dream. Is it tough to be a dog parent in the city? How do you balance it all?

Ali: It can be tough in the sense that I don’t have a backyard, but it has also brought so much joy and connection. I have a wonderful dog community in my building. Tink has a handful of best buds and neighbors, they see her all the time in her dog tote bag, and we all help each other out. 

FRED: It seems like Tink really loves our Weekend Tote—what’s your favorite part of having this dog tote bag on hand for your pup?

Ali: She is OBSESSED. I used a lot of positive reinforcement training with carriers and tote bags. I think she loves the tote because she is close to me, and she can look out and see the world. Tink doesn’t love being fully enclosed, and the Weekender has a cute little spot for her to peek out. I also think she just loves adventure, and when the bag comes out, she jumps right in—ready to go wherever I take her!

I am also plant-based and I live in Brooklyn, so the fact that it is a vegan, made-in-Brooklyn, female-owned brand is awesome!!!

FRED: You’ve shared a little about some recent health concerns with your eyesight. How does it affect your life and work?

Ali: This is such a tricky question to answer concisely. First and foremost, the good news is that my actual vision hasn’t been affected. However, when I have flare-ups I cannot wear my contact lenses. I can’t see/function in my everyday life without contact lenses or glasses. So it often means I have to wear my glasses to work out, to rehearse, etc. and that is less than ideal. 

For starters, the glasses tend to bounce around on your face and even fall off if you are doing athletic movement. Second, you don’t really have full peripheral vision in glasses like you do with contacts—that can be tricky when you are dancing. 

It would be a big challenge if I were on stage full-time because I can’t wear glasses for performances, but I’ve been more focused on choreography projects recently so it’s a little easier to navigate. It’s been incredibly frustrating (and painful) overall because all of the doctors and specialists I’ve seen can’t figure out what is happening or why. It’s cost me quite a lot of time and money, with no answers.

FRED: You’ve also been involved in fundraising for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. What drew you to this organization and why does it mean so much to you?

Ali: I know a lot of women who have been affected by breast cancer. Unfortunately, a childhood friend lost her battle with metastatic breast cancer.

While she was fighting her battle, her motto was “Live the Dash.” She had such a positive outlook and was inspiring to all of us. She worked constantly to change laws and raise awareness for early detection. It means so much to me to continue to fight that fight in honor of her and everyone else who has been affected by the disease. 

FRED: What’s next on your agenda in your career? Do you have any secret projects in the works?

Ali: I do… I guess it’s not quite a secret anymore, but I’m a bit superstitious. I’ve been involved as the choreographer of a brand-new musical that is in development. We head to London in January to continue working on it, and hopefully it will open in the West End (or Broadway) in the next year or two! 

FRED: You and Tink have been together for a few years now—what advice would you give to a pet parent who’s just starting out?

Ali: Patience!! Tink and I have been through a lot of ups and downs—she had a super scary seizure shortly after I adopted her and then we both got attacked by a dog just a few months later. She had multiple surgeries and we had to work through some fear and reactivity after that. But in the end, she is just the most amazing, smart, mushy dog who wants to give and receive love 24/7.

FRED: If you had to summarize Tink in just five adjectives, what would they be? 

Ali: Sassy, Hyper-Focused, Toy-Obsessed, Loveable, Intelligent

FRED: An important final question for Tink… In your professional opinion, what is the best-ever dog performance in theater, television, or film? 

Tink: It hasn’t happened yet, because I haven’t been hired!!! Hint, hint, hint… I’d love to star in one of my mom’s shows, or on TV/film. I love to pose and do tricks and I love people. I’d be a star!

You can keep up with Ali and Tink on Instagram @alisolomonny and @tink_rdoodle! Be sure to snag your own JUST FRED Weekend Tote to tackle pet parenthood in style. 

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