Westchester County Dedicates a Day to This Broadway Performer

Paige Fraser-Hoffman has been honored with her own day for advocacy work and an extensive dancing career in Westchester County.

On May 11, Westchester County celebrates Paige Fraser-Hoffman Day. How does someone achieve the honor of having a day dedicated to them in the 914, you might ask? For starters, you’ll need a nearly three-decade-long dance career fueled by advocacy, awareness, and standout performances.

Paige Fraser-Hoffman, the woman behind the occasion, recently revisited Tarrytown Music Hall, the place where it all began for her, to pay homage to her award and reflect on the genesis of her decorated career.

In 2023, Fraser-Hoffman was the recipient of the Barbara M. Simpson Memorial Scholarship Community Service Award from Westchester County for her committed and dedicated service. While she wasn’t present to receive the award, her mom and husband received it on her behalf.

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Fraser-Hoffman was raised in the Bronx and attended Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) in the village of Pelham Manor. Two blocks down from the catholic school sat a performance-based dance academy that held both intimate and community-wide performances of well-known titles such as Romeo & Juliet, Coppelia, and The Nutcracker. The now-closed Ballet Atlantic Academy was founded by a School of American Ballet trained dancer named Leslie Otto.

award
Justin Reid Photography

In the academy, Fraser-Hoffman blossomed from a five-year-old who skipped around the dance floor giggling with newly-made friends sporting delicate tutus to a driven 13-year-old with a vision for her future. In this classroom, Otto instilled a sense of integrity and grit into Fraser that she’s carried with her through multiple dance companies and cities.

During this time of revelation, Fraser-Hoffman was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 13. Conversations about undergoing surgery lingered in the back of her mind during a pivotal moment in her life while starting high school. Ultimately, Fraser and her family decided it would be best to see how the scoliosis progressed, taking surgery off the table, and incorporating chiropractor appointments and massages.

“I’m so thankful that I have dance in my life because even with misalignment in my body, dance has always helped me find center,” says Fraser-Hoffman. Even today, she notes, “my scoliosis is very much there, and my body doesn’t move like the next person, but it doesn’t hinder me.”

Paige
Photo courtesy of Paige Fraser-Hoffman

Once her time at OLPH came to an end, Fraser-Hoffman continued her dance journey at the Professional Performing Arts High School in Manhattan. She only grew from there, graduating from the Fordham University/Alvin Ailey BFA program Cum Laude in 2012. Post-graduation, she was selected by Alvin II, a company that handpicked only 12 dancers from the university.

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Fraser-Hoffman had the opportunity to tour domestically and internationally, eventually landing in Chicago with a new company, Visceral. While performing in the Windy City, Fraser won the Princess Grace Award for Dance in 2016 and was recognized as one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2017.

“It was like all of those late hours, all that time pushing through and trying to grow has paid off,” says Fraser-Hoffman about signing her first dancing contract.

During the years of compiling her resume and tirelessly pursuing her dreams while steadfastly advocating for dancers facing physical challenges, Fraser-Hoffman credits her mentors, teachers, and family for their guidance and support.

Back in 2000, it wasn’t nine-year-old Fraser-Hoffman’s first time hitting the stage at the Tarrytown Music Hall. However, it was the first time she, a young African American girl in a predominately white dancing academy, stepped out as the lead. Otto, the director at the time, clocked Fraser’s skills over the previous four years at the academy while she played the baby mouse and toy soldiers that decorate The Nutcracker scenes. She proceeded to play Clara for the following two years at the Music Hall.

Nut Cracker
Ballet Atlantic Academy (LeslieOtto)

“I had a responsibility; my teacher was counting on me. And I think it was the time I realized I really wanted to pursue dance as a profession,” says Fraser-Hoffman. She adds, “My teacher saw my potential, and I really owe a lot to her. That takes guts.”

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This year, the Broadway performer has returned to the Tarrytown stage for the first time since she was 13.

“It’s much smaller than I remember,” she observes as she reflects fondly on memories of her and her playmates scurrying backstage, waiting for their cues, and stepping into the glistening spotlight. The 843-seat theater was a different world for the young performers during those days.

“I always reflect back to when I was cast as Clara,” she shares. “That was the turning point for me. A light bulb went off, even though I was young, [and] it felt good to know someone believed in me.”

paige fraser
Justin Reid Photography

Now, the capacity of the theaters Fraser-Hoffman occupies has nearly tripled. The Minskoff Theatre in New York City is where she spends six days of the week performing eight shows on Broadway for The Lion King. While she’s not performing in the enthralling six Tony Award-winning Broadway show, she’s pursuing her online master’s in arts and culture advocacy, which was ultimately inspired by her aunt’s endeavors.

Fraser-Hoffman’s aunt, Lesmah J. Fraser, MPS, founded The Paige Fraser Foundation in 2017 to support local communities. The foundation and its members provide access to resources for cultural enrichment and promotion of health and wellness through programs, workshops, and financial support for those both physically challenged and able. Fraser-Hoffman sits as the Chief Artistic Officer and Program Director of Dance.

Even as Fraser-Hoffman pursues her career and education, she continues to be an advocate for the arts and for those with physical challenges. It’s something she plans to continue even after the curtains close on her dancing career.

So in that spirit, here’s to embracing dreams, facing down challenges, and celebrating Paige Fraser-Hoffman Day in Westchester.

lion king
Photo courtesy of Paige Fraser-Hoffman

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