Broadway is a long way from Washington County, but Forest Lake native Kourtni Lind always knew that's where she'd end up.
Lind landed a key role in the rock musical "Spiderman: Turn off the Dark" in December and has been performing since on Broadway -- her dream since she was 3 years old and dancing in her mother's dance studio.
"I actually was not really good," Lind said, recalling her early years dancing. "It wasn't until I hit my growth spurt and figured out how my body worked that it all clicked. I realized it was what I was meant to do, and I've always loved it."
Lind's mother, Robin Lind, owner of Dance Tech Studio in Forest Lake, admitted she tried to steer her daughter toward sports and not the arts world.
"She hadn't grown into her body yet, but she did do well in sports. She just wasn't very flexible. ... But she just loved to dance!"
Danielle Napoli, a lifelong friend who took dancing with Lind, remembered Lind's lack of flexibility, but she also remembered a strong work ethic and a will to practice.
"Yes, she wasn't the most flexible at that time," said Napoli, "but look at her now. She's Gumby woman. I never doubted that she could do it.
"When Kourtni makes up her mind to do it, she can pretty much accomplish anything."
The entertainment business can be a challenging one. Lind said she really started to focus on dance as a career once she hit high school.
She had attended junior high and most of senior high in Forest Lake, but spent her senior year at the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts. After graduating and moving to Los Angeles, Lind participated in the nationally broadcast reality show, "So you think you can dance?" and was booked on the "Wicked" tour. But she knew New York was the place she needed to be.
Lind toured with "Wicked" for 2010, but then made the decision to leave.
"I chose to leave so I could move to New York," she recalled. "I left around the holidays and moved to New York on Dec. 28th of 2010."
She cleared her calendar for auditions. When the "Spiderman: Turn off the Dark" audition came around, she was ready. It was a two-day process, involving dancing first, then returning to sing.
"I had a great feeling that I had gotten it," Lind said. "The call from my agent came in around 10:30 in the morning, and it was such the stereotypical thing. ... They put me on speaker phone and told me the news and we were all screaming and crying."
The rock musical has become infamous in New York City due to problems with its budget and struggles with injuries and safety issues. But it seems to have hit its stride, recently having sellout shows and strong reviews.
About 80 percent of the cast has stuck with the production, and Lind, 22, is the youngest cast member.
"Everybody is from all over the place. It's so cool that way," said Lind, "We have people from Chicago, Michigan and Iowa. I think I'm the only Minnesotan, though."
The work schedule is grueling -- they do eight shows a week and have Mondays off.
Lind said the Broadway schedule makes it tough to come home for visits. "It was Minnesota State Fair time last year when I was last home," she said. "I only get one day a week right now.
"I miss my family all the time," she said, but "I need to be far away to be able to do what I love and make money. I'm very blessed to have that support system in my family."
Kelly Jo McDonnell is a Twin Cities freelance writer.