Rebecca Chandler is the daughter of Wanda and Terry Chandler of Vance, Ala.. She has a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from the University of Southern Mississippi. She is the owner, instructor and choreographer at Hattiesburg Ballroom and Beyond, and the creator, producer and choreographer for Hattiesburlesque. She is also the head coach of the Southern Misses dance team.
What is your idea of happiness?
Living and working in a thriving Downtown Hattiesburg. There's something magical about the people, artists, and businesses that make up our community.
What is your greatest fear?
As a child my greatest fear was tornadoes, I thought I had outgrown it,but it has definitely resurfaced in light of recent events here in town.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My lack of organization (although it's gotten much better as I've gotten older) and my tendency to procrastinate.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
I have a hard time dealing with people who refuse to take responsibility for their actions. I also don't mesh well with people who can't disagree in a rationalway. It's been my experience that those qualities sometimes go hand in hand.
What is your most prized possession?
It's not so much one thing as a collection of things that were made for me, or souvenirs of happy times, like my signed Hattiesburlesque poster from the very first show we ever did.
Which talent would you most like to have?
My secret (not so much now) dream has always been to be able to get onstage and kill it at karaoke. Or cook something delicious without using a recipe.
What is your favorite quality in a woman?
Fearlessness, and being supportive of other women.
What is your favorite quality in a man?
Chivalry and high emotional intelligence.
What do you most value in your friends?
My friends are spaced out all over the Southeast and we all have the ability to pick up where we left off if we haven't talked for a while. Our group texts are one of my favorite things.
What is your idea of misery?
I have somewhat of a routine now, but with my job all of my days are different. I think having a strict 9-5 job with a rigid schedule would make me feel suffocated.
Who is your favorite fictional hero?
Leslie Knope and Tami Taylor – thoughtful, smart, strong women who are in charge.
Who are your heroes in real life?
My mom. She can do literally anything...sewing, cooking, gardening, reupholstering furniture, wielding power tools, and owning/running a restaurant/bar for over 30 years. And anyone who is working, living, teaching, and advocating for the arts.
What was the worst day of your life?
I honestly haven't had it yet, there have been lots of bad days, but nothing that really qualifies as the "worst" in the grand scheme of things.
What was the happiest day of your life?
The very first Hattiesburlesque show. People think it's just a show, but it's so much more than that. It was a years long dream that was finally brought to fruition, and it changed the lives of all involved and continues to do so 3 years later. Every day I'm thankful for the response to it. It's my favorite thing I've ever done.
What is one thing that most people don't know about you?
I collect antique glassware. Indiana Glass Diamond Point is my pattern. I'm also obsessed with traditions and stories of the Deep South.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love to read anything about living in the South. I was late to the Harry Potter craze. I read all the books just this year. J.K. Rowling is my guilty pleasure.
Besides the Pine Belt, where's your favorite place to be?
I love to be on the beach. To be more specific, Gulf Shores. It's where I've spent most vacations since I was a child, and I feel really at home there. New Orleans runs a close second, the history of the city as well as the thriving arts community makes it irresistible. It doesn't hurt that both of those places also have phenomenal food.
What do you hate the most?
The idea that the arts aren't important or relevant. THE ARTS CHANGE LIVES.
How would you like to die?
In my sleep surrounded by my family and friends, preferably after a night of social dancing or an unforgettable performance. I want my life celebrated with a huge party with lots of music, dancing, and food with performances by all of my artist friends.
What is your greatest regret?
Not applying myself in school as much as I could have. I wasn't a great student, but I got by and I had a lot of fun doing it.
If you could have dinner with anyone - dead or alive - who would it be?
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ryan Murphy, Lady GaGa, Bob Fosse. It would be like a congress of creative genius. Of course I would record it all, my mind would be blown to bits.
What words would people use to describe you?
I crowd sourced for this one....Funny, talented, fancy, sparkly, loud, luxurious, bigger than life, self aware, determined, boss lady (my friends have a way with words.)
What's your present state of mind?
Optimistic with my wheels spinning. I'm full of new ideas for future shows, and ways to bring dance to the forefront of downtown Hattiesburg.
What is your motto?
There's nothing a good dance can't fix.
What would you eat for your last meal?
A salad with garlic cheese dressing and lobster and crabmeat au gratin from The Bright Star in Bessemer, Ala., Chargrilled Oysters from Casamento's on Magazine Street, Steamed Royal Reds and Fried Shrimp from Doc's in Orange Beach, and my mom's Swiss steak and goulash with mashed potatoes. I'd wash it down with a Bloody Mary from the Superdome, a T-Bbones cold brew and a dirty pickled okra martini from the Thirsty Hippo. Dessert would be peanut butter and chocolate ice cream from Baskin-Robbins.