Food: I love avocados, apples, all types of cheese, homemade ice cream, and sushi
Book:The Art of Possibility by Zander and Zander. The book is actually about leadership, but it’s a great read and has changed the way I look at life (http://www.benjaminzander.com/book/)
Movie: Hmm…if I have to pick just one, I’ll go with Big Fish by Tim Burton
Quotation: “Life forms illogical patterns. It is haphazard and full of beauties which I try to catch as they fly by, for who knows whether any of them will ever return?” -Margot Fonteyn
I also like: “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” -Nelson Henderson
Spot in C’ville: Gotta say the Downtown Mall
Business/Store in C’ville: It’s a close tie between Mudhouse and C’ville Coffee— Charlottesville Ballet is super productive at both of these locations!
NERDY BALLET QUESTIONS
Tell us about your dance background and training:
I fell in love with ballet at the age of four when I started taking a creative movement class in my hometown of Roanoke, VA. I enjoyed everything about it– especially performing and being on stage! I continued my training at my local dance school and was one of those kids that took every single class my studio offered– from tap to jazz to modern to swing dancing (my poor mother paid the “Unlimited” Dance Class rate at my studio). I attended summer intensives at Virginia School of the Arts, American Ballet Theater (both in Alabama and New York), and on scholarship at the Dance Theater of Harlem. When I was growing up, I was always divided between academics and ballet (I was a “Governerd” and went to a Governor’s School for Math, Science, and Technology). As I approached high school, however, I knew that the window of opportunity for a dance career was extremely small. When I was in 11th grade, the ballet studio in my hometown shut down and I was left with nowhere to dance. At that moment it seemed like the most tragic misfortune, but it actually propelled me forward and I chose to move away from home to pursue ballet more seriously. I attended Virginia School of the Arts (VSA) my senior year of high school, which helped set me on a path to a professional ballet company. After graduating, I danced as a trainee with the Richmond Ballet until 2006, but I got injured with a horrible stress fracture and could not walk (much less dance!) for five months. This sort of derailed my dancing (both emotionally and physically), but it was a great time for reflection and helped me rethink my ideals and what I wanted out of the dance world. I had met Sara Jansen (the other Co-Director) at Richmond Ballet and worked with Ariadne Conner (our co-founder and Choreographer in Residence). Our relationship continued through several summer dance projects and I was delighted when they discussed the idea of starting a ballet company. I knew that I would be attending the University of Virginia in 2007 (my grand return to the academic life!) and I kept reinforcing that Charlottesville was the PERFECT home for the new company. Charlottesville Ballet was created in 2007 and I was one of the founding members of the organization. Since then, I’ve taken on leadership roles as a Co-Director and have created ballets for the company, but I still perform and love being on stage!
What genres of dance do you enjoy?
I enjoy any genres of movement in general– from ballet to swing to Thai dance to Bhangra–but I definitely love contemporary ballet movement. I love a dance form that has codified technique and pleasing aesthetic lines, yet has free and abandoned movement.
What kind of pointe shoe do you wear?
After trying every pointe shoe in the world…I admit that I’m a Gaynor Minden girl. (For those of you non-dancers out there, Gaynor Minden is a relatively new patented brand of pointe shoe that’s made of synthetic material instead of the traditional cardboard and glue. Check out this video:
Do you have a favorite ballet:
From the classics, probably Don Quixote or Coppélia, but I also love the contemporary ballet genre. If I had to just pick a favorite, it would be one of Nacho Duato’s works.
His most famous ballet is called Jardi Tancat- on YouTube here:
All of his pieces are so musical and I love his blend of ballet and modern styles. Here’s a clip from Nacho Duato’s Remanso— so simple, yet so brilliant!
I also love Red Angels by the late Ulysses Dove. The ballet is set to the music of one electric violin, played by Mary Rowell of Ethel String Quartet (one of my favorite groups). Check this link to watch a segment from of New York City Ballet performing his piece:
What’s your favorite ballet/dance step:
I really enjoy balancés and I love pirouettes of any kind
Tell us, why do you dance?
It always seems hard for dancers to respond to this question because we can’t imagine why anyone would ask “why.” (As an interesting note: we ask every dancer who auditions for Charlottesville Ballet this exact question to see what their response is!) I fell in love with this art form at a young age and it has really shaped who I am as a person. I didn’t necessarily want to be a ballerina my whole life– at many points I was going to be a doctor or a teacher– but I’ve always come back to dance as my one true “passion”. I love the physicality of the movement and using every bone, muscle, tendon, ligament in my body. I feel like dancing is the most natural way for me to express what I’m feeling. I love hearing music and interpreting it, almost “becoming the music.” I also love the challenge and the discipline of ballet as an art form. You know those stupid inspirational quotes that say “life is too short” or “live your passion”– every time I read one of those I feel like it’s a pat on the back for all of my work with Charlottesville Ballet. The famous Harvey Mackay quote also speaks to me: “Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
What other jobs/activities/academic pursuits are you involved in? Haha- too many to name! In addition to being the Co-Director of Charlottesville Ballet, I am also a full time student at the University of Virginia, where I am pursuing an interdisciplinary degree in Non-Profit Management and Arts Administration. I also teach ballet at The Dance Barn studio in Stanardsville, VA, where I get to share the joy of dance with young students every week! Unlike most directors of ballet companies, both Sara Jansen and I are still dancing and actively performing in addition to running the business side of C-ville Ballet, so we’re always balancing the administrative tasks of running a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the tasks of being a “ballerina.” I also choreograph for the company and direct our null productions. Last year I created a 45-minute, interactive ballet called A Fairy Tale Gathering, which premiered to sold-out houses in Charlottesville. We took the ballet on tour to Lynchburg, VA in October and the company will be performing it again this February in C-ville. All of these various roles are sometimes a lot to handle (most people chose one or two at a time!)– being a full-time student, running a nonprofit organization, creating children’s ballets, teaching at a studio, and performing with the professional company– but I absolutely love what I do and cannot believe what progress Charlottesville Ballet has made over the past two seasons!
What other talents or passions do you have? I play the violin (less than I’d like to these days) and I love cooking and entertaining. I also love sewing and making ballet costumes– my mother and I create many of the costumes for C-ville Ballet. I enjoy writing (both creative and administrative) and have sometimes been accused of being a “grammar Nazi.” I recently learned how to do HTML coding (I’m the Charlottesville Ballet webmaster), which totally appeals to my left-brain, engineering side. (PS- if you ever see typos or errors on the website, please shoot me an e-mail: [email protected] !)
Anything else you’d like to express: I hope that our “Meet the Artist” blogs are enjoyable and help you get to know the beautiful dancers of Charlottesville Ballet! The company’s next performances are Saturday 2/12 and Sunday 2/13– come see A Fairy Tale Gathering and the null!!