2. Where did you train/dance before coming to Colorado Ballet? I received my early training at the Ballet Academy of Texas under the direction of Lisa Slagle, Tom Nicholson and Jenny Johnston. After graduating high school, I joined Tulsa Ballet II where I stayed for two seasons. Next, I moved to Sarasota, Florida to dance with Sarasota Ballet under the direction of Iain Webb. I performed with the Sarasota Ballet for five seasons until I moved here to Denver to join the Colorado Ballet.
3. What did you do with your summer break? The word that comes to my mind when I think about my summer break is "transition." I spent the summer at home in Texas with my family as I prepared to make the big move to Denver. It's a heavy thing to leave a place that you've lived in for five years. I have so many wonderful friends and memories of my time in Florida, so it was both exciting and difficult to leave. It was great to spend time in Texas to mentally transition and gear up for the next chapter in my life. There's something about home that reminds you of who you are, and I believe that before a big life change it's important to remember that. I was poured into by many close friends and my parents which I'm incredibly grateful for! Aside from preparing for the move, I kept myself in shape by taking ballet and yoga classes every day. I also taught ballet to little ones quite a bit- that's always fun!
4. What age did you first start dancing? What do you remember from your first class? I took my first ballet class when I was five years old. I wish I remembered it, but I don't. My mom tells me that she first took me to a gymnastics class, and I insisted that I wear a tutu to that class. I did! The gymnastics teacher came out after and told my mom to put me in ballet!
5. Who are your ballet role models? Dancers that inspire you. Kelly Yankle. I met and danced alongside of Kelly in Sarasota. She taught me so much. Not only is Kelly a beautiful dancer, but she's a beautiful person. Kelly took me under her wing, so to say, and coached me from the inside out. She immediately recognized my battle with fear and made it her goal to battle alongside with me. Kelly constantly reminded me to be bold and to not apologize for who I am no matter what. I saw that fearlessness in her dancing, and it's something I want to be someday. I strive to be the bold and tenacious, yet gracious dancer and person that Kelly embodies.
6. Proudest moment in your ballet career? Goodness, that's a hard one! I just think of many times that I've been overwhelmed with gratitude over the opportunity that I've been given to do what I love. I remember coming off stage after performing a pas de deux choreographed by Sarasota Ballet Soloist Alex Harrison called The Blue Hour, in which I was partnered by Ian Tanzer. We had one shot at this difficult pas de deux, and we did it. We had the most beautiful and emotional time on stage, and we both left feeling so grateful for that chance! Another proud moment was after performing Ashton's Monotones II with Juan Gil and Daniel Pratt. That ballet is all about partnership and teamwork between the three dancers, and when you do it, you feel such a sense of gratitude for your partners...and their patience haha!!
7. Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher? I'm going to twist this one a bit and use a teacher, but not a ballet teacher- my father. I admit that I struggle with intimidation a lot in the studio. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a flashy technician. I'm not the strongest, but I love to dance. I love to perform. I want to tell a story, my story, and it's my aim in this profession to convey a message to the audience and leave them wanting more of the story. That being said, my dad (who knows me well, right?) told me this one time, and it's stuck with me ever since...it was before a performance. He said, "Em, don't dance to not mess up. Dance to give your gift to the audience. If you dance in fear, you are withholding and hiding. Give yourself freely and confidently. Don't withhold. Give." My heart is full of a story that I want to share with the audience, and I'm continually learning to give and to not withhold. We've been entrusted with a gift- and everyone's gift is different- but it's a shame to hide that gift just because you're afraid of being rejected or of failing. Thanks, Dad :)
8. Favorite ballets to dance? Which are favorite to watch? Three ballets immediately came to my mind, and they're all made by George Balanchine : Who Cares?, Diamonds, and Serenade. I found such freedom in performing all three of these ballets. I was one of the 5 girls in Who Cares? and I had SO much fun. The 5 girls part is incredibly hard, but it was a joy to dance because the movement was cute and playful, and who doesn't love a good Gershwin score?!? Diamonds holds a very special place in my heart because while we were learning and performing this ballet, I really came to know who I am. We live environment that can easily steal our identity as women and point out all of our flaws, and Diamonds reminded me of my worth. Despite my imperfections, I'm a priceless and rare creation of God- like a diamond. I was challenged to remember that. Last, Serenade. I've yet to meet a girl who doesn't love this ballet! The music alone is enough to make one cry. I found my own personal story in the four movements of Serenade, so performing it felt like I was out there giving a testimony through my way of speaking- dancing.
9. Dream role? Definitely Juliet Capulet. I love to act, and her role is so raw with emotion.
10. What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)? Well, there's lots of things I enjoy doing. I really enjoy taking yoga classes after work every day. I also love spending time alone digging into the Bible. I'm a believer in Jesus Christ, and I love learning more and more about biblical history and diving into the text. So I'm a bit of a book nerd in that sense! I also have some dear friends that live here in the Denver area, and I love spending time with them when I can. I'm always one for a good heart to heart conversation- I'm fueled by those deep friendships! I'm also a big shopper, so I try to keep myself out of the stores :)
11. What are some of your indulgences? Oh dear, this is a dangerous question! The earlier question about free time brought up my love of shopping. When it comes to shopping indulgences, I'll admit that I'm a Lululemon addict. When it comes to food, everyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE peanut butter. If you give me a jar of peanut butter, I'll gladly indulge :)
12. Do you have any pre-performance routines/rituals? I gain my inspiration and confidence from my faith in Jesus Christ. Before a show, I will usually spend some time in the Bible getting strength from His promises. You can find me with my ipod in and turned up with a playlist of encouraging music to get my heart and head in the right place. Then, you can usually find me taking in a spoonful of peanut butter before hitting the stage :)
13. What production(s) are you most excited about this year? Considering that my favorite ballets are all Balanchine, I'm excited about Concerto Barocco. Concerto is definitely different that the three ballets that I mentioned earlier, but I'm looking forward to the challenge. I've never performed a Balanchine ballet that I didn't fall in love with and many of them have pushed me outside of my comfort zone.