For American audiences, Balanchine's "Rubies" is instantly recognizable. Cuban audiences, though, have never seen the iconic work, due to over five decades of severed diplomatic relations with the U.S. That will change this Sunday, when Beckanne Sisk and fellow Ballet West principal Christopher Ruud perform the saucy, showy "Rubies" pas de deux at the International Ballet Festival of Havana gala. Pointe spoke with Sisk about making dance history.
You're no stranger to galas, but do they make you nervous?
It's not a whole production, so I feel a lot of pressure to do well in those nine minutes. But it's also very exciting. I feel comfortable with "Rubies," and I'm so honored to be the first to dance it in Cuba.
How do you think the audience will receive this pas?
I feel like this is the perfect pas de deux to take because they love exciting dancing. This pas has a whole lot of everything in it!
How does "Rubies" continue to challenge you?
I'm learning to be able to throw myself and do all these crazy things while keeping the technique. I have to be poised and together in my core while throwing my limbs, so I'm finding that balance.
What do you like about the role?
There are no limits. It's all just power and go, go, go—there are no rest steps, and you do everything to the fullest. It's very showy, but it's all fun, feel-good steps.
Besides performing, what else are you looking forward to doing in Cuba?
I've never been to Cuba, so we're gonna try and do some touristy things. I'd like to see some cool cars, and the food—I can't wait to try the food! We'll also get to take company class [with the National Ballet of Cuba]. I'm really, really excited about that.