Carrie Imler's Tips for Tackling Balanchine

Imler in Balanchine's Symphony in C. Photo by Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.

Pacific Northwest Ballet's season opener also marks principal Carrie Imler's return to the stage after becoming a new mom. Pointe spoke with her about reprising the principal role in the first movement of Balanchine's dazzling Symphony in C.

 

How would you describe the ballet to someone who's never seen it before?

It's beautiful. It's so classical with its white tutus. It's almost what every little girl would imagine ballet as. You know, tutus, pink tights, lots of girls onstage. This is that.

 

What’s it like returning to something that you danced years ago?

Well, I’m just coming back from pregnancy leave, so that’s put an interesting aspect on it. But it’s amazing how quickly things that are stored in your brain come back as a dancer. I was really worried about the preparation time for it, having been off over a year, so I started working on it a little early while the company was at Jacob’s Pillow this summer.

 

Do you have a favorite part of the ballet?

I love our first movement in general. I just think it’s so beautiful. The funny thing is it was not a part that I ever thought of myself in. The last time we did the ballet, I also did third movement, which is lots of jumps and more my style, like the physical roles that I do so much. When I was cast for first movement, I was kind of shocked. It’s nice to work on something that’s not your typical, fast petit allégro and footwork. It’s great to know that I don’t have to be known just for my jumps.

 

What about the technical aspect of the work?

Symphony in C is a very technical ballet. But last time we did it, I think I was trying to be so precise that it lacked feeling. I'm working on making it more fluid and being more expressive with my upper body and arms.

 

Balanchine is known for his musicality. What's your approach?

Musicality is a big, big thing for me. I think it really can ruin the ballet if you're not on the music. There's always a little bit of play, especially as a principal, with how you interpret it, but I'd tell dancers to listen to the music and think about how the steps fit with it. With Balanchine, they just do.

 

See PNB in performance, Sept. 23-Oct. 2, in its Tricolore program, featuring Symphony in C and Benjamin Millepied's 3 Movements and Appassionata. Plus, catch a live-stream of Millepied rehearsing the company tonight, Sept. 21, at 6:30 pm PST.

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