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.

Latest Posts


Left to right: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Daphne Lee, Amanda Smith, Lindsey Donnell and Alexandra Hutchinson in a scene from Dancing Through Harlem. Derek Brockington, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dancers Share Their Key Takeaways After a Year of Dancing on Film

Creating dances specifically for film has become one of the most effective ways that ballet companies have connected with audiences and kept dancers employed during the pandemic. Around the world, dance organizations are finding opportunities through digital seasons, whether conceiving cinematic, site-specific pieces or filming works within a traditional theater. And while there is a consistent sentiment that nothing will ever substitute the thrill of a live show, dancers are embracing this new way of performing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

#TBT: Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Fancy Free" (1981)

In Jerome Robbins's 1944 ballet Fancy Free, three sailors on leave spend the day at a bar, attempting to woo two young women by out-dancing and out-charming one another. In this clip from 1981, Mikhail Baryshnikov, who was then both the artistic director of American Ballet Theatre and a leading performer with the company, pulls out all the stops to win the ladies' affections.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Bethany Kirby, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

An Infectious-Disease Physician on What Vaccines Mean for Ballet

As the coronavirus pandemic grinds into its second year, the toll on ballet companies—and dancers—has been steep. How long before dancers can rehearse and perform as they once did?

Like most things, the return to normal for ballet seems to hinge on vaccinations. Just over 22 percent of people in the U.S. are now vaccinated, a way from the estimated 70 to 85 percent experts believe can bring back something similar to pre-pandemic life.

But what would it mean for 100 percent of a ballet company to be vaccinated? Tulsa Ballet artistic director Marcello Angelini is about to find out—and hopes it brings the return of big ballets on the big stage.

"I don't think companies like ours can survive doing work for eight dancers in masks," Angelini says. "If we want to work, dance, and be in front of an audience consistently and with the large works that pay the bills, immunization is the only road that leads there."

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks