Reverence: Elegant Intensity

What does it take to be a successful leading ballerina?
It’s more than just dancing at a higher level. You have to remember it’s not only about you, even if you’re in the spotlight. You must share yourself with the whole company. You gather that energy so they’re involved with you, so there’s a dialogue. Then it becomes more real and exciting for the audience.

Is there anything about your body you’d change?
Basically I’m pretty happy, except I’m quite tall and it’s been a challenge to find the right partners. I’d hoped to dance Cranko’s The Taming of the Shrew. Reid Anderson was staging it. He told me, “I love your dancing. I love your acting. But the way some of the pas de deux are choreographed, it would just be impossible.”

Do you have a dance idol?

Sylvie Guillem. She has a great sense of ease when she dances. I’d seen her dance in classical works before, but when I first saw her in a contemporary piece in my teens, she almost looked like a different dancer. Every movement, although abstract, made sense.


Any special pointe shoe tips?
I sew a yarn semi-circle around the front edge of the toe so that I don’t go over my shoes too far.

What’s your favorite relaxation?
I love cooking. When I’m at a restaurant and order something delicious I try to figure out the flavors. I go home and see if I can make it. But I don’t use recipes. That’s why I can’t bake.

Any private indulgences?
I have a weakness for handbags. I have quite a collection. My husband will ask, “You got a new bag?” and I’ll say, “No, I’ve had it a while. It’s just that you’ve never seen it before.”

How did becoming a mother affect your dancing?
Taking time off to have my daughter Ava, who’s now six, gave me a chance to reflect. It made me realize just how precious dancing is to me. Being a mom, having that responsibility, has made me more mature and true to myself as a ballerina.


 

Latest Posts


Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Tatiana Melendez Proves There's No One Way to Have a Ballet Career

This is Pointe's Fall 2020 cover story. Click here to purchase this issue.

Talk to anyone about rising contemporary ballerina Tatiana Melendez, and one word is bound to come up repeatedly: "Fierce." And fair enough, that's a perfectly apt way to describe the 20-year-old's stage presence, her technical prowess and her determination to succeed. But don't make the mistake of assuming that fierceness is Melendez's only (or even her most noteworthy) quality. At the core of her dancing is a beautiful versatility. She's just as much at ease when etching pure classical lines as she is when boldly throwing herself off-balance.

"Selfish choreographer that I am, I want Tatiana to stay with Complexions for all time," says her boss Dwight Rhoden, Complexions Contemporary Ballet's co-artistic director and resident choreographer. "She has a theatricality about her: When the music comes on, she gets swept away." Not too shabby for someone who thought just a few years ago that maybe ballet wasn't for her.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

The Anatomy of Arabesque: Why Placement and Turnout Are Key to Achieving This Crucial Position

Audition for any school or company, and they'll likely ask for a photo in arabesque. The position not only reveals a great deal about a dancer's ability, but it is also a fundamental building block for more advanced movements, like penché or arabesque turn. Beyond technique, it can be the epitome of grace and elegance onstage, creating unforgettable images—just try to imagine Swan Lake or Balanchine's Serenade without an arabesque.

Yet many dancers are unsatisfied with their arabesque lines, and students frequently ask how to improve their extensions. (Social media posts of dancers with extreme flexibility don't help!) In an attempt to lift the back leg higher, dancers may sacrifice placement and unknowingly distort their position in the process. How can you improve the height of your back leg while maintaining proper placement and turnout? We talked to a few experts to better understand the science behind this step.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

#TBT: Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Coppélia" (1976)

Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov share the unique experience of having danced at both American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet during their careers. The two overlapped at ABT in the mid-'70s, where they developed one of the best-known partnerships in ballet. They were both celebrated for their dynamism onstage; however, in this 1976 clip of the pas de deux from Coppélia, Kirkland and Baryshnikov prove they are also masters of control.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks