Jennifer Lauren's Balanchine Secrets

Each summer, dance companies descend upon the Windy City for the Chicago Dancing Festival. But this year's event is extra special, since Miami City Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will be making their debuts. Pointe spoke with MCB's recently promoted principal soloist Jennifer Lauren as she prepared to dance in the corps of Balanchine's Allegro Brillante.

Allegro Brillante is a notoriously fast and difficult ballet. What is your approach?
We all realize what a privilege it is to do any of George Balanchine's ballets, especially Allegro. That pumps me up for the beginning--the curtain rises while we're already dancing. You just get shot out of a cannon. I try not to let the physicality of the steps and how fast it is get to me. If you just let it happen, it's hard to get distracted by how tired you are. When I look over at my friend or my partner and see that they're having a wonderful time, it's very uplifting. We encourage each other with our eyes.

Which roles would you like to dance in the future?
I have to say all of them. Whatever rehearsal I'm called to, that's my favorite part at the moment. Whether I'm in one of the four couples in Allegro or I'm the principal in some other ballet, it's the same satisfying feeling. If I had to name some roles, I would love to do the principal lady in Balanchine's La Source, "Rubies," the principal in Theme and Variations and anything by Justin Peck. I've already done Aurora and Giselle, but if we ever brought those back I would love, love, love to do them again.

What advice would you offer for dancers who are new to Balanchine?
I used to dance with the Alabama Ballet, which is a classical company, so when I moved to Miami, I had to make that transition. Having an open mind is definitely number one. Whenever an exercise would come up, I'd ask myself, Why is this important? And I'd apply it to the Balanchine choreography. That helped me understand why the technique is so different. Also, don't lose what you had before; just add to your technique and then you'll be a more well-rounded dancer.
Lauren in Balanchine's Raymonda Variations. Photo by Daniel Azoulay, Courtesy MCB.
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