Ballet Stars

Pacific Northwest Ballet Principal Leta Biasucci On Overcoming Rejection

Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

Your teacher at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Marcia Dale Weary, recently passed away. What impact did she have on you?

I feel deeply indebted to her. She shaped my life's course, and I know that were it not for her, I would not be living out my dream today. She led by example through her remarkable commitment to her work, as well as her genuine kindness and generosity.

You were a trainee with San Francisco Ballet. What was that experience like?

It was an exposure to different schools of thought. We were mostly in the full-lengths, and watching run-throughs of Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote was revolutionary for me. But I was young and far away from home. That transition was hard. My body started changing. It wanted to be fleshy. Biology is cruel in that way. I desperately wanted to fit in, but it wasn't meant to be.


Biasucci in David Dawson's Empire Noir

Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

How did you handle not getting into the company?

It made me question: "If I'm not good enough here, am I good enough for somewhere else?" It was difficult to keep working hard, and to cope and move forward. I vacillated between "This is me, this is my body—take it or leave it" and "Well, I need to fix it. How can I fix it?" From there I went to Oregon Ballet Theatre, which was a very close-knit environment. The dancers were incredible role models and I absorbed whatever I could from them.

How do you approach something that makes you uncomfortable?

I've grown to relish contemporary things outside of my comfort zone. I try not to come in feeling defeated or defensive, and to take in what the cho- reographer or stager is asking of me. It's easy to think, Ugh, I can't do this, it isn't my thing. But it's never going to be my thing if I don't try.

Biascci as Aurora

Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

You first danced Aurora as a corps member. How was it revisiting the role this season?

Before, I felt like I was racing the ballet, and it was always winning. I noticed a difference this time. I had more freedom to interpret and make choices. I attempted to make Act II different from Act I by incorporating that fluid, underwater- dream aspect into the port de bras, and really finessing the phrasing of all the turns, to not break the spell.

What do you do on your days off?

I really enjoy reading. I need downtime to feel normal. I cook my quinoa, take a bath, ice my ankle...and the day's over.

What advice have you found particularly helpful?

Take care of yourself, body and mind. It's nobody else's job to say that you should take it easy today. It's hard to advocate for yourself when the culture is so "Yes, I can do that. Push me." I think it requires experience, cultivating an awareness of your body, and just having the guts to stand up for yourself—and cultivating that, too.

Ballet Stars

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Courtesy BLOCH

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Ali Cameron, Courtesy Queensland Ballet

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Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet

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