Ballet Careers
Rogers in Twyla Tharp's "The Princess and the Goblin." Photo by Kim Kenney, Courtesy Atlanta Ballet.

Five years after joining American Ballet Theatre, corps member Zhong-Jing Fang sustained a serious ankle injury. Not one to let a setback take her off course, Fang wondered: What other things can I do as an artist? She loved imitating movie actresses as a child, so she decided to try acting while she recovered. For two years, she went every Wednesday evening to a four-hour group class with acting coach Diaan Ainslee. There she learned to dissect a monologue, develop a character, listen and feel emotionally exposed. The experience thrust Fang out of her comfort zone and transformed her as an artist. “It's a different layer of becoming a person," Fang says, “and becoming much more real."

Acting classes, which often incorporate exercises aimed at self-exploration, can offer dancers tools to deepen their artistry. Even simple things, Fang notes, like working without mirrors, can inspire you to go beyond image and find a deeper sense of self. “There is a lot more to say, beyond just being able to dance," she says. Here, Fang and three other dancers explain how acting skills have made them better performers.


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Everything Nutcracker
Atlanta Ballet's Alessa Rogers as Marya. Charlie McCullers, Courtesy AB.

As Christmas approaches, many of you are in your Nutcracker home stretch—and counting down the days. Need an extra shot of inspiration? Here, four Nutcracker veterans share their advice for staying healthy and motivated.

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