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From left: Me, Madeline Skelly and Natalie Varnum

From June 24–July 10, Houston Ballet is embarking on its biggest tour yet to Melbourne, Australia, hometown of artistic director Stanton Welch. Pointe asked demi-soloist Jacquelyn Long to keep a diary of her experiences.

July 10, 2016

Today we said goodbye to Melbourne—well, some of us did. A few of the dancers are staying in Australia to travel because we are now on a two week layoff! Woohoo!

 

Our last shows of Romeo and Juliet went well.  The Australian audience really responded to the performances, and many of the reviews were very enthusiastic about our company. There was a champagne toast on the last evening to celebrate the success. I think everyone was happy to finish the tour.

 

One last glimpse of the Melbourne skyline

We are about to get back on that 16 hour flight, but I miss my puppy and it's worth it! I think what I am going to miss most about Melbourne is their strong coffee and chocolate Tim Tam cookies. I hope all of you enjoyed following my journey on this tour! I really did enjoy writing for you. If you want to keep following me, my Instagram account is jac_long.

XO,

Jacquelyn

Romeo and Juliet costumes

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From June 24–July 10, Houston Ballet is embarking on its biggest tour yet to Melbourne, Australia, hometown of artistic director Stanton Welch. Pointe asked demi-soloist Jacquelyn Long to keep a diary of her experiences.

July 8, 2016

With my sisters Tyler Donateli and Soo Cho

We are nearing the end of our tour and I think everyone is trying to rally as we approach show number 10. We've had a long week with performances every day, including some double show days.

I got to debut the part of Miranda this week! It was a lot of fun. She is quite a sassy character! It's difficult though—there is intense acting, fouettés and lots of jumping. It was rewarding to emote onstage and get lost in a character. Something fun about that role is she has to wear a red wig! I took a little time lapsed video to show you guys what wig prep in the ballet world looks like.

 

 

 

We took class in the Australian Ballet studios yesterday, which was very nice. We've been using the rehearsal room at the theater, which is pretty small in comparison to their studios and what we are used to back in Houston. We had another guest teacher this week as well, Australian Ballet artistic associate and principal coach Fiona Tonkin. I think everyone enjoyed her class. There was also a class onstage with an audience, which our ballet master Steven Woodgate taught. He had a microphone so that the people could hear him correct and teach. He used to dance with the Aussie Ballet and was always a part of these demonstrations when he was with the company. I think it was neat for him to do it again.

Soloist Allison Miller and dancers of the company at the Australian Ballet studios

 

XO,

Jacquelyn

 

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From June 24–July 10, Houston Ballet is embarking on its biggest tour yet to Melbourne, Australia, hometown of artistic director Stanton Welch. Pointe asked demi-soloist Jacquelyn Long to keep a diary of her experiences.

Madeline Skelly and Natalie Varnum at the Bloch store.

July 3, 2016

Hey everyone, I hope you have been enjoying my posts! We had three shows and a tech rehearsal since my last one and we just enjoyed a nice day off.

A lot of us have been shopping at some of the local Australian shops in our time off and updating our dance wardrobe. For instance, we've been frequenting the Bloch store, which is based in Australia! The most popular purchases have been their booties and warm ups. Also, dancers of the Australian Ballet have a line called Keto Dancewear that many of us have been quick to purchase! Below I am pictured with a group of us sporting our new leos and tights.

Sporting our new leos (from left): myself, Katherine Precourt, Melody Mennite, Kaleigh Courts, Jordan Veit, Emily Seymour and Natalie Varnum.

 

Nao Kusuzaki. Photo by Chunwei Chan, Courtesy Long.

We had a birthday on our day off: Nao Kusuzaki! Nao is another dancer who will be ending her career here in Australia. She joined the Houston Ballet from Boston Ballet in 2004 and was promoted to soloist in 2008. Nao dances with a grace that will be missed. She will be studying to achieve a business degree.

Well, Happy Independence Day to everyone in America! It feels strange to not be home to see any fireworks, but we have another show tonight. It is the premiere of the third cast of leads, so I'm sure that will be exciting!

 

XO,

Jacquelyn

 

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From June 24–July 10, Houston Ballet is embarking on its biggest tour yet to Melbourne, Australia, hometown of artistic director Stanton Welch. Pointe asked demi-soloist Jacquelyn Long to keep a diary of her experiences.

June 30, 2016


Getting notes backstage after dress rehearsal. They were practicing scene changes on the stage, so we squished.

Opening night was a success! We had a dress rehearsal in the early afternoon with a different cast, and I think everyone was a bit tired. A few of us even napped in our dressing rooms to get a boost. There’s also a cafeteria in the theater, which is so nice. I wish we had one in Houston! Most of the dancers got their food and coffee there during the break.

The audience was packed for opening night. There were definitely some nerves in the air, but I think the cast felt very ready to get the shows rolling. The leads all danced beautifully. The show itself went very well from what I saw, and the audience was very responsive. There were even gasps during the fight scenes. We had an actual sword-fighting teacher work with us when it was originally choreographed, so it definitely gets scary. I'm scared on stage sometimes, and I know the choreography!

Before opening night as Katerina. Yes, I brought Cheez-Its to Australia!

After the show there was a reception with The Australian Ballet. It was very nice to mingle with the Aussie dancers. They were all so sweet and eager to help us with recommendations of restaurants and shops. Actually, everyone in Melbourne has been nothing but nice, from coffee baristas to shop owners. It makes traveling to a foreign country so much more fun.

I'm excited for another show tonight!

 

Xo,

Jacquelyn

(Photos by Jacquelyn Long.)

For more news on all things ballet, don't miss a single issue.

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From June 24–July 10, Houston Ballet is embarking on its biggest tour yet to Melbourne, Australia, hometown of artistic director Stanton Welch. Pointe asked demi-soloist Jacquelyn Long to keep a diary of her experiences.

June 29, 2016

The State Theatre at Arts Center of Victoria. Photo by Chunwai Chan, Courtesy Long.

We had our first day of rehearsals yesterday in the Arts Center of Victoria rehearsal room. We did a run through of Romeo and Juliet and rehearsed the Australian Ballet School children into the production. They have a beggar’s dance and are also town children in the show. The run went well, and I think everyone is excited to go onstage!

In the dance world there are some things that come with the job—and casting changes is one of them. Due to injuries or passport problems, we had some fittings during rehearsals yesterday. I have to be a ball guest now and one of Juliet's friends, so I had a few costumes to try on. I also will be dancing Katerina (a tavern sister), a role I originated when the ballet was created. And, I get to premiere Miranda, who is the main tavern sister—Mercutio's girl.

Dancers Megumi Takeda and Aoi Fujiwara exploring Melbourne. Photo by Long.

After rehearsal, I think everyone was feeling the jet lag. If you have never experienced jet lag, it feels like it’s 1:00 am when it’s only 7:30 in the evening! Some of my friends and I walked the city to get food and drinks. We lasted until 10:15 before we were home in bed. I must say though, I feel better today after forcing myself to stay awake.

This morning, we got to take class from Australian Ballet staff member Eve Lawson, a fellow American.  It was fun to have a guest teacher while on tour. The floors here are a bit slippery, but I think the boys, especially, are enjoying turning on them. If you have a chance, check out the videos on Instagram of that! Following the hashtag #hbtakesaustralia

We have a technical rehearsal first today and then a dress rehearsal later tonight. I hope all goes smoothly! I'm looking forward to letting you guys know what the stage is like.

 

Xo,

Jacquelyn

Bridget Kuhns working on her lines before rehearsal. Photo by Chunwai Chan, Courtesy Long.

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From June 24–July 10, Houston Ballet is embarking on its biggest tour yet to Melbourne, Australia, hometown of artistic director Stanton Welch. Pointe asked demi-soloist Jacquelyn Long to keep a diary of her experiences.

June 26, 2016

We made it! Dylan Lackey, Emily Seymour and Jenna Gooden.

We are in Melbourne! I think everyone was happy to be done with the long flight. We arrived at 7:30am and had the whole day to explore. They say the best way to learn a city is by walking it, and that is what many of the dancers did today.

I started my day with coffee, the usual, but I must say the coffee here tastes stronger than in America. A few of us explored the South Melbourne Market, which has a bunch of local shops. I was taken aback by some of the sizes of the local foods—after all, I thought everything was bigger in Texas! Apparently not (see my pictures below).

Everything is bigger in Melbourne!

South Melbourne Market

After we checked in to the Short Stay Apartments, a few of us checked out the pool and the gym to try moving a little bit after the flight. I lasted about 7 minutes in the pool. It was too cold, even though it was heated and indoor.

Michael Ryan and Mallory Mehaffey

In the evening, we walked aimlessly, trying to fight the jet lag. We strolled around an area called Southbank and saw some street dancers performing. Since Australia’s summer feels like our winter, it was freezing outside and the walk back to the hotel once the sun went down was brutal! It’s crazy how it can be so hot at home and so cold here. Thankfully the temperature during the day hasn't gotten too bad, yet.

Well, our first day of tour is down—15 more to go! Tomorrow we have just a ballet class scheduled, and I am hoping my body isn't too tight from the long travel. Now I'm off to sew some pointe shoes!

XO,

Jacquelyn

Meeting up with our Aussie friend! Myself, Gabby Johnson, Will Newton, Madeline Skelly, Queensland Ballet dancer Joel Woellner, Aaron Robison, Derek Dunn and Natalie Varnum. (All photos courtesy Long)

 

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Jacquelyn Long, Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

From June 24–July 10, Houston Ballet is embarking on its biggest tour yet to Melbourne, Australia, hometown of artistic director Stanton Welch. Pointe asked demi-soloist Jacquelyn Long to keep a diary of her experiences.

Friday, June 24, 2016

I'm so excited to be guest blogging for Pointe to give you a behind the scenes look at tour life! A bit about your blogger: I was born in Cleveland, Ohio (go Cavs!) and lived most of my life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I joined Houston Ballet’s second company in 2010, and became a corps de ballet member in 2012. In May, I was promoted to demi soloist. My favorite pastime is probably a good Netflix binge or playing with my Pomeranian.

"Looking natural at the airport..." Photo by Long.

The company is touring Stanton Welch’s Romeo and Juliet to Melbourne, Australia! The story is beautiful and one of my favorites. Our production premiered in February, 2015 in Houston. It has been fun to revisit the ballet and I think we are all anxious to see what the Aussies think.

Right now we’re in Los Angeles LAX Airport! After a three and a half hour flight from Houston, I'm anxious for what the 17-hour flight to Melbourne will feel like. My ankles already feel swollen, which is the worst part about flying as a dancer. Some of my colleagues are wearing compression socks to help reduce the swelling, and I would say tennis shoes are everyone’s favorite pick for footwear. My boyfriend and I each bought a new pair of Nikes earlier today— with all the walking that comes with traveling, comfy shoes are essential!

This trip comes with some bittersweet feelings, as some of our dancers will be retiring afterwards. Rupert Edwards, pictured here with his beautiful wife Karina González, will be continuing his studies of kinesiology after the tour.

Photo by Chunwai Chan, Courtesy Long.

Now off to find some food. More to come!

Jacquelyn

 

For more news on all things ballet, don't miss a single issue.

Ballet Stars

Jacquelyn Long, Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

With her long, slender arms and legs, Houston Ballet’s Jacquelyn Long has a gazelle-like quality—lyrical yet ready to charge through space with aggressive confidence. That may be why she looked so at home this past season in Balanchine’s impossibly paced Ballet Imperial. “I’m Herbie, Fully Loaded,” quips the 20-year-old corps member. “I like to go fast.”

Long has dance in her DNA. Her mother, Suzanne Long, danced with Cleveland San Jose Ballet for 11 years and currently co-directs Ballet Virginia International, a school in Norfolk, Virginia, where Long trained until she was 16. Having your mother run your ballet school isn’t easy, yet Long did her best to gather skills without hogging the limelight. The mother-daughter team had to find a working method when it came to corrections. “It took some maturity for me to realize that in the studio she was my teacher, and out of it, she was my mom,” says Long. “It was a tough slope.”

She got to know Houston Ballet during three summer intensives at the company’s Ben Stevenson Academy. “Once I got there and saw the Houston Ballet II dancers in the program,” Long says. “I knew that was what I wanted to be.”

By 16, Long was wrapping up high school and heading to Houston to join the second company with her mother’s blessing. After two years, she had a corps contract, skipping the apprentice stage. HBII’s ballet master Claudio Muñoz wasn’t surprised by the contract offer. “Jacquelyn knows how to make every step her own: She can speak both the poetry of ballet and the prose of contemporary with equal precision, clarity and, above all, intelligence,” says Muñoz. “She was able to go directly from HBII to the corps because of her maturity and the quality of her dancing.” Long’s sprightly presence and charm made her a good fit for a repertoire that ranges from Trey McIntyre’s whimsical Peter Pan to Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch’s hyper-physical choreographic style.

Despite some hurdles, Long found herself ready for the challenge of company life. “My first response when I got my contract was pure joy. My second was, ‘Oh no, I have to dance ‘The Kingdom of the Shades’ in La Bayadère. Adagio is not my strong suit,” she says. “ ‘Shades’ scared me so much, because the closest thing I’d done to adagio onstage at that point had been pas de deux work. It’s where I have the least amount of confidence.”

Conquering her fear of slow, controlled movement proved doable in the end. “Stanton would come in and ask for that spirit of hope in our eyes,” says Long. “After that, I think the feeling of the ballet really took over.”

Long ended up having a banner year. “I danced in every single performance, which included 37 Nutcrackers, and had no injuries.” Her work with contemporary choreographers proved a high point. She spent six weeks with Aszure Barton for the rigorous creation process of Angular Momentum, where phrases were fractured into smithereens of gestural minutia. “I’m a nerd, so the detailed process appealed to me,” she says. She also has loved working with Garrett Smith and Melissa Hough, both of whom have new ballets this season. “No matter how fast something is, I know Garrett wants me to be right on the money,” she says. “He challenges me to keep the grounded feeling and flow that the music carries.”

Long’s mother comes to Houston as often as she can to see her daughter perform. “My mom is not allowed to correct me now,” says Long. Although she sees herself as a different kind of dancer than her mother, she realizes that they share many qualities. “She was a great Juliet, and I hope to dance Romeo and Juliet someday, too. I’m determined to make my own mark.”

At a Glance 

Jacquelyn Long

Age: 20

Training: Ballet Virginia International, Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy

Favorite ballet to dance: Ballet Imperial

Dream role: Juliet in Romeo and Juliet

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