Just for fun
Lauren Post unwinds by sewing pointe shoes in the tub. Photo via Instagram/@laurencpost

Let's face it. Dancers just do things differently. We can never walk down a grocery aisle—we have to tap. We can never simply pick something up we've dropped—without going into a penché. But it's not a bad thing. We love all the ways that dance bleeds into our daily lives.

Turns out the pros aren't ever really off-duty either. Here's how we caught them dancing through their downtime.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Lauren Post unwinds by sewing pointe shoes in the tub. Photo via Instagram/@laurencpost

Let's face it. Dancers just do things differently. We can never walk down a grocery aisle—we have to tap. We can never simply pick something up we've dropped—without going into a penché. But it's not a bad thing. We love all the ways that dance bleeds into our daily lives.

Turns out the pros aren't ever really off-duty either. Here's how we caught them dancing through their downtime.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Lindsi Dec and Karel Cruz in Alexei Ratmansky's "Don Quixote." Photo by Lindsay Thomas, Courtesy PNB.

On Sunday, June 10, Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Karel Cruz will take the stage with the company for the last time. A native of Cuba, Cruz danced with Ballet Nacional de Cuba and the Venezuelan companies Ballet Clasico de Cámara and Teatro Teresa Carreño before joining PNB in 2002. In 2009, Cruz was promoted to principal and married fellow PNB principal Lindsi Dec. In addition to their frequent onstage partnership, the couple is also raising a young son, Koan, and co-running Solu, a dancewear line (check out a very hectic day in their life here). Earlier this week we had the chance to chat with Cruz as he reflected on his 16-year career with PNB.

How did you choose the works that you'll dance at your retirement show this weekend?

Keep reading... Show less
News
Costume sketches for Alexei Ratmansky's new "Harlquinade" for ABT. Courtesy ABT.

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've pulled together some highlights.


ABT's New Harlequinade is Finally Here

The long wait for Alexei Ratmansky's Harlequinade for American Ballet Theatre is finally over. June 4-9, catch ABT at the Metropolitan Opera House in this bold and colorful tribute to the Italian commedia dell'arte traditions, based on the archival notes of Marius Petipa. If this trailer by Ezra Hurwitz is any indication, this new story ballet is sure to delight (fingers crossed that those dogs make their way to the stage).

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars
Violette Verdy coaches PNB principal Elizabeth Murphy in "Emeralds." Photo by Lindsay Thomas, courtesy PNB.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of George Balanchine's Jewels, and companies around the world are paying homage. While last summer's Lincoln Center Festival collaboration with New York City Ballet, Paris Opéra Ballet and Bolshoi Ballet was all glamour and excitement, Pacific Northwest Ballet is taking a reverential look back in advance of its opening performances next week.

In 2014, PNB artistic director Peter Boal invited four stars of Balanchine's original 1967 cast—Violette Verdy, Mimi Paul, Edward Villella and Jacques d'Amboise—to coach the company in their signature roles. And, thank heavens, they captured it all on film. This 20-minute promotional documentary offers priceless footage of them in rehearsals, interviews and lecture demonstrations, offering fascinating insights into Balanchine's creative process and original intentions.

Keep reading... Show less

After combing the Pointe archives for some much-needed New Year's resolution #inspo, I found these gems from 2012: Five professional dancers on what they hope to accomplish in the new year. Their thoughts are as applicable now as they were then. Enjoy!

Keep reading... Show less
Photo Courtesy PNB

In honor of Valentine's Day, we're taking a quick look at some of our favorite dancing couples. Stay tuned for an exclusive set of interviews on V-Day!

First up: Pacific Northwest Ballet principals Lindsi Dec and Karel Cruz.

We've admired Dec for years, both onstage and off. She was the gorgeous cover star of our October/November 2011 issue and provided recent street style inspiration in our February/March 2015 issue! Now, she's married to the equally gorgeous Karel Cruz. You can catch the two of them gracing the PNB stage with their endless limbs and pristine classicism.

Here, Cruz and Dec discuss dancing together in Jiří Kylián's extremely demanding Petite Mort.

 

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

Boston Ballet principal Ashley Ellis with Eris Nezha in Mikko Nissinen's Swan Lake. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Boston Ballet.

Dancers are arguably harder on themselves than any other performing artists. And because their instruments are their bodies, that self-scrutiny can become ruthlessly personal. By definition, classical ballet requires adherence to a strict lexicon of rules dictating turnout, elongated lines, balance, ballon, coordination and musicality. Straying from that ideal can lead to a charge of flawed dancing, of not living up to classical perfection. Pointe asked five professional dancers to elaborate on what they regard as their own “imperfections"—physical, technical, psychological or artistic limitations they have overcome to achieve success in their careers. In some cases, they're still working on those problem areas. In others, they have embraced their quirks and learned how to work with them. For most, their imperfections have become blessings in disguise. Without those challenges, they might not have become the dedicated, singular artists they are today.

Keep reading... Show less
Lindsi Dec. Photo by Kyle Froman for Pointe.

Lindsi Dec likes to keep things simple. “I'm all about comfort," she says. “What I wear is mainly about how my body feels that day and my rehearsal schedule." She looks for pieces that fit well, from stores like Express. “I don't know if it's because we live in Seattle, but I like darker colors," she jokes. In the studio, she wears lots of layers—two pairs of socks, pants over leggings or tights and a vest over a long-sleeved shirt—and most of those layers come from her favorite brand, Mondetta Performance Gear. “It looks like I'm advertising for them, but that's really what I wear!" she says. Many of her ballet clothes, though, don't come from a store at all; they're hand-me-downs passed on from other company dancers. “Everyone's locker is basically everyone else's at PNB," she says. “We're a big family."

Keep reading... Show less


Lindsi Dec steps out from the “Rubies” corps, lowering her arms slowly, a flash in her eyes. And then she bursts into action, her 5' 9" worth of angular beauty unfurling into head-high extensions. Darting and slinking through Balanchine’s hip-jutting steps, the Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist is having the time of her life. And so is the audience.

Dec’s connection to this solo goes back a long way. She saw it for the first time as a teenager attending a Miami City Ballet performance at the Kennedy Center and promptly decided that ballet was what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. It’s no surprise that Dec responded immediately to the role. The steps fit her long, leggy body and playful personality. If there’s one part that captures Dec’s energy, optimism and humor, says PNB artistic director Peter Boal, it’s the solo girl in “Rubies” from Balanchine’s Jewels.

When Boal came to PNB in 2005, he saw Dec as someone who could excel in tall-girl roles. Now 29, this neoclassical dancer has created a much richer onstage identity. The same enthusiasm that Boal loves in her “Rubies” performances has helped Dec prove she is also a modern dancer, a contemporary dancer, a lyrical dancer and—something that surprised even Dec herself when it happened this past June—a Romantic classical ballerina.

Dec started out learning everything from pompom to ballet at the Linda Natoli Studio of Dance in Clinton, Maryland. No one in her family danced—not her mother, her father, her older brother or her many aunts. But her mother signed her up for classes when Dec was 3. Why? “My mom told me, ‘Well, you were very introverted.’ ” Dec laughs. “What?! You can’t even stop me from talking!”

Dec’s family moved around Maryland and Virginia quite a bit, but dance class and competitions continued in spite of long commutes to one dance studio or another. In eighth grade, Dec dropped sports to focus on ballet. She then attended Houston Ballet’s summer intensive and got a glimpse of what a professional career would require. Her progress stopped short, however, when her high school refused to waive its after-school athletic requirements.

It cost her a year of ballet study before she found her way back to the studio. When she returned, she felt she’d fallen behind the other students. “I still feel that way,” she confesses. However, she pushed herself to catch up, and in the process developed a work ethic that has led to one breakthrough after another. 

Dec was 15 when seeing “Rubies” cemented her desire for a professional career. She enrolled in The Washington School of Ballet, a longtime dream of hers. When she suddenly sprouted to 5' 9" in her junior year, she worried whether ballet was still an option. A friend recommended that she study at Pacific Northwest Ballet, which was known for hiring tall dancers.

Dec followed through, and was accepted to their summer program. Despite certain technical weaknesses like modest turnout, Dec was offered a spot in PNB’s professional division when she graduated from high school. She had also won a scholarship to New York University, but decided to defer and see how her efforts in the professional division went. In 2001, PNB hired her as an apprentice; the next year she made it into the corps. PNB’s then co-artistic director Francia Russell recommended Dec spend time in front of a mirror looking for lines that would compensate for her lack of turnout. Dec still follows that  advice to this day—it’s one of the secrets of her success.

Dec stayed in the corps for seven years. In 2007, Boal told her, “To gain ground in this company, you need to excel at more lyrical movement. That softer, more adagio side would open doors for you.” Dec took Boal’s challenge. She actually had already been working on pas de deux after hours with another PNB dancer, Karel Cruz, a 6' 4" Cuban with bravura technique. It paid off. In 2008, PNB ballet master Paul Gibson cast the pair in a pas de deux in his Sense of Doubt—an adagio section. Gibson had long admired Dec’s ability to transform herself for a role, but he felt this time she went somewhere new emotionally. Boal agreed, noting that Dec and Cruz made the dancers’ interaction itself be a presence onstage. “He’s a perfect partner for her,” Boal thought.

Perfect partners onstage—and off. Dec and Cruz got married in 2009, the same year she was promoted to soloist. That fall, their luminous pas de deux in Jirí Kylián’s Petite Mort electrified Seattle audiences. Yet the couple did not rely on their personal chemistry to create a dramatic performance. They watched a Nederlands Dans Theater video of the piece every night during rehearsals, says Dec, trying to figure out how to achieve a “liquid movement quality.” They nailed it.

Dec has blossomed with married life. “I couldn’t think of anything better for us,” she says. “We’re so supportive of each other.” While they enjoy salsa dancing, neither has consuming hobbies. They like hanging out with each other, with their pound kitties—Miso and Luna—and with their friends. It’s easy to see why. Even interviewing Dec is fun. She sees the humor in life and laughs readily.

Her positive personality follows her into the studio. “When you know you’re rehearsing Lindsi,” says Gibson, “you know it’s going to be a great rehearsal.” Choreographer and fellow PNB dancer Kiyon Gaines, who counts her as a close friend as well as a muse, agrees, noting that he feeds off her energy and eagerness. Gaines also praises Dec’s professionalism and her support of other company members. “She is a source of encouragement,” he says. “Everyone in the company has benefited from Lindsi’s kindness.”

Since her Petite Mort breakthrough, Dec has been cast often and widely. For the company’s new restaging of Giselle last June, acknowledging Dec’s evolution as a dancer, Boal cast her as Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea,” Dec thought at the time. None of her many fans would have doubted her dramatic abilities, but Giselle’s floating movement and soft arms presented a big change from Dec’s other repertoire.

Then in March, Dec tore a muscle in her right leg. She faced nine weeks of recovery, with Giselle looming at the other end. Dec’s injury altered her approach to her extracurricular workouts. For the past five years, she had been cross-training, doing abs, cardio on the elliptical and weights with good results. Post-injury, however, Pilates, yoga and not pushing became the new rule. Boal noticed that Dec came back to the studio with a different posture and a greater fluidity to her port de bras. In fact, he interrupted a run-through of Giselle to tell her how great her arms looked. “After I got injured, something clicked in my head about placement,” says Dec. In Giselle, she showed a new lift to her carriage, a quietness. Contrary to even her own expectations, this powerhouse had succeeded in transforming herself once again.

Happily, Dec’s natural spice and sparkle survived the transformation. “You worry when someone starts to analyze little pieces that they’ll become too restricted and lose their expression,” says Boal. “What’s so great about Lindsi is that freedom. And she hasn’t lost it.”

Rosie Gaynor is a Seattle dance writer.

Successful ballet dancers all share one trait: a relentless determination to improve. To close out 2012, Pointe reached out to dancers we covered this past year to find out their resolutions for the next one.

 

Name: Lindsi Dec
Company: Pacific Northwest Ballet
Rank: Soloist

Resolution: “Every new year I strive to be the best dancer and person I can be: To be grateful and appreciative for every moment of my life, including all the aches and pains we go through as dancers! This new year is no exception—I've resolved to find positivity during the hard moments life can throw at you, and to live, breathe, and try to inspire others with the thing I love so much: dancing.”

More Lindsi:
Read our October/November 2011 cover story, and an article about how Lindsi dealt with the emotional trauma of injury.

mailbox

Get Pointe Magazine in your inbox