The Dreamer

Who are your dance idols?

I’ve been inspired by too many dancers to name, but I will always have vivid memories of Darci Kistler’s joyfulness, Alessandra Ferri’s dramatic truthfulness and Wendy Whelan’s artistry. They make me want to dance for a living. 

What’s your idea of paradise?
Spending the entire day with my 16-month-old daughter—and worrying about nothing more than her meals and her nap time. She helps me realize my family is the most important thing in my life, which takes the pressure off ballet, and enables me to dance for the pleasure of it.

What do you do to recharge?
I sit down and read a book. There is something wonderful about having that quiet time when the only input is the words on the page.

What’s the latest book you would give a five star rating?

I’m really into science fiction. One author I especially love is Charles de Lint. He creates great characters and melds fantasy with reality.

What has been your most memorable moment onstage?

Dancing with my husband, former NYCB principal James Fayette, was a feeling I will never forget.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Ice cream—vanilla with peanut butter.

To whom would you attribute your success?

I’d have to say God. Ballet is so much about timing—somebody just notices you and decides to give you a chance. In my class at SAB there were 20 super-talented dancers, and only God knows why I’m the one who made it.

How has your husband’s work with the American Guild of Musical Artists, the dancer’s union, affected you?

I used to be so grateful to have my job that it never occurred to me I had rights. It has made me appreciate my worth as a professional more. Many dancers don’t realize that they need somebody to stand up for their safety.

What’s your advice for aspiring professionals?

Put in the hard work and demand excellence of yourself. But when you get onstage, don’t feel like you have to be perfect. It’s an art form, not a science. It’s not supposed to be perfect—it’s supposed to be joyous and thrilling.

Latest Posts

Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Tatiana Melendez Proves There's No One Way to Have a Ballet Career

This is Pointe's Fall 2020 cover story. Click here to purchase this issue.

Talk to anyone about rising contemporary ballerina Tatiana Melendez, and one word is bound to come up repeatedly: "Fierce." And fair enough, that's a perfectly apt way to describe the 20-year-old's stage presence, her technical prowess and her determination to succeed. But don't make the mistake of assuming that fierceness is Melendez's only (or even her most noteworthy) quality. At the core of her dancing is a beautiful versatility. She's just as much at ease when etching pure classical lines as she is when boldly throwing herself off-balance.

"Selfish choreographer that I am, I want Tatiana to stay with Complexions for all time," says her boss Dwight Rhoden, Complexions Contemporary Ballet's co-artistic director and resident choreographer. "She has a theatricality about her: When the music comes on, she gets swept away." Not too shabby for someone who thought just a few years ago that maybe ballet wasn't for her.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT

2020 Stars of the Corps: American Ballet Theatre's Wanyue Qiao

When the curtain opens on Twyla Tharp's In the Upper Room, there are two women onstage, wearing striped pants and tops, and sneakers. By the end, after almost 40 minutes of high-intensity dancing, they've stripped down to red leotards, their fists lifted victoriously. Wanyue Qiao danced one of these athletic superwomen last year during American Ballet Theatre's spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House. It was her first major role, after three years in the corps, and she couldn't have been more fierce. "To be honest, I had never done this kind of dance before, and I wasn't sure if it was my style," she says. Tharp encouraged her, and helped her to find her warrior side. "She showed not just her strength, coordination and ability, but courage," says ballet master Susan Jones, who assisted Tharp in the staging.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Butternut Squash Takes Center Stage This Fall—Plus, 2 Easy Recipes

Whether it's cubed and roasted or puréed into a comforting soup, butternut squash takes center stage this fall. The flavorful seasonal favorite is an excellent nutritional choice for dancers. Here's what's packed into one serving:

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks