Someone once told me that life's purpose is to inspire, and to be inspired by those who surround you. Along my life, I've met many interesting people, and I have to say that those who do art are my favorites. The passion and dedication of ballet dancers, is admirable and sublime.
A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to interview Evelyn Turner, who has been a ballerina since the she was a kid. I thought it'd be a great idea to celebrate women's month by celebrating our daily muses. Check out her interesting, and inspiring life journey:
- When did you know you wanted to be a professional ballet dancer?
-I knew I wanted to be a ballet dancer from a pretty young age. There is a lot of art in my family. My grandmother was a sculptor, my aunt is an art teacher and just about everyone else plays an instrument but there hadn't been any dancers. I asked my mother to put me in ballet and so she did. Once I was about 8 years old and training with a school that was attached to a professional company, I realized that was what I wanted to do. Being behind the scenes and seeing what before, during and after the performance process was really exciting.
- What ballet companies have you worked for?
-I worked for Colorado Ballet for 5 years right out of high school. Then I worked for Sacramento Ballet for 3 years. One summer I danced for Sierra Nevada Ballet and then spent 2 years working for Oakland Ballet.
- Which one did you like better? Why?
-Probably the best company experience I had was with Sacramento Ballet for a couple different reasons. First, the company performs really amazing works. For example, Who Cares?, Serenade and Stars and Stripes are all George Balanchine ballets and they are basically copy written which makes them (legally) very hard for companies to get the rights to perform them. While I was with Sacramento I got to perform 7 Balanchine ballets. Second, there is a great sense of camaraderie among the dancers and staff there. Ballet can be really competitive especially when it's your job so it was nice to work with a company of dancers that genuinely seemed to be rooting for each other.
- Which has been your most important performance? Why?
-I try to keep in mind that every performance is important. With Colorado, we used to perform 30 Nutcracker shows in the month of December. Every year. Our director liked to remind us, "Keep in mind...it's someone in the audiences first Nutcracker!". That being said, my most memorable and personally significant performance was George Balanchine's Tarantella. It's an 8 minute piece with just a boy and a girl and has the quickest, most challenging footwork I've ever seen. Additionally, the movements are basically just jumps and turns so by the middle of the piece you can barely feel your feet, let alone breathe. It's notoriously hard and it's still the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life. Each time my partner and I walked off the stage after Tarantella I felt like I wanted to die but it made me realize how much I am capable of. It was very rewarding. Oh, and you get to dance with a tambourine.
- How can you describe the feeling when you're behind the red curtain
-That's hard to describe. At about half hour call (1/2 hour before the show starts), dancers start to practice on stage behind the curtain. There is a lot of excitement but also some anxiety and nervousness. Each performance is different and if you're not focused, things could easily go wrong. The moment before the curtain goes up, whether you're on stage or waiting in the wings, everything is silent and I tend to get a rush of adrenaline. So much so that I feel like I'm floating. Being a professional means you have to channel that energy into a killer performance and not let it get the best of you.
Sometimes we need to open our eyes, and see the wonders that surround us. Maybe it's the smell of the flowers in the morning, or a simple coffee at your favorite spot... to me, it's the beautiful people who inspire us no matter what. Let's celebrate them today, and every day!