Backstage Ritual: “I like to do my makeup at the theater. I think it’s a good way to set up for the performance. Before going on stage I’ll take a few deep breaths, say a quick prayer, just get myself all in one place before I go onstage.”
Favorite Song/Musician right now: “I feel embarrassed saying this, but I will listen to any Christmas music all year round. It always puts me in a good mood. But if I had to pick an artist, I would say Michael Bublé. His cover of Dream a Little Dream of Me is my favorite song.”
Hobbies Beyond Dance: “If I get the chance, I like to draw. I have a couple paintings that I did back in high school that are in my apartment right now. I enjoy the process of it.”
For Fun: “I like to go to baseball games. I’m a Texas Rangers fan at heart, but I’m becoming a Pirates fan. The stadium is beautiful.”
Family: “I have one younger sister, Sarah (15), and then my mom and my dad and my two dogs, Sandy and Osprey (at home in Texas).”
Favorite Role to Date: “I think it would probably be Allegro Brillante by George Balanchine. That was my last performance at UNCSA and it was probably the most fun I’ve had onstage – partly because the group of us that performed it, we were all friends and pretty close. It’s a fun piece to dance. It’s challenging.”
Dream Role: “My dream role is actually Juliet, which is part of PBT’s rep this year so it will be very fun to be part of that entire ballet. Every version of Romeo & Juliet that I’ve seen I’ve just been in love with the choreography. The music is beautiful. I’m sure it’s probably one of the more challenging ballets to perform because there’s so much depth to Juliet’s character.”
If I wasn’t a ballet dancer, I would be: “In some math related field.”
Go-to Relaxation Activity: “I usually end up just sprawling out on my couch, but I like to cook dinner. My favorite dish most recently is this Tuscan chicken pasta (The only difference is I substitute half and half for heavy cream). If I have enough time I’ll take a bath with Epsom salts. That’s a splurge every now and then. I like Food Network; I watch a lot of cooking shows and HGTV.”
How did you first discover your love of ballet?
“When I was young I did gymnastics for probably three years and it wasn’t quite right. I enjoyed it, but not as much as I thought I would. So I figured I would try a ballet class (at age 7 or 8). According to my mom, I walked out of my first ballet class and said, ‘This is what I’ve always dreamed of.’ I think from that moment I knew it would be a big part of my life. It was an instant love.”
Here at PBT, what was the most important thing you learned about ballet and about yourself as an artist?
“I would say time management is one. I think managing rest time versus rehearsal time and making time to work on things outside of rehearsals – but not overdo it – is something I’ve learned here as well as pushing myself…You’re finding ways to improve on your own…Being with people who have the experience of the profession and seeing that from a student side right there in front of you is inspiring. It’s really cool to see how different each person is but how well the performances come together.”
What is your top goal for your first season as a professional dancer?
“To enjoy it as much as possible, definitely. I’m still in the initial excitement phase. It’s been a dream for so long. Now that it’s a reality there’s still a rush of emotions about it. Also, I want to see what other sides of myself I can find. I know I have my classical side, and I know I’ve done some contemporary work but I’m excited to see what else I can do. I want to focus on honing the presence and quality I have while keeping my technique as clean and precise as I can.”
What are you most looking forward to this season?
“I’m looking forward to building some new friendships. The company members are so nice…I got to build some friendships with them when we went to Chicago (to perform Sandpaper Ballet at the Chicago Dancing Festival). It will be cool to get to know them even more now that we’re in the company together.”
What do you do to get in the zone, mentally and physically, for a challenging rehearsal or performance day?
“I will grocery shop the weekend before to make sure I have all the food I could possibly need. I make a list of everything I’m going to need at the theater and I’ll lay it out and make sure it’s packed in my bags. I like to get everything in order before we move into the theater – tights, shoes, makeup, hair stuff, all of that.
Each performance is a new performance. It’s not going to be just like the last one. It’s always another chance to make something better…It’s another chance to improve upon what you did before. You can’t keep the mindset that it’s going to be the same performance, because you’re not going to feel the same every day, which is something I’ve come to terms with in the last year. I used to want every performance to be perfect and you can’t think of it that way. I think it’s just taking it one day at a time.”
Of all the arts and forms of dance, why ballet?
“There was something about it that just made it a necessity. I think part of it was the discipline and the challenge of it. It’s something I like. I have always been a math geek, so I like things to be kind of orderly and to make sense. Ballet technique is very similar. It’s all shapes; it’s all lines. There’s a lot of physics to it as well which is kind of cool. But all in all, the feeling you get from dancing is unlike any other. Not everyone gets the chance to be a part of a live art form that has so much rich history, and I feel lucky to have that opportunity. ”
Did you have a ballet eureka moment – when you knew you would choose this for your career?
“I guess you could say it was the first ballet class I took. I didn’t know the work that it would take to get here at that point in time, but I knew that it was something I wanted to do for as long as I could. I think (the turning point) was when I ended up switching studios (to Longview Ballet Theatre). The summer that I went there just to try it out was a bit of an eye opener. (My technical training) really expanded…I think seeing how much I improved in that short time span and how much more there was to ballet – it kind of changed my perspective from this is something fun to this is something I could make a career out of. At Longview Ballet Theatre, Mrs. Mitchell would bring in professionals to work with us on some performances…and seeing them work as well as working with them, I think that was my turning point. Seeing firsthand people who already had a career in dance, and even encouraged me to continue working towards a career in it, made me want it even more.”
In three words, what does ballet mean to you?
Joy. Challenge. Rewarding.
Performance photo by: Rich Sofranko
See Amanda Onstage: Don’t miss PBT’s 2016-2017 Season opener, the hauntingly beautiful Giselle with the PBT Orchestra. Learn more here.