PBT’s newest company dancer, Diana Yohe of Cleveland, Ohio, joins the company from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s Graduate Program. Before coming to Pittsburgh, Yohe received her training at Joffrey Ballet’s Trainee Program and Cleveland City Dance and completed summer intensive programs at San Francisco Ballet, Juilliard and Cincinnati Ballet in addition to Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School. Her performance experience includes Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet of Chicago and Juilliard. As a PBT School student, Yohe has performed in PBT productions, including Cinderella, Moulin Rouge® — The Ballet, Giselle, The Nutcracker and George Balanchine’s Serenade.
Here, Yohe discusses her ballet roots, inspiration and most anticipated moments of the 2013-2014 Season.
Describe the moment/experience when you first knew you wanted to pursue a professional career in ballet?
I’d say I’ve known I wanted to pursue ballet since the first time I did The Nutcracker when I was 9 (with the Pennsylvania Ballet). I was one of the children in the party scene. I loved getting to be someone else and dancing on the big stage. I felt like I was a part of something bigger, and it amazed me that I could tell a story without saying a word. I watched the professional ballet dancers doing what they loved most and knew that’s what I wanted with my life too.
What went through your mind when you first learned you’d been hired to the PBT company?
I couldn’t wait to tell my family the news. I have never been more grateful for an opportunity and I couldn’t wait to share it with the people who have gotten me where I am! Even now it’s hard to stop smiling!
What is your favorite thing about ballet?
I think one of the many things I love about ballet is that every dancer approaches a role differently, making each performance a personal experience a dancer shares with an audience. A dancer reveals a lot of who they are when they are performing, and I think that kind of exposure makes it all the more special.
What about your training with PBT School do you think has most prepared you for a professional ballet career?
The PBT School’s staff was very encouraging and supportive with myself and its students in our pursuit to become professional dancers. I believe their training and advice will help all of us in our future careers and endeavors.
Describe your most memorable performance experience to date.
Performing Serenade is something I will never forget. It was amazing that at some point I no longer had to think about what I was dancing or which part came after which. The choreography and the music became so engrained in my mind that when we performed it, it was almost like breathing. One part of the ballet just flowed into the next.
Which ballet are you most looking forward to performing during PBT’s 2013-2014 Season?
I am very excited to perform Swan Lake! The students in the Graduate Program are getting to perform excerpts from Act II for the Pre Professional Showcase, but I am can’t wait to get to perform the whole ballet. Like Giselle, Swan Lake is one of the old story ballets that transports the audience (and dancers!) to another time.
You had the opportunity to perform with the company in several productions during the 2012-2013 Season. What did you learn from those experiences that you’ll take with you in your first season as a professional PBT dancer?
I’ve learned that in live entertainment, anything can happen! No performance will ever go perfectly but each performance can be perfect in its own way. The performances I’ve done this year have given me memories I will never forget and I am eager to make many more memories this coming season!
Diana Yohe (center) as a Snowflake in Terrence S. Orr’s The Nutcracker. Photo by Aimee DiAndrea.