When Diana Yohe next steps on stage, it will be as a Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre soloist. Yohe, an alumna of the PBT School Graduate program, joined the company in 2013 as a member of the Corps de Ballet. Over her four seasons with PBT, she has danced an increasing number of featured roles, including Myrtha in PBT’s October production of Giselle and Alice in its February production of Alice in Wonderland. She’s also racked up an impressive number of contemporary credits ranging from Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort and Sinfonietta to William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room and James Kudelka’s The Man in Black. Diana trained under Courtney Laves and Mark Otloski at the City Ballet of Cleveland before pursuing pre-professional training in Joffrey Ballet’s Trainee Program and in PBT School’s Graduate Program, which she joined in 2012. Get to know Diana here.
Family: I have the most incredible support system. They come to every show, sometimes multiple times. They are the most wonderful people.
Pre-performance Ritual: I don’t have a specific routine, but I always say a quick prayer before getting on stage!
Most-played Music Right Now: The most recent CD I bought was Frank Sinatra. I love the old classics.
Hobbies: I am most definitely a book worm. I also love cooking and baking, along with traveling with my fiancé, Joe. He jokes that wedding planning is my new hobby!
Dream Role: My dream classical role would be Giselle. Otherwise I’d have to say that performing the pas de deux from After the Rain will always be a dream of mine!
Favorite Role to Date: Myrtha from Giselle. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring her character and she was a difficult role to perform since I am generally smiling.
Go-to Relaxation Activity: Reading would be my number 1. Retail therapy is always a way to help a girl relax too!
Misc. Fun Fact: I’m a leftie.
How does it feel to be a soloist? How did you react and/or celebrate when you got the news?
“I don’t know yet! I know I’ll keep dancing just as hard and enjoying every day I get to do what I love. The day I found out I was promoted, I had arrived at work a little early. Once I knew, the first two people I ran in to were my best friend and my fiancé. I’ll never forget the big hugs I got from both of them!! I later celebrated with friends, getting my favorite pizza in Pittsburgh, at Pizza Taglio.”
How do you think you’ve grown as an artist since you first joined the company?
“I feel that a lot of growing as an artist comes with growing as a person. Every part I’ve performed I feel has taught me something new and helped me learn a little bit more about myself.”
Could you describe the rush of performing, your connection with the audience and what it’s like being in the moment, performing, after so much preparation?
“Nothing compares to being on stage. My main goal once I get to the stage is to enjoy the moment and to share the joy I feel with the audience. When I’m out there I just try to relax in what I’m dancing and trust the preparation that got me there.”
Describe your most memorable role with PBT to date.
“In the Upper Room by Twyla Tharp was the first ballet I performed as a dancer with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. I can still remember how I felt during that show. It was incredibly special to me as it was my first time performing as a professional and it is a very difficult ballet to dance. Every time I hear the music by Phillip Glass it takes me back to that time in my life.”
What qualities do you strive to bring to your dancing?
“Understanding a character has become more and more important to me. Dancing becomes even more enjoyable when you have a story behind the movement.”
Why ballet? What does it mean it you?
“I love that ballet is a balance of artistry and athleticism. It is truly a challenge that never dwindles! From the very first time I performed in The Nutcracker, I knew it was my dream to be a professional ballet dancer. I had no idea what I was getting myself into! I wouldn’t change a single choice I made though. I have loved every moment of the ride ballet has taken me on.”
What are you most excited about for next season?
“We have awesome programs scheduled for next season, but if I had to choose I’d say I’m looking forward to Dracula. I have never performed it, but the dancers that have are all very excited to perform it again!”