Artist Spotlight: Victoria Watford
Victoria Watford, of Cleveland, Ohio, joins the company from the PBT School Graduate Program, where she has trained since 2014. Prior to PBT, Watford trained with the Cleveland School of Dance for more than 10 years and performed with Cleveland Youth Ballet Company in “Diamonds,” “Don Quixote,” “The Nutcracker” and other works. She has completed several summer intensives at PBT School, and has performed in main-stage company productions of “The Sleeping Beauty,” “The Nutcracker,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “La Bayadére,” “Western Symphony,” “Peter Pan” and on tour at the 2015 Chicago Dancing Festival in “Sandpaper Ballet.” Get to know Victoria below!
Family: Brother, Matthew (16), and parents in her hometown of Cleveland
Pre-performance ritual: “There’s nothing I can do but hope it goes well and put everything out there.”
Favorite Song/Musician: “I really love Corinne Bailey Rae right now. And Mac DeMarco is a go-to.”
Hobbies: “I like to do a lot of reading. I like to be outside. We have a nice porch that I like to sit out on and enjoy.”
Dream Role: “I think it would be Aurora from The Sleeping Beauty, because I love the music and the dancing. It’s so regal and beautiful.”
Favorite Role to Date: “Serenade, Russian Girl. It’s definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it feels so good. I feel so accomplished (after dancing it).”
Go-to Relaxation Activity: “I really love taking baths. I love lush bath bombs and bubble bars and stuff like that…putting some candles on and maybe a movie on Netflix and just relaxing and shutting everything off.”
What’s the most important thing you’ll take away from the PBT School Grad Program?
“I’ve learned so much about my artistry. (When I came here) mainly, I really wanted to perfect my artistry and find myself as a dancer. I think I’ve learned how to put myself into my dancing. And how to look at what I see in other dancers and really admire and figure out how to put it into my dancing…The feeling of dancing together, performing and giving it your all, I feel like you learn it from yourself and just picking bits from other people.”
What is your goal for your first year as a professional dancer?
“To just be comfortable, I think that’s just the biggest thing for me. For the past two years I’ve been admiring all of the corps dancers, all the soloists, all the principals and now these are my co-workers. I’m no longer a little girl who’s looking up to all of these people. This is who I work with, who I’m friends with and who I hang out with. Just making that adjustment.”
Describe your path to ballet.
“I started when I was 4. My mom was pregnant with my brother, and my parents decided that I needed something to do. They put me in gymnastics. The first day, my dad saw the high beam and said, ‘No she’s not doing this.’ And then they put me in ballet (laughs).
I always really enjoyed it. I started off at my very first studio and it was really simple, and then the school closed down and they suggested that I go to Cleveland School of Dance which is now Cleveland Ballet. And I thought, ‘Oh, this is different.’ It was more focused, but I really enjoyed it. When I see a dancer doing beautiful, technical strong amazing ballet, I can’t look away. I get goosebumps. The beauty of it draws me in.”
Ballet epiphany for your career?
“I think I was about 13 or 14, and all of my friends were starting to talk about colleges and futures. I remember my dad sat me down and said, ‘Are you serious about this? Is this what you want to do? If not, that’s fine, you can keep taking classes, but if so, then we’re going to put everything into this.’ At that point, I thought, ‘OK I have to give absolutely everything until I have nothing left to give.’ That was a big turning point but also coming here my very first summer was a big eye opener. Cleveland doesn’t have a huge ballet scene, and I never really interacted with other people who did ballet (with professional aspirations)…Then I came her and every single person said, ‘I’m going to be a professional dancer.’ It was so different to see the way people worked. It was crazy to be exposed to everything. Still to this day I’m exposed to more and more every day.”
How do you get in the zone for a particularly challenging rehearsal or performance day?
“Just leaving everything else at the door. Focusing and saying, ‘OK it’s time to do this combination and this rehearsal.’ Just breathing and focusing. I’ll get in my head, and for me I just have to tell myself, ‘OK you’re doing this now. You’re going to stay up and do two turns. You’re going to do this.’ If I just tell myself that I have to do it, then most of the time it works out.”
In 3 words, what does ballet mean to you?
“Ease. Beauty. Technique.”
If I wasn’t a ballet dancer, I would be…
“For a while I really thought I was going to be a school teacher, because my mom is and I’ve spent so much time in classrooms. My last few years of high school, I did a photography program and a graphic design program and I loved photography. I loved working in a dark room and making a picture my own. I enjoyed every part of it. So either something with teaching – because I have always loved kids – or something with photography.”