Grace Rookstool is part of the new cohort of PBT dancers hired by Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr for the company’s 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-2020. Grace’s passion for dance started early and runs deep, from watching her older sisters practice ballet to taking the stage herself. In fact, the dancers among her family of 10 have racked up over 350 performances of The Nutcracker, between them. Learn more about one of PBT’s newest company members here:
Hometown: Langley, Washington
Family: “I come from a family of 10 kids. I’m number 7 in the line-up.”
Pre-performance ritual: “I like to get there in plenty of time to get myself ready, and to get pumped up and excited for the show.”
Hobbies: “Baking, going for walks and playing around on the piano.”
Favorite food: “Ice cream.”
Favorite musician/song: “I don’t have an absolute favorite. I like everything from Billie Eilish to Queen to Frank Sinatra.”
Ultimate dream role: “Odette/Odile.“
Favorite role to date: “A Meditation, Pas de Deux, choreographed by Cecilia Iliesu for the PNB Next Step program. It was my first pas on stage and I got to do it with someone I was close with.“
How do you think you’ve grown as an artist during your training? How has it prepared you for a professional position?
“I started ballet when I was 3 years old. I’ve been learning technique for as long as I can remember, but learning to express myself as an artist on stage for an audience – or even just in class for myself – has helped me to grow so much over the years. All of the training I’ve received over the years, whether it be in technique or artistry, has been part of showing me what it means to be a professional dancer. It taught me to want to be in any role and to always be ready to jump in at the last minute and express myself to the fullest.”
Describe your ballet “epiphany” – the moment you knew this was what you wanted to do professionally.
“My ‘moment’ when I knew I wanted this more than anything – to become a ballerina – had to be the first time I saw George Balanchine’s Jewels. I was 9 years old and was lucky enough to see Carla Korbes and Karel Cruz perform the Diamonds Pas de Deux together. It was such an amazing performance, it made me want to reach those heights as an artist, which is exactly what I set out to do after that show.”
What are some of your personal goals for your first season as a company dancer?
“For the upcoming season I plan to give 110 percent to each and every opportunity I am given. I also plan to keep on growing as a technician and an artist, and to push forward to new heights for both the audience and myself.”
What’s the most fulfilling thing about being a ballet dancer?
“I would have to say the most fulfilling thing about being a ballet dancer is getting past all the hard work we do in the studios and putting our performances on stage to connect with the audience.”
What are you most looking forward to dancing next season?
“The most exciting thing I’m looking forward to this upcoming season is to finally be a member of a professional ballet company, and taking my passion and making it my career. Not only that, but becoming acquainted with a whole new corner of the ballet world, including artistic staff, coworkers, new friends, etc.”
If I wasn’t a ballet dancer, I would be…
“If I never had my ‘epiphany moment’ in ballet and didn’t become a professional ballet dancer, I think I’d be involved in missionary work or other endeavors reaching out to help the underprivileged, or those affected by natural disasters. I would want to be involved in helping make the world a better place.”