Sam DerGregorian comes to Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre from the Professional Division of Pacific Northwest Ballet School, but PBT is not his first company. At just 16, Sam was a member of the New Mexico Ballet Company in his hometown of Albuquerque. There he performed in productions of The Wizard of Oz and, of course, The Nutcracker. Get to know Sam, one of Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr’s new hires for the 2019-2020 Season, here:
Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Family: “I have my mom and dad, one brother, one sister, and three dogs!”
Pre-performance ritual: “I love to turn on some energetic music and jam out!”
Hobbies: “I love to watch movies, hang out with friends and explore the city I’m in!”
Favorite food: “Anything breakfast related!”
Favorite musician/song: “Beyoncé!!!!!”
Ultimate dream role: “It changes a lot, but at the moment I would love to do anything in Dances at a Gathering. It seems so fulfilling to dance an hour-long ballet and I love the movement and music of the piece.“
Favorite role to date: “At PNB, Margret Mullin is creating a piece for the Professional Division students, and I think that has to be my favorite thing I have done to date.“
How do you think you’ve grown as an artist during your training? How has it prepared you for a professional position?
“In the past couple of years, I have tried to use my training to develop more artistry. Instead of just performing the steps, I’ve been thinking about how I can perform the step. This could be in the way I use my head, how fast or slow I make the movement, or how I use my port de bras. And by doing this, I think it helps establish a greater connection with an audience because it creates a sense of openness for the audience to relate to.”
Describe your ballet “epiphany” – the moment you knew this was what you wanted to do professionally.
“I remember being 14 at the PNB summer course. One day in between classes, I looked in on company class. They all just looked so happy, and I realized that I wanted to do that. I never really thought of pursuing ballet as a career, but the moment I saw them something clicked, saying, ‘This is what I want to do with my life.’ And I’m very excited to be making that dream a reality!”
What are some of your personal goals for your first season as a company dancer?
“This season I really want to develop my technique and artistry more. Also, I want to make sure I’m enjoying professional life as much as possible, since this is something I have been dreaming of for a long time!”
What’s the most fulfilling thing about being a ballet dancer?
“To me, that minute on stage is the most fulfilling part. That moment on stage when you’re looking at the crowd and dancing your heart out just makes all the hard work and sweat worth it!”
What are you most looking forward to dancing next season?
“I’m very excited for Balanchine program! The ballets in the program are staples from Balanchine’s repertoire, and I’m so excited to see them! I’m also very excited for Giselle. It’s one of the biggest story ballets and it will be my first time ever seeing it!”
If I wasn’t a ballet dancer, I would be…
“If I weren’t a ballet dancer, I would probably have gone into business. But I still think I would’ve found a way into the ballet world.”