And today on “10 Questions With…” the lovely Carolyn Judson…
1. What was the road to becoming a dancer like for you?
The road to becoming a dancer for me was pretty usual, I think. I began by dancing as a child, just enjoying my after-school hobby. During high school, I began going to summer programs and learning that I could potentially dance as a profession! I decided to leave home during my senior year of high school to train with the Houston Ballet Academy in hopes of deciding for sure if this was the path I wanted to take in my life. I had the most amazing year in Houston and I learned that dancing ballet was really what I wanted to do “when I grew up” and, thanks to my supportive family, I deferred acceptance to college and continued to pursue a ballet career.
After another year in Houston, I fell in love with the Houston Ballet, the company that their director, Ben Stevenson, had created. When Ben announced his resignation as the director of the Houston Ballet and informed us that he would be moving to direct a company in Fort Worth, I decided to audition for that company. I got accepted as a corps member with his company, Texas Ballet Theater, and have been dancing happily there for 7 years now.
2. What are you currently doing in dance?
Because I am in Ben Stevenson’s company, I get the privilage to dance his amazing choreography. I dance in many of his classical story ballets and neoclassical ballets. This season, Texas Ballet Theater is performing Ben’s Cinderella and his Four Last Songs, two of my all-time favorites of his work. I’m very excited about that!
3. Do you have any advice for those who want to dance professionally?
My advice would be to stay true to yourself. If you want to pursue a professional dance career, you already know that you love it. Don’t forget that. Don’t be afraid to pour your heart into it, because if you really enjoy what you’re doing, it will come across on stage and, ultimately, be so fullfilling.
4. For you, how does the music fit into dancing?
For me, it is all about the music. The music is what I use to communicate with people and what I use to convey a message or tell a story. It tells me how to move, how to react with other people, and how to feel. The music is my favorite part about dancing.
5. Would you share a special moment from your career thus far?
I have had some really special moments on stage, some that only last for a second, but I’ll never forget them. Usually, moments are special when I have a really natural connection with a person on stage. A moment when I am really “in it.” Those are the moments that I live for on stage because it means that I’ve given my whole self to the character. I often will go back and watch the video of the special show or of the special moment, but it’s never the same. I just have to keep those moments in my memory!
My favorite role to dance is the role of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. One reason is that the music in the ballet is more than beautiful. I can’t even think of words to describe it that would do it justice. The other reason is that it is so amazing to create such a strong connection with someone else on stage. It is so thrilling to be Juliet, following her heart and loving someone so completely. I have danced the role twice now, and I hope there will be more opportunities to be Juliet in my future!
7. Do you think that dance has helped you in your personal life? If so, how?
Whenever I had a bad day at school or I felt stressed out about something, I could always depend on dance class to lift my spirits when I was younger. I loved that I could forget about whatever else was happening and I could just focus on my dancing. I still love that. Whether I am in a dance studio or on stage, dancing has given me a place where I’ve always felt comfortable and a place where I can be myself. I’m never as comfortable in my own skin as I am when I’m dancing.
8. What do you think the future of dance holds?
I think that the future of dance is very bright. It’s always so interesting and inspiring to see all of the new choreography that is being created. Also, there has been such a huge developement in the popularity of dance, largely because of TV shows such as So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With The Stars. It is so great that the awarness of dance is being spread. While dancers take enormous amounts of joy from dancing for ourselves, a huge part of this profession is dancing for other people. If we didnt have the interest, where would dance be?
9. What has been your biggest challenge in dance?
I think that my biggest challenge in dance is the fact that I don’t always believe in myself. I set very high standards for myself, which I think is important to some degree, but sometimes those standards are so high that I doubt myself and my abilities. I’m so afraid of not being great and of what people think of me that it is easy for me to miss out on opportunities and great new experiences. I’m still working on that!
10. What is next for you?
Next for me is another great season with Texas Ballet Theater! As I mentioned before, I am excited about dancing in Cinderella and Four Last Songs, which we will be performing in our upcoming 2010-2011 season. We are also going to be performing Don Quixote and I am excited about that as well becuase I have never been in it before! Besides ballet, though, the next thing I’ll be doing is getting married next summer! I can’t wait for that day!
Bio: Carolyn Judson moved from Sacramento, California to Houston, Texas in 2001 to train with Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy. She joined Texas Ballet Theater in 2003 where she has been featured in the title roles in Ben Stevenson’s Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, The Sleeping Beauty, and Cleopatra. At the end of the 2008-2009 season, Carolyn received the Ben Stevenson Award. This is her eighth season with Texas Ballet Theater.