I met Emily Long on Twitter and found her interesting…thought I’d ask her to do the “10 Questions With…” to get to know her a little better–and I’m glad I did! I’m sure you’ll enjoy her interview as well…
1. How did you become involved with dance?
I began dancing because a friend of mine in grade school did it. My favorite part of my first year of ballet was the flashcards; we sat in a circle and had to demonstrate steps one at a time as we were each flashed a card. But I was pretty theatrical as a kid—putting on Broadway shows in my basement with the neighbor kids, folk dancing in the backyard, improvising to a Putumayo CD of Latin music my dad had—I think it was inevitable for me to come to dance one way or another.
2. What are you currently doing in the field?
I am beginning my second season as a dancer with Ballet Quad Cities. In two weeks we premiere the ballet “I, Vampire,” in which I am killed no fewer than four separate times under various character guises. It’s all very dramatic.
3. Would you share a special moment or two from your career?
Special moments for me have been times of being aware of connectedness—sometimes they happen onstage with the audience or a partner, sometimes in the studio, sometimes in discussion outside of rehearsal.
4. What is the best advice you have ever received regarding dance?
The best advice I’ve ever received was from a very, very dear teacher I had, Kimmary Williams, who told me that as long as I wanted to dance, there would be some way to do it. The corollary to that, I infer, is that if I can’t find a way to dance, it must mean I don’t want it enough and should probably stop. Sometimes I wonder if that’s an oversimplified way of looking at things, but it’s worked for me so far.
5. Do you have any advice for those who would like to dance professionally?
Find what works for you. Realize that the only factor in the equation of personal or professional success that you can know and control is yourself, and knowing yourself is an ever-changing, ongoing process.
6. What has been your biggest challenge in dance?
My biggest challenge physically has been my tendency to overwork. I’ve been called “bulldog” by more teachers than I’d like to count! A manifestation of my reluctance to trust my body’s natural tendency toward balance and efficiency, I think. But I believe self trust is one of the great human challenges, so I’ve begun to grow out of the overwork as I’ve begun to grow up.
7. What is it that you love so much about ballet?
I love that there is so much to study: different techniques and frameworks of movement in the broadest, most absolute sense; the movement philosophies of individual choreographers; and on the most personal level the emotions or ideas one can inject into one’s own dancing. I love the process of finding the appropriate vehicle to convey a particular thought or feeling.
8. Do you have a special routine that you go through before a performance, or is each one different?
I make sure I have time onstage before curtain to go through any bits of choreography I find scary or inconsistent…usually that also involves a lot of pep talks and/or lectures under my breath, too! I eat some small complex carbohydrate three or four hours before the show. Basically make my body as ready as possible, whatever happens to mean for a given show. I also usually put my eyelashes on before class to get used to having to focus through that filter.
9. Where you do think dance is headed?
That’s a big question. To the extent that the state of art reflects the state of society, I think it will become increasingly plural and increasingly relativistic—what’s considered innovative, classical, or deviant changes so quickly. Dance is also increasingly trans-generic; all the styles are informing one another. And one can’t even begin to address the impact technology is having on dance in terms of access and the exchange of information. Those are probably all pretty obvious statements.
10. What is next for you?
Next for me is, of course, the rest of the season: “Nutcracker;” a mixed bill, “The Ugly Duckling;” and “Cinderella.” Many more years of dancing following that, I hope.
BIO: Emily Kate Long began her dance education in South Bend, Indiana, with Kimmary Williams and Jacob Rice and graduated in 2007 from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s Schenley Program. Ms Long attended Milwaukee Ballet School’s Summer Intensive on scholarship before being invited to join Milwaukee Ballet II in 2007. She also has spent summers studying at Saratoga Summer Dance Intensive, Miami City Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, Pittsburgh Youth Ballet, and Ballet Chicago.
Ms Long has been a member of Ballet Quad Cities since 2009, during which time she has danced featured roles in Deanna Carter’s Ash to Glass and Dracula, and participated in the company’s 2010 performances at Ballet Builders in New York City. Prior to joining Ballet Quad Cities Ms Long performed with Milwaukee Ballet and MBII in Michael Pink’s The Nutcracker and Candide Overture, Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty and La Bayadére, Balanchine’s Who Cares?, Bournonville’s Flower Festival in Genzano and Napoli, and contemporary and neoclassical works by Tom Teague, Denis Malinkine, and Rolando Yanes. She also collaborated extensively with the Milwaukee Ballet Education Department to create Maria and the Magic Doll Shoppe, which toured to over 20 venues throughout southeastern Wisconsin. Favorite roles danced to date include Simone Ferro’s EVOL and Deanna Carter’s Ash To Glass with Ballet Quad Cities, and Petr Zahradnicek’s Dessert Pas De Trois with Milwaukee Ballet II.