Today we have Rebecca King on “10 Questions With…”
Rebecca is a dancer and a dance blogger. See her writing at Tendus Under a Palm Tree.
1. How did you become involved with dance?
From the time I could walk, as my mother will tell the story, I was constantly dancing around the house. One day while enjoying some ice cream near the local community center, a group of little girls in tutus and tights came walking past me. I was mesmerized. My mother asked where they took ballet class and as soon as I turned three, I was enrolled. Around Christmas time, I would watch Baryshnikov’s Nutcracker on video and dance around the living room to the music. (I bet my parents were sick of Nutcracker music at that point, little did they know, there would be years and years of Nutcrackers to come.)
2. What are you currently doing in the field?
Currently I am a Corps De Ballet dancer with Miami City Ballet. Two weeks ago, Miami City Ballet wrapped up filming for our first PBS special: “Great Performances: Dance in America.” We spent two weeks filming three ballets: Balanchine’s Western Symphony and Square Dance, and Twyla Tharp’s Golden Section. I will appear in Western Symphony’s Fourth Movement.
3. Would you share a special moment or two from your career?
Last season I got the opportunity to dance “Rum and Coke” in Paul Taylor’s “Company B.” Company B is a World War II ballet set to the music of the Andrew Sisters. In Rum and Coke, there is one girl who dances a solo, with 7 boys rolling around on the floor admiring her. I had the best time: I had great boys to play off of, and I got lost in the fun music and cute choreography.
4. What is the best advice you have ever received regarding dance?
I actually just got the best advice ever this past summer from my former teacher at Miami City Ballet School, Geta Constantinescu. She was telling me that it is so easy to focus on drama; to let our egos get the best of us and worry about who got what part, who got promoted, or who is doing well. But dancers need to remember what brings us to the studio every day. It is the love of dance. I think this is great advice for professional dancers and students alike. It goes to show that it doesn’t matter where you are in your career, there is always so much to learn.
5. Do you have any advice for those who would like to dance professionally?
I think the most important advice I can give young dancers is that hard work pays off. I know that may sound cliche, and we have all heard that before, but really, work ethic is what sets dancers apart. A dancer may have a perfect ballet body and be a nice dancer, but without the drive and determination, will not make it in the professional ballet world. So work hard, improve as much as possible, and hold on to the joy that dance brings you.
6. What has been your biggest challenge in dance?
While at the Rock School in Philadelphia for my senior year of high school, I was diagnosed with an os trigonum in my right foot. An os trigonum is an extra bone in the back of the foot that is very common in dancers. I was told that I would have to have surgery. I was going to be out for about four months and would not be able to attend Miami City Ballet School’s summer program nor would I be able to audition for companies as I had planned. Despite all the worries, in the end I really got lucky. I had a wonderful surgeon in San Francisco who is the orthopedic for SFB, had wonderful physical therapy, and was able to start back to ballet slowly at my home studio.
About two months after my surgery, I wrote to Linda Villella, the Director of Miami City Ballet School, asking her if I could attend the school for the year, based solely on my audition for the summer program months before. She accepted me into the Advanced level and allowed me to continue my rehab with the Physical Therapists hired by the company. Six months after my surgery, I was onstage with Miami City Ballet dancing in the Nutcracker.
7. What is it that you love so much about ballet?
I love performing. When I am on stage, I feel like nothing can touch me. All the worries of the day melt away for those moments, where the lights are shining brightly and I am performing into a dark space in front of me. I know that there are people out there in the audience, but I can’t see them, I can only feel their presence and their delight by the sound of applause. It is an intimate moment that dancers share with the audience; where the dancers are completely lost in the steps, the music, the joy, and the audience is completely lost in what they are watching.
8. Do you have a special routine that you go through before a performance, or is each one different?
Each one is different; as each ballet requires different preparation depending on the type of ballet and the choreography. For example, warming up for a contemporary ballet is much different than warming up for classical ballet. I usually begin getting ready about an hour and a half or two hours before a show starts. I always do my hair first; I like to have my hair slicked back and completely out of my face before starting my makeup. I then put on my costume, cluttered by warm ups, and head to the stage with my iPod and bag of shoes. If I am dancing in a ballet that is really difficult and will cause my calves to cramp, I will eat half a banana on the way, to get some extra potassium. After doing a barre in my socks, I will put on my shoes, to test them and warm up my ankles.
About 10 minutes before the show I have my costume done up in the back and start reviewing the choreography and rehearsing those pesky steps from the ballet that are a challenge for me. After wishing the cast good luck, or “Merde”, with a kiss on the cheek, warm-ups are stripped off as everyone takes their places. This is my favorite moment; the anticipation of the curtain rising.
9. You write a dance blog…can you tell readers a bit about how you got started and what it’s about?
I am lucky enough to have a job that allows me to do what I love everyday. My job is so exciting and unique, that I choose to find an outlet that would allow me to share my thoughts and experiences with the public. Not only do I want to reach out to people who already know and love ballet, but also to find and educate people who are unfamiliar with the ballet world.
For those who are ballet lovers, I want to bring them news about Miami City Ballet and share my experiences around this exciting city. For people who don’t know quite as much about ballet, I hope that I can show the glamorous and trendy side of this art form. I think that many people misperceive ballet as boring and outdated. I hope to prove them wrong.
10. What is next for you?
Currently we are kicking into full gear to prepare for the opening weekend of Miami City Ballet’s 25th anniversary season. Opening night is October 15 at Miami’s Arst Center for the Performing Arts. We will be performing Robbin’s “Fanfare”, Balanchine’s “Bugaku”, and Balanchine’s “Theme and Variations”. Also on tap this season is Balanchine’s “Scotch Symphony”, “La Sonnambula”, and “Western Symphony.” I am also looking forward to the company’s premier of Twyla Tharp’s “Baker’s Dozen” and Paul Taylor’s “Promethean Fire”. Last but not least, our fourth program is John Cranko full length “Romeo and Juliet” which we have already staged. The company has a lot of exciting things happening this season, and I can’t wait to get into the theater!
BIO: I was born and raised in Northern California. I received my ballet training from former San Francisco Ballet School Director Richard Cammack and former ABT and SFB dancer Zola Dishong at Contra Costa Ballet Centre (http://www.contracostaballet.org/) in Walnut Creek, CA. My senior year in high school I moved to Philadelphia to train at the Rock School. After graduating in 2006, I moved to Miami to train at Miami City Ballet. After a few months in the school I was asked to learn Snow and Flowers with the company for their upcoming Nutcracker shows. After performing those parts as a student, I was also on stage dancing Willies in Giselle and in Balanchine’s Symphony in 3 later that season. I was then offered a Company Apprentice contract for the 2007-2008 season. In 2008 I was promoted to Corps De Ballet.