Today’s “10 Questions With…” features a woman that I have a great deal of respect for. Claire Bataille was someone that I looked up to in my days at Hubbard Street Dance Company’s school, the Lou Conte Dance Studio. She was a powerful dancer with amazing technique and I loved taking her class. I’m thrilled to have her on the site with us today…
1. How did you become involved with dance?
I started taking ballet lessons when I was 3 years old and never stopped.
2. What are you currently doing in the field?
3. Would you share a special moment or two from your career?
HSDC’s first public performance in the tiny theater at the Cultural Center. We felt like we were at the Met.
Our first day in the studio with Twyla Tharp. I was in awe and it was so much fun!
The feeling I had being on stage again after my son was born. Performing was the only time I felt like I had time to myself and my only job was to focus on what I had to do. It was ironic. And at the same time becoming a mom put it all in perspective.
4. What is the best advice you have ever received regarding dance?
Lou Conte taught me how to really work. We had to give 100% every day. His rules were pretty simple: be on time, take the full ballet class everyday, take corrections, pay attention to details, be responsible.
As a choreographer and director he always made you look into the heart of the movement, no matter how simple. When he was disappointed in you he let you know and when he was moved you felt great, like you could do anything. I would not have had a career without Lou in my life. Definitely not like the one I had.
5. Do you have any advice for those who would like to dance professionally?
You have to physically and mentally strong, be prepared to stand tough against rejection, study ballet, jazz, modern, tap and any other discipline that’s interesting, take class every day, audition for everything and maintain a life away from dance. Read the newspaper, go to the movies, keep good friends close.
6. What advice can you offer for dance teachers?
Besides teaching a clean, strong technique combined with musicality and fluid movement quality, good teachers are much like good parents. You have to be willing to tell young dancers the truth and be ready to listen with compassion and heart.
7. What is it that you love so much about dance?
I love the dancer mentality. There is a dedication and emotional connection to the business that makes dancers good people no matter where their careers and life take them. A good dancer is a well balanced person.
8. What was it like to dance with Hubbard Street Dance Company?
9. You have also choreographed. Can you talk a bit about that process?
I choreographed a few pieces, had some good ideas but it’s not where my strength is. I much prefer being a guide.
10. What is next for you?
I’m 58. At this point I just hope to be able to continue to help young dancers navigate their way into and through this difficult and glorious business.
BIO: CLAIRE BATAILLE was a leading dancer with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC) from 1977-1992 performing works created by Lou Conte, Twyla Tharp, Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Daniel Ezralow, John McFall and Margo Sappington. She received the Ruth Page Award for Outstanding Dancer in 1992. Between the years of 1977 and 2001 Claire also served the company as assistant artistic director, ballet mistress and rehearsal director. As a resident choreographer she created 5 works for HSDC between 1978 and 1985. Claire toured internationally with HSDC and has performed and taught throughout the US, Canada, South America and Europe.
As a choreographer, Claire has created works for HSDC, Spectrum Dance Theater in Seattle, Akasha Dance Company in Chicago, Dancers in Company in Iowa, Point Park Dance Ensemble in Pittsburgh and the Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble. In 1993 Claire conceived, choreographed and directed “Lifetimes” for the WTTW (Chicago’s Public Television) production of “Love in 4 Acts” featuring 4 Chicago choreographers. She has restaged Lou Conte’s works for many companies including HSDC, Dublin City Ballet, Spectrum Dance Theater, Point Park, Western Michigan University, Civic Ballet of Chicago and the University of Georgia.
Claire began teaching at the Lou Conte Dance Studio in 1975 and has been teaching dance in Chicago ever since. She has been on the faculty of The Chicago Academy for the Arts, Gus Giordano Dance Center, Columbia College, Melissa Thodos and Dancers, Cirqua/Rivera Dance Theatre, The Ruth Page Foundation and HSDC. Currently she is on the faculty of the Lou Conte Dance Studio and River North Chicago Dance Co. and is a guest teacher for several Chicago companies. In 2003 she earned her certification in the Pilates Method in New York with Romana’s Pilates. In Sept. 2005, she was appointed associate director of the Lou Conte Dance Studio at the Hubbard St. Dance Center. In Sept. 2008 she was promoted to director.
The best job of all is being mom to her 2 sons, Isaac and Jack.