Today we have with us Beth Terwilleger from Ballet Austin….
1. How did you become involved with dance?
When I was growing up my family used to put on music and dance around the house. I always loved dancing, and when my grandfather showed me my first ballet video I knew that this was the kind of dance I wanted to do. My mom signed me up for classes and I immediately fell in love.
2. What are you currently doing in the field?
I am currently a ballet dancer with Ballet Austin.
3. Would you share a special moment from your career with readers?
There are so many special moments. I remember the moment I realized I could move, like really dance. I had always been a bit typecast at the school I grew up in as being very much a ballerina and not a contemporary dancer. Then, during my second apprentice year at Ballet Austin I was in a rehearsal for our end of the year show doing a piece set to salsa music and I realized “this feel great!” Really letting go and moving in all kinds of new different ways was really what I wanted dance to be for me. I was told that the way I moved in this show and the fact that I did have this realization was the reason I was hired into the company. It was major turning point for me.
4. What is the best advice you have ever received from a teacher or mentor regarding dance?
It’s a bit cheesy, but when a teacher/mentor told me “do what you have to do to be happy in dance”, it really made a huge impact on my life. I have a lot of other interests besides dance and I am not a healthy person if dance is all that I focus on, so when I was told this by someone I admired very much I was able to do it, and I am so happy now. Not only has it increased my quality of life as a whole, but it has also made my dance so much richer because I am able to bring to the art form all of these new experiences I am allowing myself to have.
My greatest challenge has been juggling dance with all of my other passions. So while it has made me extremely happy to allow myself to explore, it is also difficult to not overload myself and to keep a realistic eye on my own capabilities. I only have so much energy and there are only so many hours in the day. This is a hard reality for me sometimes.
6. Do you have any advice for dancers who want to go on to a professional career?
Decide who you want to be as a person when you are a dancer and decide what you will do to keep that integrity. It is easy to get lost in a world that forces you to be so obsessed and narcissistic. You need to be this way to an extent in order to do the art form justice, but you also need to figure out what you personally need to do to keep yourself balanced and you have to decide what balanced mean to you.
7. Do you have a special routine that you go through prior to a performance?
Not really. If I am nervous about a show I tend to keep quiet and to myself, sort of subtle meditation where I pay a little more attention to my breathing and a little less attention to what is happening around me. But no rituals or anything like that.
8. Do you have any advice specifically for men who want to go into ballet?
Being a woman I don’t know what it is like to be a man in this field. They have it pretty different from women. I would recommend to a man interested in going into to ballet that they talk to a few male dancers in the field so they can get different perspectives and have a better grasp of what the world might be like for them. Stereotypes are not always the norm in our field.
9. What do you enjoy most about your life in dance?
Dancing. I can genuinely say that throughout a day in the studio I catch myself thinking things like “This is so fun!” I often become overwhelmed with emotion when I am dancing and moving and it feels so amazingly good.
10. What is next for you?
I am going to school at night working towards a transfer into the geoscience department at UT. I would like to get a degree in Environmental Science. I’m not sure specifically what I would like to do with it but I do know I want to be outside in nature a lot for my next career.
BIO: Beth Terwilleger, originally from Santa Cruz, CA, joined Ballet Austin II in the fall of 2003 and joined the Company in 2005. Prior to joining Ballet Austin II, Ms.Terwilleger studied ballet with The Studio School of Classical Ballet, Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre, Richmond Ballet, The Rock School, and Miami City Ballet. She has enjoyed dancing roles in Concerto Barocco, Episodes, and Serenade by George Balanchine, Truth & Beauty: The Bach Project, Hamlet, Touch, Silence Within Silence, Songs of Innuendo, and Red Roses by Stephen Mills along with other works by Twyla Tharp, KT Nelson, Michelle Thompson, Reginald Harris, Dominic Walsh, Gina Patterson, Thaddeus Davis, Viktor Kabaniaev and Thang Dao. This is Ms. Terwilleger’s sixth year with the Company.