Today we’d like to welcome Lauren Herfindahl to 4dancers. Lauren is a dancer with Boston Ballet, and she was kind enough to talk with us about preparing for her roles in the company’s upcoming engagement at Lincoln Center.
Can you tell readers a little about your background in dance and how you wound up dancing at Boston Ballet? I started ballet at a very young age after my mother noticed my strong interest and desire to move and express myself to music. I loved putting on mini dance performances for friends and family members, so you could say I always had an innate passion to be a performer. My family and I moved to the Boston area from the West Coast when I was eight and my mother enrolled me in Boston Ballet School. I studied at the school for 7 years before getting an offer to join Boston Ballet II. I grew up watching Boston Ballet and performed many children’s roles in large productions, including six years of children’s roles in The Nutcracker, so it was a dream come true to be offered a job with my home company. It is now only a week away from the end of my first season as a Corps de Ballet member!
This is Boston Ballet’s 50th season and it will be the first time they have performed at New York’s Lincoln Center. What is it like to be a part of this historic event?
It is truly an honor to be able to be a part of such an amazing company. Even from my ten years of watching and now dancing with the company, I have seen it grow into a sensational organization filled with so many amazing artists! To be able to bring this to a new audience is a great opportunity, especially to perform at Lincoln Center. I have learned a lot about the history of Boston Ballet this year, and without George Balanchine and the Ford Foundation, Boston Ballet might not be what it is today, so it seems fitting that we are now closing such a historic season in New York City.
Would you talk a bit about this performance series and the role(s) you will be dancing in New York? What has been the biggest challenge for you personally in preparing for it?
I feel the two programs that we are bringing to perform really showcase the diversity of our company and pays tribute to its roots. In Program 1 I will be performing in Jose Martinez’s Resonance, a piece he choreographed for Boston Ballet earlier this season. It was an inspiring experience to work with Martinez and be in an original cast of a world premiere ballet. His style encompasses his classical French roots, and a more neo-classical style of moving similar to Balanchine and Forsythe.
The program also consists of William Forsythe’s The Second Detail, and Alexander Ekman’s Cacti, both of which our dancers perform extremely well and to much audience appreciation. Program 2 is comprised of George Balanchine’s Symphony in Three Movements, Vaslav Nijinsky’s Afternoon of a Faun, Jorma Elo’s Plan to B, and Jiří Kylian’s Bella Figura. I will have the privilege of dancing Symphony in Three Movements. Our director, Mikko Nissinen, was just telling the dancers in a rehearsal for Afternoon of a Faun the importance of the piece, which is considered the very first modern ballet, how Nijinsky and Diaghilev where inspired by the ancient Greek and Egyptian frescos to create a two dimensional ballet paired with Debussy’s exquisite score and set design by Leon Bakst. It really resonated with me that this second program exemplifies the beginning of modern ballet in Europe and a ballet choreographed by the most influential choreographer of the twentieth century, along with two of our companies best representations of newer modern works. It is hard for me to zero in on just one thing that has been a challenge for me in preparing for this tour, but I would have to say that keeping the spirit, energy, and integrity in each ballet that I am performing has been something our ballet masters have really been working on. Having had the opportunity to perform both pieces before I haven’t had to concentrate so much on just learning the choreography, but more on how I actually execute the steps. We had the great pleasure of having William Forsythe come work on his ballet The Second Detail with us, and even though I am not performing it, I learned so much from him on the importance of the smallest details such as the energy and position of your hands to complete a position, as well as high extensions. Forsythe also emphasized showing the audience your own love for ballet so that you can create a conversation with them about the piece. I am hoping that I can apply these concepts to the pieces I am dancing.
What has been the most enjoyable part of preparing for these performances?
The most enjoyable part of preparing for these performances has been the anticipation and hard work of the season ending on such a grand stage. It also has been something to look forward to as I have many family members coming to see me dance, many of whom haven’t seen me dance before, or for a long time.
In terms of touring with a ballet company, what advice can you offer dancers who are doing something like this for the first time?
Touring can be slightly intimidating and uncomfortable at times, but it really brings you closer to the people you work with. This is my fourth tour with Boston Ballet, and I definitely have found that you bond with your fellow dancers more when you are away from home. Touring is about exposing new dance audiences to your company or school so a lot of times it can seem stressful to do your best while performing, but I always try and get out and explore a new city with some friends. I think immersing yourself in your surroundings will enable you to subconsciously connect with your audience more than if you just stayed in the theater all day.
What is coming up next for you after this season?
After our week long New York tour we have six weeks of summer break. A couple weeks to unwind and recoup after a long season are definitely in my plans, including a trip to California to visit extended family and a tropical beach vacation for some R&R with my Mom! Then it will be time to gear up and get in top shape for another exciting season starting in August! I’m looking forward to dancing in Mikko Nissinen’s brand new production of Swan Lake coming in the fall!