Contributor Jessika Anspach McEliece, a native of Bellevue, Washington, began her ballet training at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School under the direction of Francia Russell. She progressed through all levels of the school, beginning with Creative Movement, and was invited to be a part of PNBS’s Professional Division program where she was privileged to perform frequently with the Pacific Northwest Ballet. She also attended summer intensive programs at the San Francisco Ballet School, the National Ballet School of Canada and Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell.
She danced for the Suzanne Farrell Ballet Company in 2002 as an apprentice. And in 2004, her dream came true when she was invited by Kent Stowell and Francia Russell to join Pacific Northwest Ballet as an apprentice, promoted the following year to corps de ballet under current director Peter Boal.
Over her 12-year career, she was blessed to dance leading and featured roles in such ballets as Kent Stowell’s Cinderella, Nutcracker and Swan Lake, George Balanchine’s Agon, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Coppelia, Diamonds, Divertimento from “Baiser de la Fee,” and Symphony in C, Nacho Duato’s Rassemblement, Ulysses’ Dove’s Vespers, Jiri Kylian’s Sechs Tanza (Six Dances), Marco Goecke’s Place a Chill, William Forsythe’s One Flat Thing Reproduced, Benjamin Millepied’s 3 Movements, Mark Morris’s Kammermusik No. 3, Susan Stroman’s TAKE FIVE…More or Less, Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty and Andrew Bartee’s Arms that Work.
But what she delighted in most was her role as a senior corps woman, upholding the integrity and caliber of the company with every performance, be it as a villager, a flower or a swan. “As a principle or soloist you maybe get a few shows, but in the corps I got to be in every show. Being on stage is what I worked so hard for. It’s the sprinkles on the sundae. And I got a lot of sprinkles.”
Now retired from her ballet career, Jessika is a freelance writer, having written featured articles for Dance Magazine. Along with contributing to 4dancers and PNB’s blog, she also keeps her own, justJessika, chronicling her life’s adventures, pursuits and passions: travel, faith and of course ballet.