Interview with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Dancer Michaela King!

Michaela King(1)This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michaela King, corps de ballet member with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre! At just nineteen years old, Michaela joined the company in 2014 and performed in Swan Lake, Don Quixote, La Bayadere, and George Balanchine’s Serenade. Michaela is thrilled to begin her second year with PBT next month, and she looks forward to the upcoming performances!

Adult Ballerina Project: Tell me about your dance history!  What made you want to become a professional ballerina?

Michaela King: I was five years old when I first started dancing. My mom enrolled me in classes because she thought it would be a fun creative outlet. She never thought in a million years I would fall in love with it! I took ballet, tap, jazz, and I participated in commercial dance competitions. When I was ten years old, I switched to a studio where the main focus was ballet. I realized that if I wanted to continue to dance and make a career, this is what I needed to do. That’s when I began to discover my real passion not only for dance, but specifically ballet.

A year later, I went on pointe and began to train intensely six days a week. Every summer, I went away from home to train at ballet schools around the country. After graduating from high school, I moved to be a student in the Graduate Program at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. I received my first company contract with PBT at the end of my two years of training there! It was a dream come true. This is what I had been working for my whole life. It is exciting to say that I get to do what I love every day.

ABP: What are your most memorable experiences throughout your career?

Michaela: Last season, I got to be the first shade out on the ramp for La Bayadere. That ballet is so special to me because it’s the first professional ballet I saw. I was 11 years old when I got to watch American Ballet Theatre perform it. It’s crazy to think that years later I got to be one of those girls going down the ramp doing 38 arabesques!

By far, my most memorable moment was being called into PBT director Terrence S. Orr’s office at the end of my second year as a student with the school. He sat me down, we chatted, and he offered me a contract! I couldn’t believe it, it’s a moment I will always remember and treasure.

ABP: Have you experienced any challenges during your dance career?

Michaela: Last year, I sustained multiple injuries to the bones in my feet and I was out for six months and in recovery for another three months. It was by far the hardest and most trying time I’ve had to go through as a dancer, but it made me a stronger person and I learned so much about myself.  I feel like I am more aware of my body and how to take care of it, and more mature as a person. When life throws me curve balls at me I have the confidence now that I can get through anything because it’s just temporary!

ABP: What is your focus for the upcoming season?

Michaela: Ultimately I want to have a long career and be the best possible dancer I can be. It will be my second year in the company so right now my goal is to make the most of every role and opportunity I’m given and put 100 percent into it. I want to prove myself and show my versatility as a dancer. I’m hoping to get cast in some roles out of my comfort zone so that I can push myself and grow in new ways. Ideally, it would be a dream to dance a lead pas de deux on stage.

ABP: What advice would you give to ballet students?


“You may be the ripest, juiciest peach, but there will always be someone who hates peaches.” Stay true to yourself and do not worry or compare yourself to other people. I think that’s what helped me to develop into my own as a dancer technically and artistically. Every dancer is unique in their own way and has their own path. Embrace it!

Image via Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Ballerina Profile: Suzanne Kadinger

Interview PhotoWhen did you start doing ballet as an adult?

I started taking ballet classes when I was 26, and I went en pointe at age 30.

Did you ever take lessons as a kid?

I took dance lessons as a child, including ballet, but it wasn’t strong training in classical ballet technique. While a small amount of the movement was familiar to me when I started back up, it was really like starting from scratch. I had some bad habits to discard, and I definitely had some terminology to learn!

Why did you decide to take ballet as an adult?

My daughter had already begun taking a creative dance class at the studio when she was five, so I was familiar with Muncie Ballet and their program. I was looking for a way to unwind after work, and I set out looking for a yoga class with a coworker. We couldn’t find a local yoga class that suited our schedule, but we did happen upon the studio’s adult class. My coworker wasn’t able to keep up classes after she moved away, but I’m still there after more than 12 years.

Where do you take classes?

Muncie Ballet under Lisa Love.

What is your favorite part about ballet?

I love that when I am dancing, I’m not thinking about anything else. The stress of the day melts away during those hours in the studio. Now, as my daughter prepares to graduate from high school and head off to college, we can both say that dancing together and sharing a stage has been one of the best experiences either of us has had. It’s pretty special to experience something so meaningful with your daughter. Every special dancer memory is a shared memory for us.

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My Favorite (Ballet) Things with Johanna of Pointe Til You Drop

If you’re in the adult ballet community online, you’ve no doubt heard of the blog Pointe Til You Drop written by Johanna Aurava of Finland. We’re delighted she was able to talk to ABP about some of her favorite ballet things…

PTYD Johanna


6 Favorite Ballet Dancers?

Sylvie Guillem, Darcey Bussell, Elisabeth Platel, Sofiane Sylve, Isabelle Ciaravola, Mathilde Froustey, Sara Mearns, Tiler Peck, Evgenia Obraztsova, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Friedemann Vogel, Manuel Legris… Sorry, it’s impossible to narrow down to six! There are so many amazing dancers around the world, each with their own unique qualities. And I have seen only a fraction, live even less. I also want to give a shout-out to my fave dancers at The Finnish National Ballet: Michal Krčmář, Eun-Ji Ha, Tiina Myllymäki.

5 Favorite Ballet Steps?

Any steps that glide, bounce, soar, rebound, balance and suspend. Also pirouettes, even on a bad turn day.

4 Favorite Ballet DVDs ?

The first Paris Opéra Ballet School documentary which was made in the early 90s had a huge impact on me. I had all 4 episodes recorded on video, and watched it over and over. It’s been fascinating to follow some of the young students (Aurélie Dupont, Nicolas Le Riche) rising to the rank of étoile, and then retiring. Makes me feel a bit old though 😉 . Other favorite DVDs include: “Etoiles – Dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet” (2001), “La Danse” (2009), “Dancer’s Dream: The Great Ballets of Rudolf Nureyev: Sleeping Beauty” (with Elisabeth Platel narrating and dancing the role of Aurora).

3 Favorite Memes You’ve Created for Pointe Til You Drop?

PTYD Memes
2 Favorite Personal Dance Strengths?

Picking up corrections, as I’m always eager to learn and to improve. I’ve been told that I have a natural jump, and I do like to bounce…

#1 Dream Ballet Role?

I would love to learn choreography from Balanchine, or anything from Kylian, Wheeldon, Elo, Ratmansky. Neo-classical or contemporary ballet. Some parts that would not be entirely impossible to dance, even if it’s just a short sequence of steps or port de bras. But if we’re talking dreams, I’d pick Tatiana (Onegin). Now, there’s a strong character to portray!

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Ballerina Profile: Yulia Klim

10931432_10153057791291310_1981081137301356605_nWhen did you start doing ballet as an adult?

9 months ago, I was 26.

Did you ever take lessons as a kid?

Nope. I was living in a very small city, more of a village, we had one acrobatic center, which I never was interested in trying. Unfortunately never participated in any sport activity.

 Why did you decide to take ballet as an adult?

I am not a big fan of weights and gym, as it is so hard to motivate yourself there, I find it boring but music always helped. So I was looking for a way to stay fit and enjoy it at the same time: salsa, pole dancing… Nothing called my name. And then I tried Beginner Ballet.

 Where do you take classes?

Dubai Dance Academy. I live in UAE, where some people would hear Belly Dance instead of Ballet Dance couple of years ago. However, Art forms are growing here and becoming more popular, and I am glad I found great studio with a great teacher, who is very passionate on bringing this form of art into the region.

 What is your favorite part about ballet?

Love barre work overall and its discipline. Quite enjoy any jumping activity.

 What is your least favorite part?

Grand battement. Already tired, hearing: “Ok, and now let’s do some grand battement” is like a punishment for me. It’s a massive reminder on how much core strength I am missing along with flexibility.

 Who/What is your ballet inspiration?

High arch is definitely something I admire, I’ve always appreciated the beauty of strong lean legs. However, watching any sport or dance professionals is always something inspirational, showcasing the beauty and great capabilities our human body has. In fact, wide range of abilities of our body is something that amuse me, from gymnastic to singing and composing music… We all are capable of A LOT.  Yes, starting something as a kid gives you a great advantage, but just because it is more difficult as adult doesn’t mean you should not do it, nothing is easy.  It is all in our hands to shape ourselves spiritually and physically the way we want it, at any age.

What motivates you to keep dancing?

Too many things… First, it’s the challenge. It feels that in ballet there are always new things you learn every day, there is a constant challenge even in the most simple and basic moves. Getting over-confident over something you think you finally got right, and then being told off by your teacher about your hands or chin or shoulders. There is always something more to it, there is always something new you will learn about your body, about ballet and its technique. Constant perfection. And secondly, it is the beauty, posture and elegance that ballet gives your body and its movements. Being quite skinny and light, I still felt like an elephant during my first classes. My moves were so heavy, so terrible. Well, I still feel like an elephant but I notice changes. Your posture slowly is getting better, and you do not want to stop there, you want more and you continue.

Do you take any other dance classes?

Not yet, but always been aiming at trying Jazz or Contemporary classes.

What are your hobbies outside of ballet?

With my office work I barely squeeze time to do ballet, so if collecting turtle toys counts as a hobby, that would be one.

What advice would you like to give to those who want to start ballet or have just started?

Be patient and positive. Everyone started somewhere. No one was born a professional and even prima ballerinas didn’t do well back into their beginner years. You are starting now, and doesn’t matter how old you are, taking even one class already makes you better than you were yesterday. Be proud of yourself, take it slow, learn the technique first. Set realistic goals. Build the core strength and try to get closer to the right execution of the move. Technique is the key, our teacher may spend a long time simply explaining how your arm should be placed and which muscles you shall engage and I find it essential. Get the basics first, the foundation. If that requires lowering your leg, lower your leg. Do not rush, do not expect quick results, it will come to you after months and years of practice. You just have to be very patient. And of course, practise every day, even if it is just 5 minutes, anything is better than nothing.

 Anything else you’d like to add?

I heard that those who dance or sing live longer that could be another motivation haha.

PopSugar’s A Look at What A Ballerina Dancer Eats All Day

Pennsylvania Ballet Principal Dancer, Lauren Fadeley, recently sat down with PopSugar to discuss her secrets for staying light on her feet and energized all day during dance rehearsals and performances

Posted by Adult Ballerina Project on Tuesday, June 23, 2015

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