Meet the Tulsa Ballet II Dancers: No. 1
Aug 9, 2013 in Blog Posts
MEET TULSA BALLET II DANCERS: No. 1
Jennifer Grace, Regina Montgomery, Sarah Steele & Jason Yeung
We recently were able to sit down with some of our TBII dancers and talk about their lives. Check back each week for a new installment in Meet Tulsa Ballet II Dancers!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG DANCERS?
JASON: For young dancers, I would say that the biggest thing for me was knowing that everything takes time to develop and you have to really understand that - otherwise you will get really frustrated.
REGINA: You shouldn’t get competitive with other people in your class, because everyone has strengths and weaknesses and you can grow from each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Like in class, I like to watch other people and what they do. Like Lindsay [Karchin], she can balance for days so I love watching her do fondues in center; and Bobbie [Lynn Kandravi] can jump and I love watching her; and Sarah [Steele] is amazing at contemporary! I sort of pick up, or try to pick up these other qualities that other dancers in TBII have, so by watching them I can hopefully grow from their strengths. Also, if I see something that I don’t like that somebody else does, then I can try to not do that in my own dancing. So, that’s why you shouldn’t compete with the others around you.
WHAT DOES YOUR ACADEMIC LIFE LOOK LIKE AS A DANCER?
JENNIFER: Being a dancer, you have to give a lot of time to your art form and that means that you can’t really spend seven hours a day sitting at a desk in high school or even middle school sometimes. So I ended up taking online courses through my high school years and was able to graduate in three years so if I was able to get a job, I could go there and not have to focus on school as well as dance.
SARAH: I got really lucky actually. I was born in New York and I was raised in New Jersey and at 15, I moved back to New York City to train. Also at that time, I transferred academic schools to a place called Professional Children’s School which was 7 blocks away from where I was dancing, so super close. The school is designed for professional children who have a specific kind of schedule that still want to engage in a classroom environment and still have a normal”ish” school life. I was really lucky to be able to have friends at school and mentors at academic school and then go to ballet class and have two different aspects of my day.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ACTIVITY?
JASON: Since I came to Tulsa, I’ve taken advantage of our free gym membership and I’ve really gotten into working out. I’m still skinny, but it’s something I enjoy now and I go, maybe, five days a week. And it helps me relax. Well, not “relax”, but to relieve my stress and I feel like I’m doing something good for myself.
JENNIFER: My favorite activity outside of the studio is reading… I mostly read fantasy or fiction, nothing too depressing. I recently read “The Night Circus” and it was an incredible book. I had to set an alarm to tell me that it was time for bed so I could get up for work in the morning. Then I realized at 1:00am that I had hit the snooze button about 16 times and really should go to bed.
WHAT DO YOU FIND YOU HAVE TO WORK AT THE HARDEST ON A DAILY BASIS?
REGINA: So far, the hardest thing for me has been picking up choreography. When we first started, we just had TBII rehearsals and that was easier because we were working on a few pieces so I could really focus on the choreography and learning it. And we were all really new to this environment so most of the faculty and teachers and staff were helping us cope by going slowly, but now, since the company is here and I’ve been working with them a lot, I have all of my TBII rep and my company rep. It gets really hard to remember what steps are in what parts and what dances and what shoes and what skirts to wear… there’s just a lot to remember!
SARAH: For me, the hardest thing for me every day is mentally engaging myself in ballet class because it’s so easy to just go through the motions – we’ve all done thousands of thousands of plies and tendus; we’ve been training for years to get to this point. For me, it’s about making every time something new to think about to make myself better. Instead of doing a “lazy” tendu, focus on really pointing my foot as hard as I can that morning. If you just dance around in the studio and not really think about what you’re doing, it gets really boring.