CM: This is your sixth season with Ballet Idaho. You continue to dazzle audiences and for Anthology next month, you follow in Associate Artistic Director Anne Mueller’s quick footsteps with one of the lead roles in Eyes on You. What is it like to perform this role?
AB: Because Anne originated this role and knows it inside-and-out, I naturally want to be able to do it justice. The role contains a difficult balance of humor, glamor, and charisma along with tricky and precise steps, but having Anne’s firsthand knowledge made me feel comfortable from the very first rehearsal. Through the process, she encouraged me to approach this role with my own character and strengths. Having the opportunity to work on this role with Anne’s guidance has been an honor and an experience that I will definitely treasure as a career highlight. I can’t wait to bring it to the stage soon!
CM: When did you know you wanted to be a professional dancer?
AB: My love of ballet began the day my Grandma took me to see a local production of The Nutcracker when I was four. She bought me a Nutcracker CD at the show which I played on repeat while making my family watch my own version of the act two roles. I remember crying when the CD got damaged from constantly being passed from cd player to cd player until the Waltz of the Flowers track started skipping. I knew from my first watch of the Nutcracker that I wanted to become a professional dancer.
CM: It’s February and you have a couple of Galentines who dance with you at Ballet Idaho. What is it like to dance alongside close friends?
AB: I feel so lucky to spend my days in the studio among friends who know me better than anyone and continually support and inspire me, including some I have known since before joining the company. Lizzie Kanning and I have been dear friends since we trained in the same class at Pacific Northwest Ballet School together in high school. It always makes my day when we suddenly both remember a great memory from that time in our lives. One memory that comes to mind is the day we created an epic comedic dance duel between two feuding diva ballerinas in our choreography class. Also, Anissa Bailis and I have been inseparable since we trained in PNB’s professional division together and joined Ballet Idaho together. We have been roommates, best friends, and travel buddies for years and I don’t know what I’d do without her. Nothing is better than dancing and working with so many wonderful friends.
CM: What is your bucket-list role?
AB: If I had to choose just one, I would say Balanchine’s Tarantella because it’s just a joyful delight to watch, and it has so many elements that I would love to be able to tackle onstage someday.
CM: You are also a teacher for Ballet Idaho Academy. Are there challenges in instructing tiny dancers in one of the most structured and difficult art forms?
AB: Teaching young dancers can definitely be a challenge, but it is also extremely rewarding to pass down my love for ballet to a new generation. One of the difficult aspects of teaching is making technique concepts fun and engaging for young students. It’s really important for young dancers to learn the foundations of ballet technique so they can improve, but I think it can get boring for them pretty quickly unless they have imagery to hang onto. I often tell my level one students that they have ladybugs sitting on their shoulders to help them keep their shoulders down, and that they have to keep their unicorn horns up to the sky to keep their posture lifted. There’s a lot of fairytale and forest friend imagery happening, and I actually think these images might be helping me with my own technique! It’s been a stroll down memory lane to remember techniques from all the teachers in my past and to share these lessons in a way that is engaging.
CM: What would you be if you were not a professional dancer?
AB: Most likely a painter. I love painting, and when I can find the time to sit down and work on visual art, I find it very meditative and fulfilling. Creativity and the arts are so important to me, and I can’t imagine them not being an integral part of my life.