On the Stage
6 Jul 2010
What's your profession? Please describe it.
I am a professional dancer with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. A lot of people do not take me seriously when I tell them this, but it can be a grueling and exhausting job. We are in the studio working for up to eight hours a day. And this is eight hours of physical and mental exercise. Some days it can be like playing memory for hours at a time. We often have to learn choreography very fast or have to change which part we are dancing with no warning. However, it all comes together on stage for the fun and rewarding performances.
Where do you do this?
Our studios are located in the Strip District of Pittsburgh, PA. This is where we rehearse most of the time, but during performance weeks we move to either the Benedum or Byham Theatre for rehearsals and shows.
Do you enjoy what you do?
Yes. Sometimes I actually pause because I am amazed that I get to do what I do as my profession. Even though there is a lot of hard work, it often feels like playing more than working.
When you were young, what did you want to "be" when you grew up?
The first thing that I ever wanted to be was a construction worker. There was something fascinating to me about all of the equipment. My mom even made me miniature construction barrels, and boy did I play with those a lot. Then as I got a little older, I thought I would be an architect. I even had my own simple drafting tools. However, by about ninth grade I knew I wanted to dance and that was when I started to take it seriously.
Do you feel stuck doing what you are doing?
Not at all. That is one of the great things about what I do. You can only dance so long before your body just can not do it any longer. I have always known that something else is around the corner, but I have had the opportunity to figure out just what I want that to be over time.
What are the most and least satisfying parts of your job?
The long days of rehearsals can become tough to deal with. It just is never as rewarding to do the works in a studio as it is on stage. Also, as with most things in life, there are politic and drama. Everyone wants to be on stage dancing and have this role or that role, but not everyone can. It can be difficult sometimes when you do not get to dance the part you wanted. And of course there is the pain that comes with doing something that the human body was not exactly designed to do.
Despite all of this though, the performances make it all worth it. There is just nothing that beats the feeling when you are dancing in front of an audience. The adrenaline rushing, music pulsing--it is indescribable. And at the end of a show, there is a great feeling that you really accomplished something. These are the moments that I hang onto and think about on the bad days.
How do you combine photography with your job?
My job is a great compliment to photography. During my downtime in the theatre there are always beautiful and interesting images to capture. The lighting is interesting and often a challenge and the dancers are great. This is something that I love to take advantage of. I also try to plan photo sessions with my co-workers whenever I get a chance. Finding the time can be difficult, but it is always rewarding and fun.