Miami City Ballet Artistic Director
Q: We heard that you were introduced to dance at age 5, when your doctor fitted you with orthopedic ankle boots and prescribed physical activity. Do you remember how it felt to develop a love of dance so young?
A: I can’t say that I do. What I do remember is loving to go to class. It was a place where I felt happy and secure, where I could lose myself in a world all my own. I remember needing to dance, and if for some reason I couldn’t, I would cry. I remember being in my kitchen at the age of 8 when my father asked me if I wanted to continue now that my orthopedic shoes had come off. I did not miss a beat and said yes!
Q: Looking back, are you surprised at where your career is today?
A: Very surprised. I am really blessed. I have been doing what I love for nearly 50 years. Dancing is constantly changing my life.
Q: After 24 years as a soloist and principal dancer for the New York City Ballet, you came back to your hometown to become the artistic director of the Miami City Ballet (MCB). How have the two cities and experiences influenced your approach?
A: Dancing for the New York City Ballet under George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins taught me artistic excellence. That I take with me wherever I go. So, it is not about the cities, but rather about my experiences and bringing that information to wherever I am. I want to continue to inspire dancers so they grow as artists and individuals, and I want to inspire, relate to and engage our community so that MCB becomes part of their everyday awareness. The way to achieve both is through exciting programming and outreach events that let people know we are here and can transform their lives.
Q: You have been very open about the initial stress of taking on the role. Has the pressure pushed your creativity?
A: Stress is never good or creative! My initial stress came from wondering how I was going to be accepted at MCB. I knew what needed to be done here, but I also knew that I could not do anything without the dancers, students and staff accepting me. That happened pretty quickly. Dancers, staff and students gave me courage as I walked into 2200 Liberty. They are the true heroes in this story. By accepting me, they showed their commitment to the art form, to this company, to this community and to themselves.
Q: What are your goals as the artistic director?
A: I want MCB programming to challenge and impact our dancers and our audiences. I want MCB to have longer seasons in Miami, and I want to see MCB tour Latin and South America, even have an annual residency there. New work is also vital — for artists, the art form and the community. Therefore, commissions will be an important part of the MCB future.
Q: Should the audience expect drastic changes in the
A: Absolutely no drastic changes. My mentors were George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. This is the foundation of MCB repertoire, and that will remain. I will introduce additional works by these geniuses that MCB has never performed. However, there are other works by wonderful choreographers that our dancers deserve to dance and our audiences deserve to watch.
Q: What new things can we expect from the MCB?
A: Starting next year, you will see four new works that have never been performed in Miami. You will also see MCB participate more in the community through live streaming efforts, outreach and development events. I want Miami to feel and understand that MCB belongs to this city.
Q: What is your favorite local eatery?
A: Ice Box on Lincoln Road
Q: Where is your favorite travel destination?
A: My lovely home in Sag Harbor, NY, by the Shelter Island ferry