Jennifer Lauren: First-Time Sleepwalker

Newly promoted soloist Jennifer Lauren will be dancing the role of The Sleepwalker in George Balanchine’s La Sonnambula for the first time this weekend at Broward Center. We asked her a few questions about the role and also threw in a some about what she’s dancing in Western Symphony.

MCB: Congratulations on your recent promotion to Soloist! In what way does it feel different to be at a higher rank?

Jennifer: I see being promoted as a wonderful acknowledgment of my dedication, artistry and hard work. I have enjoyed the past three and a half years the same as I do now. My rank doesn’t make me feel like a better dancer. Ultimately my performances enrich me most as a ballerina.

MCB: You will be dancing The Sleepwalker in George Balanchine’s La Sonnambula this weekend.  What do you think will be the most enjoyable part of this role?

Jennifer: Finally getting to perform it onstage with all the scenery, lights and especially the nightgown. With all these elements coming together, I can truly embrace the role and let myself become The Sleepwalker.

MCB: Will you mentally prepare differently to go on stage for this role as compared to others?

Jennifer: Yes. I will try to feel as if I cannot see with my eyes, but with my body.  It is a completely different way of dancing than I am used to.

MCB: The Sleepwalker wears her hair down.  Does this offer you a sense of freedom or a new challenge?

Jennifer: I have a lot of hair, so dancing with it down at first was a little overwhelming. After several rehearsals I began to feel naked with out my hair down. The hair adds so much to the flowing movements in the choreography.

MCB: You stay “on pointe,” gliding around stage on the tips of your toes for much of the role.  Is it hard to be in this constant position for so long?

Jennifer: Yes it is hard when you first start to rehearse the role. After a few painful rehearsals my toes went numb.  But the hard part is when we wouldn’t rehearse for a while and then come back to it. Or even just a week of no rehearsals would soften my toes again. Prior the show I walk around on pointe to prepare my toes.

MCB: At the end of the ballet, you carry the dead Poet off stage in your arms walking slowly backwards.  Carrying a limp man must be hard enough let alone while walking backwards.  Did this take a lot of practice or is it not that hard?

Jennifer: This did not take a lot of practice. You either can carry your partner or you can’t. I just had to do it! I also go up a slight ramp walking backwards with the Poet in my arms. This is something I never imagined myself doing but am proud to say that I can.

MCB: You will also be dancing the second movement of George Balanchine’s Western Symphony.  In your opinion, why are you the only girl in the whole ballet who wears pink tights (although you later put black ones on)?

Jennifer: I’m new to the role, but I think she appears in pinks tights because she needs to be a beautiful vision to lure the man into falling for her. She is a pure ballerina in the man’s mind.

MCB: What do you like about this role?

Jennifer: I like how she mimics quite a few gestures from classical ballets such as Swan Lake and Giselle, which I have performed. It is also a comical piece that is fun to dance with my partner. It’s an Adagio with some cute moments, but also some very dramatic moments.

MCB: When you are dancing special roles, do any of your friends or family come to watch?

Jennifer: My parents have always been there for every step of my career. My husband has always been just as supportive.

MCB: Does it make you more or less nervous knowing they are in the audience?

Jennifer: They are always there when possible, so I am not nervous at all. I enjoy sharing the end result of my hard work and dedication with those who have been instrumental in helping me get to this “pointe.”


Congratulations to our newly promoted dancers!

Promoted to Soloist:

Jennifer Lauren (Photo by Leigh-Ann Esty)

Renan Cerdeiro (Photo by Kyle Froman)

Promoted to Corps de Ballet:

Adrienne Carter (not pictured)

Nathalia Arja

Alexandre Ferreira

Skyler Lubin

Kleber Rebello

Promoted to Company Apprentice:

Andrei Chagas

Meet the Dancers – Jennifer Lauren

Dances at a Gathering. Photo © Leigh-Ann Esty.

With my family on my wedding day!

Q&A with Jennifer Lauren

Corps de ballet member Jennifer Lauren answers all our questions about the 2009-2010 season.

MCB: Looking back on Miami City Ballet’s 2009-2010 performance season, you’ve had some great opportunities to dance featured roles in Who Cares?, Dances at a Gathering, Flower Festival, Divertimento No. 15, The Nutcracker, and Company B.  What role or roles have been most significant to you as far as your artistic growth?

Jennifer: I am delighted to have danced so many new roles this year. Every part I am involved with is a fabulous learning experience.  New roles give me a fresh perspective on all that has come before; and with each opportunity I work my hardest to get every little detail down. I watch videos over and over of as many great past performances as I can find, and I’m constantly going over details of the choreography, even before I sleep every night. It’s really hard to label one role as the most significant, even with roles I’ve repeated so many times, as with the Nutcracker, there is still so much I can learn with each performance.

I loved dancing Company B.  It was great fun to work with Patrick Corbin, and to wear jazz shoes for a change! We all really enjoyed Paul Taylor’s choreography, dancing to the music of the Andrews Sisters, the costumes…and those hairdos!

Valse Fantaisie (1953) was a big deal for me. To be chosen for opening night was really exciting for Sara Esty, Zoe Zien, Yang Zou and me. I was surprised and delighted to see my photo accompanying the fantastic review of Program II in The New York Times.  One-on-one rehearsal time with Ballet Mistress Joan Latham was tremendously helpful for that role.

Divertimento No. 15 is such a beautiful piece, and probably the biggest “ballerina” role I danced this year. I felt so elegant in that work. Ballet Mistress Roma Sosenko and Joan really pulled me out of my comfort zone and got me to dance “bigger.”

Getting to work closely with Deanna Seay, Alex Wong, and Edward for Flower Festival was a special experience. Flower Festival made me feel at home; it was very similar to the way I was used to working with the artistic team at my previous company of eight years. Alex has such great energy, and Edward and Deanna gave me corrections as well as the power to go beyond what I thought was possible.

It was such an honor to be a part of Dances at a Gathering. Dancing the choreography of Jerome Robbins, to the music of Chopin and having Francisco Renno play for us every day — quite lovely!

I was called to the principal rehearsals later in the year for Who Cares? That was a pleasant surprise to say the least. Under the circumstances, I was needed to perform Embraceable You and My One and Only, and was thrilled to dance with principal dancers such as Renato Penteado, Patricia Delgado, Tricia Albertson and Carlos Guerra. I really had the best time this season!

MCB: What role captured your strengths and came to you most naturally?

Jennifer: Even though Flower Festival was the first time I had performed Bournonville, I think my classical background made it an easy transition. Prior to joining MCB, I danced all the classics, most often portraying a young girl in love, so the artistic interpretation of Flower Festival felt very natural, allowing me to concentrate on the Bournonville technique, which was definitely a challenge.

MCB: While Miami City Ballet dancers are extremely focused on their art form, this company knows how to have fun and laugh whether on a bus ride from the airport on tour or around the theater at Nutcracker time.  What fun time will be remembered most from this season?

Jennifer: There are so many.  Vail was magnificent. Performing Serenade outside with the wind blowing our tutus at the beginning gave me chills, not from the cold, but that I felt very proud to be with all of my fellow dancers at that moment. There was a group of us in Vail who rode on a ski lift and we had the best time stuck up in the air. We all have so much fun exploring and seeing all the great places we go on tour.   Also being a part of Deanna Seay’s farewell performance was unforgettable.

MCB: What do you think you went through the most:  Band-Aids, super glue, hair nets, eye lashes, or Advil?

Jennifer: I definitely went through a lot of clear Band-Aids because I use them to secure my ribbons while performing. Probably the items I used most were pointe shoes; I feel like this year I went through more than ever.

MCB: MCB has had a jam-packed thirty-six weeks of more than 75 performances – involving plane rides, car pools, hotel stays, rehearsals, multiple theaters, costume fittings, highs and lows, and dancing mostly six days a week.  This obviously isn’t a 9 to 5 clock-in, clock-out job.  How did you stay positive with a rigorous schedule that is demanding in many aspects?

Jennifer: I love being onstage and performing. The long hours we sacrifice for our job, in the end, are all worth it when you feel the rush of being onstage, and you know an audience is watching and hopefully enjoying themselves. My husband Blake, and my pug Sophie are always there for me.  Blake helps me with anything I need, like driving me to work almost every day. It is so nice to have a loving and supportive family at home in Alabama, too. Both my parents were able to come and see me dance Flower Festival and we had two days off after the shows. We made it into a little family vacation in South Beach.

MCB: With your intensive schedule behind you for the moment, what do you look forward to the most during your layoff?

Jennifer: Visiting family and friends, traveling, enjoying life — and giving my body a break.  I’m also looking forward to reading Bob Gottleib’s “Reading Dance” that my husband bought me ages ago.

MCB: Do you worry about staying in shape over the summer or do you relax and rejuvenate guilt free?

Jennifer: That’s funny, I think everyone worries about staying in shape, but I feel our bodies periodically need extensive rest, just as other athletes in the off-season.  So I relax mostly, but I do take classes when they are available to me wherever I might be.  I’ve always found that it only takes a week to really get back in shape once we start our rigorous schedule again.

MCB: After wowing over our audience this year, what’s one thing you think they would never guess about you?

Jennifer: I once performed with Baryshnikov in his solo tour a few years ago, but it was equally fun to dance as Amor with Edward in Don Quixote last year!