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.”