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!