Dancer Voices

"I Dance Because I Have Wanderlust"

Rogers dancing with Atlanta Ballet in Jean-Christophe Maillot's Roméo et Juliette. Photo by Charlie McCullers, Courtesy Atlanta Ballet

If there was life before dance, I don't remember it. My earliest memory is of watching my sister's dance recital and seeing the children in the piece before hers dressed in bumblebee costumes. I knew then I had to start dance lessons so that I, too, could parade around in glorious black and yellow, and wings, oh, the wings! My mom signed me up the next week (there are no easier ways to procure a bumblebee costume, I guess), and here I am almost three decades later.


Growing up, nearly everyone I loved most in the world danced, and that's also true today. Dancers are filled with a vitality and a whimsy that I love being around. The ballet studio is a tough environment, but the friendships forged there last a lifetime. There is a beautiful transcendence that sometimes happens when you share a stage with those you hold dear. Once, when I was on tour with Atlanta Ballet doing Ohad Naharin's Minus 16, there was a moment before we started that iconic chair dance, standing in a semicircle, when I felt the energy of all the other dancers onstage and I knew they felt it too.

"I dance because I have wanderlust,

and not just geographically."

Royal Swedish Ballet dancer Alessa Rogers

I dance because I have wanderlust, and not just geographically. Yes, ballet has allowed me to travel the world, but it has also let me live more than one life. I've been a gypsy and a princess, a fairy and a crazy person, a vampire and a courtesan and a star-crossed lover. Being all of these things in one lifetime—it's more than most people can ask for. And it's not just acting. When we're onstage, we truly do experience those emotions. For those couple hours, we are those people. We feel their love, and their pain.

Ballet has become an identity I'm not willing to shed. True, it's all I've ever tried, but I would live this life again and again.

Now if I could just get that bumblebee costume.

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