Houston Ballet Soloist Alyssa Springer in Stanton Welch's The Ladies. Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet..

Meet the Houston Ballet Dancer Who Performed an Iconic Sylvie Guillem Role While Still in the Corps

With her curly red tresses, Houston Ballet soloist Alyssa Springer may look like she stepped out of a Botticelli painting, making her a natural fit in classic story ballets. But watch her in contemporary work, and you see the great bones of her versatile technique. A favorite of visiting choreographers, Springer was promoted to demi-soloist in 2017 and soloist earlier this year. She continually stands out for her acting skills and ability to morph her style to whatever the choreographer in the room needs.


Company: Houston Ballet

Age: 27

Hometown: Orange County, California

Training: Houston Ballet Academy and private coaching with John Gardner and Amanda McKerrow

Springer with Houston Ballet Principal Charles-Louis Yoshiyama in Jiří Kylián's Dream Time.

Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

Breakout role: Springer wowed audiences in William Forsythe's In the middle, somewhat elevated in 2014 while still in the corps. She danced the iconic role originated by Sylvie Guillem. "He was so encouraging," she says. "He urged me to push my limits, but he also wanted me to enjoy the process."

First item on her bucket list: "I know it sounds cliché, but I have to dance Giselle. There's so much to learn from her about forgiveness and uncondi­tional love. The range of emotion creates such a dramatic arc."

What she's working on: Balancing the humanity and physicality of her characters. "I want my dancing to look natural, to connect to the audience and really share authentic emotions and experiences," says Springer. One example is Princesse de Lamballe in Stanton Welch's Marie. "I had to remember that this was an actual person who has a tragic ending."

Springer with Artists of Houston Ballet at Jacob's Pillow in Trey McIntyre's In Dreams.

Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

What the director says: "You are always drawn to her charisma and vulnerability onstage," says Welch. "She shows great strength in her acting ability, bringing maturity into her roles."

Putting things into perspective: After Springer danced the Sugar Plum Fairy last season, she received a letter from a 5-year-old girl who drew a picture of her. "It was such a reminder that I could be inspiring the next generation."

Offstage: Springer can be found out and about with her dog, Bella, a rescue dachshund mix. Or, if she's visiting family back in California, she might be on a horse. "I've been riding since I was a kid."

Going digital: She is also teaching herself to code and has built a personal website. "I stumbled upon coding and thought it might be a useful skill," she says. "I find it so rewarding when the jumble of letters and symbols I enter becomes a webpage!"

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TaraMarie Perri in tree pose at Storm King Art Center. Photo by Sophie Kuller, Courtesy Perri

5 Self-Soothing Exercises You Can Do to Calm Your Anxiety

Physical stillness can be one of the hardest things to master in dance. But stillness in the bigger sense—like when your career and life are on hold—goes against every dancers' natural instincts.

"Dancers are less comfortable with stillness and change than most," says TaraMarie Perri, founder and director of Perri Institute for Mind and Body and Mind Body Dancer. "Through daily discipline, we are trained to move through space and are attracted to forward momentum. Simply put, dancers are far more comfortable when they have a sense of control over the movements and when life is 'in action.' "

To regain that sense of control, and soothe some of the anxiety most of us are feeling right now, it helps to do what we know best: Get back into our bodies. Certain movements and shapes can help ground us, calm our nervous system and bring us into the present.

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