Secrets from a Star: Day in the Life of Noelani Pantastico
This fall, Dance Magazine followed Noelani Pantastico for a day as she was rehearsing "Emeralds" and performing "Diamonds" in George Balanchine's Jewels. It was the start of the principal's third season back at Pacific Northwest Ballet, returning to the company she grew up in after a seven-year journey dancing with Jean-Christophe Maillot's Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo.
Here are a few of our favorite images and insights from the day:
"I always eat breakfast, or else by class I feel loopy," says Pantastico. "I love bananas, mangoes and Hawaiian papayas if I can find them. I most likely have a starch, like toast or oatmeal. Sometimes I'll go on a yogurt or smoothie kick. I just listen to what my body wants."
In August, Pantastico choreographed for the first time for a site-specific event at the Olympic Sculpture Park. "I think every dancer should try being on that side at least once," she says. Although she loved the experience, she wants to focus her energy on dancing for now.
To get going before pliés, she rolls out her muscles using several different-sized balls and a foam roller. "As soon as I get to work, I change into something warm and loose so my body feels at ease."
Pantastico tapes every toe with contractor masking tape. "If I don't, I'm likely to get a blister on that naked toe!"
"When dancing 'Emeralds,' I visualize Violette Verdy as a dancer and as the person I saw in her interviews (thoughtful and giving)."
"For 'Diamonds' I think of the relationship between Suzanne Farrell and Mr. Balanchine: Only they know what they experienced with each other, but I love to imagine that their relationship was a lot like the central pas de deux."
How did her European experience change her? "I'm much more thoughtful with my body and with what I am dancing," she says. "I've always cared about things, I just care more than ever now." And her outlook on dance has also evolved: "Living two different perspectives made things a lot clearer for me about how I want to represent the art form, and how I can help it progress."
More than once, when I'm sporting my faded, well-loved ballet hoodie, some slight variation of this conversation ensues:
"Is your daughter the dancer?"
"Actually," I say, "I am."
"Wow!" they enthuse. "Who do you dance with? Or have you retired...?"
"I don't dance with a company. I'm not a professional. I just take classes."
Insert mic drop/record scratch/quizzical looks.
You nominated your favorite dance moments so far in 2019, and we narrowed them down to this list. Now it's time to cast your vote to help decide who will be deemed our Readers' Choice picks for the year!
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