This Corporate Manager Still Takes Ballet—and She Says It Helps Her Slay Presentations
Working in corporate America can be a grind, so, for many, vacation is a welcome opportunity to relax and unwind. But for Jane Collier, it's a chance to ramp up her ballet training.
Though she's based in Chicago, where she works in global sourcing for Walgreens Boots Alliance, over the last several years she's attended summer intensives at American Ballet Theatre in New York City, the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow and, most recently, the Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen.
Dancing in ABT's studios. Courtesy Collier
"Intensives offer me the best of both worlds: travel and great training," says Collier, who looks for strong ballet programs in locations she'd like to visit. "I love meeting other students from around the globe. In a time when so many things are polarizing, dance extends beyond language and borders. The shared experience of striving to be your best is a very galvanizing feeling."
And though most summer intensive participants are pre-professionals who haven't yet graduated high school, Collier doesn't let her age deter her. "I ask if they would consider admitting older students and let my audition speak for itself—the worst they can say is no."
"It's extremely important to me that my dedication and desire come across in my audition and in my participation in the intensive. I want to show up every day prepared to work hard, absorb and grow as a dancer. I might be a little older, but I want to demonstrate how happy I am to be there," says Collier. "No one ever has to remind me to look like I'm enjoying myself."
Collier in front of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Courtesy Collier
During the year, she takes technique and pointe regularly, plus CorePower Yoga for cross-training. Natalie Rast, who caters to adult ballet dancers of all levels at Rast Ballet, is a favorite teacher she credits with helping her refine her technique. And when Collier is at her company's downtown offices, she takes class at the Joffrey Academy of Dance.
But no matter how much she prepares, swapping the office for a dance studio at an intensive is still mentally and physically exhausting. "Thank goodness for coffee," she jokes.
Collier with Bolshoi Ballet corps dancer Anastasia Strakhova (left), whom she met while training in Moscow. Courtesy Collier
Collier's love of ballet stems back to childhood. Even when she decided to pursue other career paths, she knew that didn't have to mean leaving ballet behind. "I always intrinsically knew that I didn't have the appropriate physical attributes to be a professional ballet dancer. But I loved training so much it didn't matter." Case in point: She pressed on when she auditioned for an intensive in high school that required a letter of recommendation in which her teacher wrote, "I hope you accept Jane so she realizes the ballet world isn't for her."
When it came time for undergrad, Collier says she even chose her school, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, for its dance department. She trained with the dance majors while earning three degrees (economics, international studies and French) and a minor in Chinese (Mandarin)—and she graduated early. "I realized I could still train at a high level and have other career aspirations."
Even with her impressive collection of degrees (she later got her MBA from Duke University), Collier is quick to credit ballet for helping her career. "It has instilled confidence, work ethic and poise," she says. "When I encounter tough meetings or presentations, I consciously remind myself to pull down through my shoulder blades and up through my scapula. It works wonders!"
"I might not earn my paycheck from dancing," says Collier, "but it can still be a huge part of who I am and what I do."
If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.
Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.
Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.
So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?
When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.
You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)
Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of: