New Year's Dancesolutions

December 21, 2008

Robert Knowles

Dancer, [bjm_danse] (formerly known as Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal)

My goal is to remember to be a constant student. As many teachers have taught me, if you stop learning, your artistry can disappear. I always try to reinvent myself, to keep my own style but be able to build on top of that.

Technically for me, it’s a constant fight: working on my feet to keep the line and make sure it’s not a biscuit foot. I’m always working on my ballet technique, to make sure that my lines are correct because I didn’t have that much ballet experience before I joined the company. Also, last year I ripped my adductor and knocked my pelvis bone out of place. That was pretty messy. So I’m trying not to re-injure myself, to keep my muscles sustained and my hip in place.

Teneise Mitchell

Dancer, Philadanco

My New Year’s resolution is to take more classes. When you always take the same classes, you’re working the same muscles and your body gets used to that exercise. I plan to cross-train with yoga and Pilates. Branching out will educate me in other dance forms and help strengthen my body.

I also want to learn about the cultures of dancers around the world. I have the opportunity in this job to travel. We all know pliés, but what do other dancers do in their daily lives? What do they eat? Do they cross-train? Sometimes you go thousands of miles away just to learn one thing you couldn’t learn at home.

Nicole Wolcott

Dancer and associate artistic director, Keigwin + Company

One of my goals is to make friends with fear. I developed stage fright like you get a disease when I was in my 20s. It was crippling because I would go onstage and it would be like, “See, I told you that you were going to make a mistake.” It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Before Fall for Dance at NY City Center last fall, stepping out there for “Fire” from Elements, certainly I had fear. But instead of creating a storyline about it, I noticed physically how my body felt and just breathed.

There’s a false preconception that people who are successful don’t have fear, that they’ve overcome it and can act freely. That’s just not true. We all have fear—from what are people thinking about you, to creating an evening-length work and thinking, “Is this the stupidest thing I’ve ever done?” Getting past that is my biggest goal.

Haiyan Wu

Principal, Miami City Ballet

In the new year I want to dance more new pieces and travel to more cities as a performer. I love classical ballet—we just did Swan Lake, and this year we’re doing Romeo and Juliet. It is so dramatic and romantic—I’d love to be Juliet. I was injured this year and my right foot has bothered me, so another thing I want to work on is getting stronger so that I can improve my jumps. Also, I hope that I can see my family in China. I didn’t go home to see my parents last summer, so I hope to go back soon.

Josette Wiggan

Solo tap artist based in L.A.

I want to devote this year to learning more about the legends of tap, especially those who haven’t been as well documented. You have to know where something began in order to know where to take it. If you don’t have a sense of why it was created at the time—what it meant to tap in the 1920s and ’30s—you can’t understand how to revolutionize it, how to keep it alive. I would love to just sit down with Baby Laurence or Bunny Briggs and find out what stories haven’t been told and what inspired them to dance. How did they find their voice? What made Bunny Bunny? How did Jimmy Slyde develop his slides? Once you start tap dancing, you’re part of a legacy, and knowing that history is just as important as doing the step.

Melissa Rector

Dancer and assistant artistic director, Koresh Dance Company

It’s always my goal to get stronger physically. I have a small frame, so I’m working up to where girls with a stronger build are—more arm and leg strength—all the time. Recently we worked with Robert Battle, and his choreography is extremely fast. From dancing with him and with Donald Byrd, whose technique is also really athletic, I know that I need to improve my strength in my arms and legs, to be able to fall to the floor and get back up in one second.

Pilates is always good for me, and I also actually have a Total Gym equipment setup in my apartment. Doing both of those things help tremendously. One day it’s your core, the next day feet, the next day arms. Sometimes when you get home, it’s hard to make yourself work out, but I manage. I never tire of dancing, and I want to keep my body technically as good as my brain artistically.

Nadia Mara

Dancer, Atlanta Ballet

I came all the way from Uruguay to do this. I left everything—my friends, family, and life there—because I want to be a better dancer. Of course I’ll work on technique in class every day; I want to get stronger and build stamina so that my dancing looks effortless. But for me, artistry is about how you feel, about getting the music in your body and just enjoying that. I want to reach the audience with my expression, to take them through the story with me, so that people say, “She really touched me.” I want to make people happy by doing what I love to do.

Connor Walsh

Principal, Houston Ballet

I’ve been working on consistency—consistency between what I’m able to do in the studio and what I do onstage. I want to add a calmness and clarity while I’m onstage, the kind I feel more in the studio. Every day in the studio you use the mirror to check your alignment and correct yourself. All of a sudden, when that disappears and you add lights, it’s a real challenge; your depth perception and sense of balance change completely. You feel a little less stable. So I’m always trying to close that gap. In order to do that, I think I just need to get out there more and get as much stage experience as possible.


Rebecca Krohn

Soloist, New York City Ballet

When I was rehearsing Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering for the first time, the ballet mistress told me I was looking at the ground a lot. I didn’t realize I was doing it so much. I need to think about opening up onstage and being more generous.

This year I also want to show versatility in my dancing. Our company does so many different kinds of ballets; I’d love to have a little bit of everything in my rep. I don’t want to be typecast. I don’t want to be just strong and forceful, or soft and pretty. I feel like I’m an emotional person and would like to portray that in different styles. You have to be confident to feel free and try things. It’s something that I have to work on.  Overall, I want to make sure my body is really strong and that I have power behind my movement.