Spotlight: Leta Biasucci Has Had Enough of Your Hair Advice
Leta Biasucci is one of those dancers whose presence seems to attract the audience's eye with magnetic force. The Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist's seemingly impossible buoyancy and fiery spark have carved her out a place in a wide spectrum of roles, uninhibited by her small stature and natural inclination towards the soubrette.
We caught up with her for our "Spotlight" series:
What do you think is the most common misconception about dancers?
This notion that dancers eat, breathe and sleep dance. Dance can be all-consuming, but so are a lot of other careers. There is such an inspiring, wide range of interests among my peers.
What other career would you like to try?
I think about life after dance quite a bit, but I am not entirely sure what it holds. For the past six years, I have been chipping away at my bachelor's degree from Seattle University, and I am excited to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel!
What was the last dance performance you saw?
Last week I saw Seattle's own Whim W'Him. It was an awesome show!
What's the most-played song on your phone?
I don't know that I have a most-played song on my phone, but Mariah Carey is a favorite in the soloist women's dressing room.
Do you have a pre-performance ritual?
For roles that are accompanied by nerves, I like to find time before a performance to spend visualizing the piece. I close my eyes and imagine how the 'perfect' performance would feel. I find this practice to be meditative and allows for me to feel more excited than nervous.
Not necessarily a ritual, but I have to double-check my performance shoe ribbons and re-sew ones that look like they might possibly come unsewn. Who wants to spend a show worrying about shoes falling off?
What's your favorite book?
I have a difficult time picking favorites of anything! Recently, I have loved All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin. I am in the middle of reading Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. She is a brilliant and hilarious Seattle author.
Where can you be found two hours after a performance ends?
On the couch in my sweats. I am a homebody and need that time to recharge.
Where did you last vacation?
Last spring, my fiancé and I went to Kauai. What a magical place!
What app do you spend the most time on?
Probably Instagram, but I am admittedly much more of a consumer than a contributor (also perhaps an addict?). Huffington Post is a close second.
What's the first item on your bucket list?
I guess it should be to make a bucket list…
What's your go-to crosstraining routine?
When my schedule is pretty busy, I stick to yoga and light free weights. When my schedule isn't too heavy, I, like any good Pacific Northwesterner, love to hike. But after a long week, miles of elevation sounds like the last thing that I want to do! There is really no substitute for dancing to get in dancing shape.
What's the worst advice you've ever received?
"You should straighten your hair more often."
If you could relive one performance, what would it be?
A few years ago, I would have had an easier time answering this question. There are always ballets that you feel like you could dance forever; some that are such tremendous gifts to dance, and that make you sad to see them go. With each passing season, however, I become increasingly aware of how fleeting this unique career is. I try to embrace the present because ultimately, I can't take any of it with me.
Alicia has died. I walked around my apartment feeling her spirit, but knowing something had changed utterly.
My father, the late conductor Benjamin Steinberg, was the first music director of the Ballet de Cuba, as it was called then. I grew up in Vedado on la Calle 1ra y doce in a building called Vista al Mar. My family lived there from 1959 to 1963. My days were filled with watching Alicia teach class, rehearse and dance. She was everything: hilarious, serious, dramatic, passionate and elegiac. You lost yourself and found yourself when you loved her.
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
It's Nutcracker time again: the season of sweet delights and a sparkling good time—if we're able to ignore the sour taste left behind by the outdated racial stereotypes so often portrayed in the second act.
In 2017, as a result of a growing list of letters from audience members, to New York City Ballet's ballet master in chief Peter Martins reached out to us asking for assistance on how to modify the elements of Chinese caricature in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. Following that conversation, we founded the Final Bow for Yellowface pledge that states, "I love ballet as an art form, and acknowledge that to achieve a diversity amongst our artists, audiences, donors, students, volunteers, and staff, I am committed to eliminating outdated and offensive stereotypes of Asians (Yellowface) on our stages."
An audience member once emailed Dallas choreographer Joshua L. Peugh, claiming his work was vulgar. It complained that he shouldn't be pushing his agenda. As the artistic director of Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, Peugh's recent choreography largely deals with LGBTQ issues.
"I got angry when I saw that email, wrote my angry response, deleted it, and then went back and explained to him that that's exactly why I should be making those works," says Peugh.
With the current political climate as polarized as it is, many artists today feel compelled to use their work to speak out on issues they care deeply about. But touring with a message is not for the faint of heart. From considerations about how to market the work to concerns about safety, touring to cities where, in general, that message may not be so welcome, requires companies to figure out how they'll respond to opposition.