Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Sarah Ricard Orza keeps a book to hand for whenever she has a moment to read.

Lindsay Thomas, Courtesy PNB

The Well-Read Dancer: PNB Principal Sarah Ricard Orza's Faves

Between being a Pacific Northwest Ballet principal, a doula and a mom, you'd think Sarah Ricard Orza wouldn't have spare time to pick up a book. "It's always something I'm saying I need to make more time for!" she says. "Growing up, we didn't have a television, so reading was big in our house. Nowadays, I keep whatever book I'm reading in my purse, so when I have a few minutes to spare I can read!" Orza shared what book she's currently devouring, as well as a childhood fave that now lives on her daughter's bookshelf.


What are you currently reading?

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty, the author behind the HBO series "Big Little Lies." It's on loan to me from PNB principal Leta Biasucci. It's just the right combination of good, solid writing and scandalous content!

What is your go-to read for inspiration?

I don't really have a "go-to." I read because it allows you to engage in such a different way than television or films. You get to visualize so much of the story on your own terms. A good book stays with me, becomes part of me. There are so many great literary characters that inspire me. It is the characters in the books I read that often haunt me.

What book have you reread the most?

I have read The Great Gatsby more than any other book—probably five or six times. I just love its clarity of prose.

What book has influenced you most as a dancer?

I was gifted the book A Very Young Dancer when I was probably 6 or 7. It follows a young School of American Ballet student who is picked to play the role of Marie in New York City Ballet's Nutcracker. I devoured that book. Analyzed each and every picture—from the teenage dancer standing en pointe while talking on a pay phone at Lincoln Center to Patricia McBride's hair and makeup. I would mimic how the dancers held their hands. Everything was so incredibly beautiful and magical to me. I just knew I wanted to go to SAB. Incredibly, I got to. What a dream it was to have that childhood vision come true. My current director, Peter Boal, is even in the book! It is now on my daughter Lola's bookshelf.

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May 2021